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Gambling executives know that their demographics show the majority of customers to be over 40, particularly among slot players. In order to try to draw the younger crowd, casino planners have asked slot machine designers to make some evolutionary changes to the format of the machines.
For a long time, slot machines have consisted of mild variations on a hundred-year-od theme of entering cash, pressing abutton or pulling a lever, and waiting for a result. New machines, however, will incorporate ideas and styles from video games that younger generations have grown up playing.
Skill, in the forms of hand-eye coordination and dexterity, will now be rewarded as well as pure chance. Joysticks will take the place of buttons as the method of play. Machines will be linkable, allowing players to play in groups, as in online gaming.
George Maloof is the owner of the Palms Resort Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The Palms has a clientele younger than most Vegas casinos, and Maloof understands the problem with getting play from his crowd. “Younger players come to town to party. They drink, they go to nightclubs, they go to the after-hours clubs, they check out the pool for the scene there. Gambling in general is not high on their agenda,” he said.
Tim Stanley, spokesman for Harrah’s Entertainment, noted that young people have shown a marked preference for table games over slots.
So, to attract the 21-40 crowd, slots are turning to popular technological improvements in video and audio. Surround sound, high defintion pictures, and interactive machines are all in the plans for slots’ future.
Atari, the company that started the advent of video games with Pong, has signed a deal with Bally Technologies to develop a string of slot games to be beased on skill of play, starting with a paddle game similar to Pong.
Even as authorities are striving to put games of chance out of play, as previously reported, the games themselves are becoming more skill-based. The evolution of gambling to combine with other aspects of entertainment and meld with “normal” life seems to be a tide no one can stop.