Hard to believe it was just three short years ago that the casino industry was introduced to skill-based/arcade-style slot machine gaming—the game mechanics that some, at first blush, believed would eventually take over the brick-and-mortar machine floor.

Man, has the buzz about skill gaming gone quiet of late (replaced with seemingly nonstop hype about sports wagering). The reasons for the loss of ardor are many—long licensing processes leading to slow roll out of skill slot technology, less than stellar response from consumers in initial trials, operator concerns about the long-term profitability of this slot machine segment, just to name a few. The end result: a pretty thorough quenching of the skill-based games fire, at least among a large segment of the traditional gaming industry.

But just because the flames have been doused doesn't mean a spark can’t be coaxed from the embers. Indeed, the underlying issues that made skill gaming so enticing to begin with still exist; land-based casino operators need to grow their Gen X and Millennial customer bases, and modernizing the slot game mix with arcade-style devices is one way to do so.

“Competing in a landscape that’s growing more crowded all the time will continue to require casinos to provide new experiences for gamblers, and the emergence of skill-based games offers exactly that,” said Georg Washington, CEO of Synergy Blue, a California-based provider of skill-based games and platforms. “But the newness of skill-based games brings both exciting opportunity as well as daunting challenges—because skill-based gaming is still in its early days, and without comprehensive analysis of metrics, it’s difficult for some to give it valuable floor space.”

To help solve this issue, Synergy Blue has released The State of Skill-Based Games in a New Era of Gambling, a report that surveyed over 100 casino executives about their priorities, challenges and the role they think skill-based games will have in the future of casino gaming.

Among the results:

  • 70 percent of the responding casinos said they have, plan to or are considering adopting skill-based games, games with skill components or games with arcade-style play.
  • 50 percent of casinos said Gen Xers, who are more financially established, are their target growth demographic over the next five years.
  • 67 percent of respondents believe skill-based gaming appeals to a new generation of gamblers.
  • 46 percent of casinos said skill-based games increase facility attractiveness by diversifying the slot product offering.

Of those who have adopted skill-based games or games with skill/arcade components:

  • 81 percent said it provided a different player experience; and
  • 38 percent said it added a unique marketing element for their property.

Indeed, perhaps for these reasons, skill slot games providers are showing some forward momentum of late. The best example of this may be Gamblit Gaming, which has placed its skill concepts in gaming properties in California, Nevada and, most recently, McPhillips Station Casino in Winnipeg, Canada.

Here’s hoping Gamblit, Synergy Blue and other such pioneering companies survive the doldrums and eventually show the skills needed to survive and thrive on current and future slot floors.