I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but entertainment in general has changed rapidly over the last 20 years. It seems like there’s some new development every year.
TVs have gotten cheaper. Streaming channels dominate and are proliferating. Movie theaters have remodeled with recliners and gourmet food. 3D technology at the movies is better than ever.
Even old bookworms like me have been affected by these changes. E-readers, like the Kindle, have become ubiquitous.
The quality of television programming, especially in terms of writing and direction, has changed dramatically. This is truly a platinum age of television.
But how do casinos keep up with these advancements in technology and learn to adapt to its ever-changing environment? Keep reading below to learn more.
Regulations, Regulations, and More Regulations
One of the challenges that casinos and casino game manufacturers face is creating innovative and new gambling products when they face so much government regulation. Sure, movies and television face a certain amount of regulation, but for the most part, they operate under a First Amendment guarantee of freedom of expression.
Casino gambling is a different animal. It’s not just entertainment. There’s money on the line, both yours and the casino’s.
As a result, casinos operate in a more tightly regulated environment than other entertainment businesses.
What kinds of regulations am I talking about?
For one thing, a slot machine manufacturer requires a separate license in each jurisdiction where it operates. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it costs money and time to comply with. It’s money and time that could be spent developing new games and features.
A slot machine manufacturer in the United States might need 300 separate licenses, depending on how many jurisdictions they serve.
To comply with regulators, casino game manufacturers must also deal with testing and approval requirements. This slows down how often these new games can go to market. It also makes it hard (if not impossible) to test such games with gamblers before production.
And the standards the games must meet also vary by jurisdiction.
But even with those obstacles facing the casinos, most casino gamblers agree that gambling in a casino is going to change significantly over the next decade or two.
Could a Lack of Innovation Hurt the Casino Industry’s Growth and Revenue in the Future?
Even though casino gamblers are optimistic that casino gambling is going to be better and newer in the future, some industry people feel like innovation is much harder. Sure, casinos and casino games are evolving, but they’re not evolving as fast as the products in the rest of the entertainment industry.
And pessimists are dismayed that this might cause casinos to not only struggle to find new customers but also cause them to lose existing customers.
Of course, nothing seems to stop the ever-growing juggernaut of casino revenue in the face of regulation before now.
Other entertainment industries have, at the very least, been disrupted by modern changes to their industry. Just because that disruption hasn’t much affected the casino industry yet doesn’t mean it won’t.
Imagine a slot machine where the bonus round is a round of Space Invaders, exactly as it was played in the 1980s when you were first able to play it. Then, imagine that you can get more points by killing more of the advancing aliens in the game.
Or imagine a Pac-Man slot machine game where you trigger a bonus round where you get to navigate Pac-Man around gobbling up dots that have a monetary value.
Other Casino Innovations on the Horizon
Another new feature being rolled out in some modern casinos is “stadium-style” gambling. You sit at a row of terminals where you’re able to place bets electronically on a traditional casino table game, which is managed by a live dealer.
Basically, stadium-style gaming combines comfort with speed and traditional table gameplay.
Gambling machines, especially slots and video poker, are coming out with new features, too. The graphics get better all the time, but now they even include holograms and 3D animation.
And some casinos in both Atlantic City and Las Vegas now offer esports arenas where you can compete with someone else at a video game for cash.
How Casino Game Design Works
Most casinos don’t design or build their own games, especially not slot machines. The companies creating these games are independent of the casinos, and they either lease or sell their games to the casinos.
The casinos have lots of data about which gambling games perform better than others, but the companies creating these games depend on the casino managers to communicate with them about how their games perform.
This is obviously a higher priority for some casino execs than others. If the manufacturers of these games had more data, they could adjust their games accordingly and possibly generate more revenue per machine.
New Laws and Regulations Can ENCOURAGE Innovation
Not all the laws and regulations passed by the states discourage innovation, though, some of them are specifically designed to increase innovation. One example is the law passed in Nevada in 2015 which made skill-gaming video slot machines a thing. That law also legalized cashless wagering on the casino floors in the state.
There’s also a new bit of regulation called “New Innovation Beta” which tries to address the problem of consumers not being able to field-test the games before they’re fully approved.
Another 2017 gambling law lets game manufacturers roll out new games even if they don’t have a license under one condition, a licensed game manufacturer must take responsibility for their work. This is often an easier deal for a gaming manufacturer to negotiate than getting certified by the state.
Other states like Louisiana and Ohio have loosened up their regulations regarding the shipments of casino games in their jurisdictions.
What the Future Holds for Casino Innovation
Some of the issues affecting the future of casino innovation relate to regulation, but others deal with factors like casino policies. One way the industry can foster innovation is to work with the various regulatory bodies to increase communication between them.
Another aspect of casino innovation is how the casinos are going to deal with a society that just doesn’t use cash very often.
Back in the day, credit card machines weren’t very popular.
Electronic checks and payments over the phone with a credit card were basically unheard of. You didn’t pay for things with credit in person, either.
Now, it’s the rare person who uses cash to pay for anything. In fact, I often run into cashiers at restaurants or grocery stores who obviously couldn’t make change if the computer in front of them didn’t tell them what amount to return.
Social Media and Archaic Casino Policies
Casinos haven’t yet adapted well to a world where social media is becoming increasingly important. Most casinos still don’t allow, or they at least frown upon, the use of photography and cell phones on the casino floor.
Casinos do this out of respect for the privacy of their customers. They also want to make sure people aren’t using their phones or cameras to cheat. The casinos need to find a way to accomplish these same goals while still being social media friendly.
And in modern social media, people like to post photos and videos. In fact, casinos probably should allow some kind of live streaming from their customers. Failure to do this is going to cost them money and customers.
Casinos and game manufacturers could best be described as having been thoughtful and cautious about introducing innovations to the casino floor. But they’re going to need to become more daring if they want to innovate and keep up with the rest of the entertainment industry.
They also need to do so without hurting the honesty and fairness of the games they offer.
The casino industry is concerned with, and should be concerned with, innovation. They seem to be falling behind the kinds of innovation we’re seeing in other entertainment industries like movies, television, and video games.
The industry executives are becoming aware of the importance of their need to innovate, so I think we can expect big changes moving forward.
Possibly the most exciting changes to come in the casino industry is the embracing of social media, photographs, and live streaming.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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