Slot machines continue to dominate the casino gaming scene. They fill the majority of gambling floors and collectively draw millions of gamblers every day.
However, young people don’t play slot machines as much as older generations. That said, you may wonder how long slots can continue to reign supreme.
I’m going to cover exactly how much casinos rely on slots revenue and if/when these games will finally be overtaken.
How High Are Slot Machines in the Casino Hierarchy?
The term slot machine applies to both video poker and reel-based slots games. The latter category, however, is definitely what brings the most money into casinos.
Looking at the latest UNLV gaming report, Nevada casinos earned $12.03 billion in gambling revenue in 2019. Slots brought in $7.93 billion of this amount, or 65.9% of the total revenue.
Clearly, you can see that slot machines are still the dominate force in the Silver State. Of course, Nevada doesn’t represent every gambling jurisdiction across the world.
Macau and Singapore, for example, draw the majority of their gaming revenue from baccarat. Overall, though, slots continue to be the breadwinner in most gambling jurisdictions.
What Threatens to Overtake Casino Slots?
Table games in general offer the closest competition to slots. They earned $4.10 billion in Nevada last year and, as Singapore and Macau show, can sometimes lead the way.
In this section, though, I’ll look at more-specific threats to slot machines in the future. Such threats include everything from a single table game to sports gambling.
Blackjack used to be the most-prominent table game around the world. It still is in Nevada after hauling in $1.11 billion in 2019.
However, baccarat has closed this gap considerably in recent years after making $1.05 billion. The numbers show everything on its comeuppance:
Blackjack made $1.17 billion in 2000.
Blackjack made $1.11 billion in 2019 – 0.1% decrease over the last two decades
Baccarat made $541.6 million in 2000.
Baccarat made $1.05 billion in 2019 – 100.5% increase over the last two decades
Whether baccarat ultimately overtakes blackjack in the Silver State remains to be seen. But it’s definitely trending in this direction, though.
Even if baccarat doesn’t become the biggest table game in Nevada, it still rules many Asian casinos. This factor alone makes it a big challenger to slots dominance.
Virtual Reality Gaming
Again, younger generations—especially millennials—don’t play slot machines like Baby Boomers and Gen X do. They’ve grown up with advanced gaming technology, including Xbox, PlayStation, and smartphones.
They’re not easily entertained by pushing the spin button over and over. Most people want a more-stimulating and/or tech-heavy experience.
Casinos hoped that skill-based slot machines would fill this role. They haven’t. Virtual reality (VR) could deliver where skill-based games have failed.
Of course, VR itself has experienced plenty of misfires over the years. It was supposed to usher in a new era of video gaming in the 1990s.
These failures aside, though, the gambling industry has become more interested in virtual reality in recent years. Heavy Facebook, Google, and Sony investments into the space have only fueled such interest.
Casinos could do a lot of intriguing things with virtual reality. For example, they could transport you to a Caribbean beachside location to play blackjack.
The gambling world has renewed interest in sports gambling after the fall of PASPA. States, established bookmakers, casinos, and even daily fantasy sports sites are jumping in the frenzy.
The US sports betting market alone could be worth up to $5.2 billion by 2023. Of course, this amount doesn’t even equal Nevada’s casino revenue.
However, you also have to consider that legal sports betting was only worth around $250 million before PASPA’s fall in 2018. This figure came entirely from Nevada’s legal sportsbooks.
A near-$5 billion increase would mark an impressive rise for an industry that’s still gaining its footing. Who knows how much the worldwide market could be worth in the coming years if more jurisdictions legalize sports betting.
Up until the 2000s, poker carried the reputation of being a degenerate’s game. But its perception has changed greatly within the past 15+ years.
Many see poker as the ultimate form of skill-based gambling. They also view it as an opportunity to become rich through multimillion-dollar tournaments.
Online poker isn’t quite what it used to be. However, the live scene has been thriving more so than at any other point in time.
The World Series of Poker continues breaking attendance records year after year. The future looks bright for live tournaments.
Player vs Player Esports
Esports betting has experienced a sharp rise within the last five years. Once a completely niche form of gambling, it has now invaded the majority of regulated and nonregulated online sportsbooks.
But esports betting currently serves as more of a popular alternative to gambling on traditional sports. The real money may ultimately be found in player-vs-player betting.
PvP esports gambling gives amateurs the ability to wager on their own skills. Somebody who’s not even close to being a pro-level gamer can still play with money on the line.
My thoughts on PvP esports betting are based on pure speculation more than anything. But this newer type of gambling could certainly become a force once it takes off.
What Do Slot Machines Promise in the Future?
Slots developers aren’t just going to sit idly by while other types of gambling improve. Instead, they’ll continue to add and/or experiment with the following ideas—some of which could become quite popular.
As mentioned earlier, casinos are interested in applying virtual reality to slot machines. The online developer NetEnt has already released VR versions of Gonzo’s Quest and Jack and the Beanstalk.
Gaming conferences have also teased virtual reality experiences with slots. It’s only a matter of time before these games begin appearing in greater frequency throughout online and brick-and-mortar casinos.
Connections Between Slots and Other Types of Gambling
Slot machines have traditionally been dedicated to a lone game. Of course, modern technology gives developers so much more room to work with.
Casinos will likely offer all-in-one kiosks in the future that house multiple games. For example, a kiosk could feature 5-10 different slots, blackjack, roulette, and sports betting. The latter would make for a nice tie-in, because sports gambling is on the rise.
Slot machine providers continue to offer richly detailed 3D graphics. Of course, 3D is nothing new with slots, so developers are now rolling out 4D games.
4D technology makes the symbols and background graphics feel closer than ever before. It doesn’t even require virtual reality to make games feel more lifelike.
Why Slots Will Continue to Dominate Casinos for Years to Come
Plenty of challenges exist in the gaming world. However, the following reasons suggest that slot machines will continue to be the casino kings.
They Make Money for Casinos
Gambling establishments don’t exist just to provide entertainment. Instead, casinos expect to profit from the games they offer.
More than anything else, slot machines offer the greatest profit potential to casinos. They play fast, feature large house edges (on average), and let gamblers bet up to $100 or more.
Baccarat, poker, and sports betting are all very entertaining too. However, table games and sportsbooks don’t offer the same profit potential as a floor full of slots.
Slot Machines Are Easy to Play
Some gamblers are intimidated by the casino floor. They don’t want to sit down to a blackjack table and be ridiculed or try understanding plus and minus signs associated with sports betting odds.
Slots offer the perfect route for beginning gamblers who want action without the headaches. They merely need to choose their bet size and select spin to get started.
They Offer Plenty of Innovative Opportunities
Slot machines have undergone big changes since they first hit casino floors in the 1930s. Today’s games are far superior to those from yesteryear in terms of both technology and entertainment value.
Slots developers aren’t standing still either. They continue trying new ideas and doing whatever they can to improve the experience. Whether it’s 4D graphics or virtual reality, slot machines will continue to bring new possibilities.
People have been talking about the demise of slot machines for years. Sure, younger generations aren’t playing them now.
But slots still make far more money than anything else for casinos. They also innovate to attract new types of customers.
Absolutely nothing threatens to dethrone slot machines in the near future. I wouldn’t be surprised if they remain on top in casinos for at least another 50-100 years.
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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