New Jersey Approves Skill-Based Gaming Machines

ian bruce
Written by Ian Bruce
Published on Wednesday 19th October 2016, 9:58 am
Posted in: Casino New Games

Casino New Games

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), which regulates gambling in the state, has given the go-ahead for skill-based gaming machines (which are officially known as Video Game Gambling Machines or VGM’s) to be deployed at three casinos in Atlantic City. Approval for the deployment was granted to GameCo Inc., which pioneered the VGM, and the company is already hoping to launch its products in Nevada in 2017.

VGM’s are designed to appeal to the video gaming generation, and give players the opportunity to win cash by demonstrating their gaming skill rather than relying purely on luck. This is something of a break in tradition for casinos, which have previously focused almost entirely on offering games where the outcome cannot be influenced by the player. Of course, there are already some exceptions to this, because Blackjack, Poker and a few other games do already give players the chance to improve their odds of winning (to a greater or lesser extent) by playing more skilfully, as we have discussed elsewhere in our article on Skill or Luck.

The first skill-based VGM to arrive at Harrah’s, Caesars and Bally’s casinos in Atlantic City (all of which are owned by Caesars Entertainment) is Danger Arena. Housed in what looks like a video arcade cabinet, it features a rugged handheld controller that will feel very familiar to those who enjoy playing games on home gaming consoles such as the Xbox One or Playstation 4. 

Danger Arena is a first-person shooter which involves fighting robots called Danger Bots. Players deposit their cash into the machine as they would with a regular video slot, and then select their required stake via a touch screen. The game then runs the player through a concise tutorial level that explains the objective and the controls, as well as serving as a self-diagnostic procedure to ensure that the controller is working as it should.

This title has more than 10,000 different map levels, and one of these is selected at random when the game proper begins. Players then have to navigate their way around the level and try to shoot as many robots as possible. Shooting six robots puts players in the money, and shooting ten will give them the highest payout for their staking level.

It is too early to say how Danger Arena will be greeted by players, but we think it should certainly prove popular with millennials who like the idea of combining regular video gaming with the opportunity to win money. Indeed, if the concept of skill-based video gaming takes off, we could well see some people choose to play VGM’s on a professional basis in the future, just as some card game enthusiasts have become professional poker players.

Whilst GameCo is the first company to launch VGM’s, it is not the only company working in the field, and we expect several other companies to introduce their own take on the new concept in the near future. We also think that online skill-based games are something that companies will be wanting to explore at some point.

‘We are thrilled to be the market leader in a global industry effort to attract the next generation of players to the casino floor," said Blaine Graboyes, who is Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of GameCo. ‘With this approval from the DGE, the VGM is officially the first skill-based video game gambling product approved by any U.S. gaming jurisdiction regulator.’

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