The iPad May Reinvent the Reel; Casinos Embrace Portable Technology

09 October 2012

iPad plays Video Slots; the wave of casino future

Photograph by Steve Marcus, VegasInc

The Global Gaming Expo (G2E) has revealed several thoughts and clues to the future of gambling, both on and offline. Portable and touchscreen technology reigned supreme, highlighting the industry’s movement toward personal interaction and social integration.

It’s like offline, online gambling. Portable, accessible, technologically savvy, but rooted within the casino’s very real, very social environment.

There are several reasons why iPad’s touchscreen technology may be attractive to casinos.

  • Fresh players. Markets already using the technology are noting that the average of iPad slots players is five years younger than the slot machine crowd. That’s five more years of revenue in a player’s lifetime.
  • Huge cost savings. An iPad retails for $500. A slot cabinet goes for around $22,000.
  • Games are still games. Using a new interface, but not necessarily new games, means that casinos can still use several of their licensed attractions without a complete overhaul. Customers can still get the casino “experience” without feeling like its a huge departure from what they were expecting.
  • It’s inevitable. “If we’re going to survive, we’ve got to change the way we do things,” Deana Scott, marketing director for casino technology company Acres 4.0, told an audience at last week’s Global Gaming Expo, where many of the ideas were discussed. “Over time, what we do now will become obsolete.”

A recent Vegas Inc article thinks that the moment of obsoletism is coming sooner than any of us can imagine. Not only in our lifetimes, but quite possibly within the pages of our extended calendars. Five years, says the article. Five years and “the slot machines you see in casinos today could soon be things of the past.”

The use of mobile casino games isn’t exactly new. Keno, arguably the first “mobile” casino game, allowed players to participate fully in a game while still being able to move about the casino. That mobility is attracting a larger segment of players, who are no longer satisfied to being tethered to a desktop, a slot machine, or blackjack table.

The new generation of gambler is highly social; this is evidenced by the growth in revenues of a casino’s peripheral attractions, like their nightclubs, bars, and restaurants. So far, it’s come at the expense of the gambling floor. Casinos are hopeful that portable technology, like the iPad, will allow gambling to integrate with these types of amenities and engage their clients on an active, personal level.

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