Skill-based slots: is this the future of gambling?

In Massachusetts, a debate is raging about skill-based slots, or slots with results based not entirely on luck, but also partly on insight, tactics and dexterity. These slots are therefore more about ‘skills’ than pure luck. The same discussion is taking place in other American states.

The main reason for bringing skill-based slot machines to casinos is that they may attract young people to the casino. The group of casino visitors is aging as fast as the group of church visitors in the north-east of Groningen. Young people simply do not feel attracted to slot machines or lucky games such as roulette. Poker, on the other hand, is popular, especially because there is a large dexterity factor and you play against other, physical players of flesh and blood rather than against ‘the computer’.

Young people prefer playing games of skill
On Facebook, on the Playstation and at the fair, young people play plenty of games. They are also happy to pay for extra credits, extra lives, extra options or just to play a game. The condition seems to be that the outcome is not determined by dumb luck, but by the abilities of the participants.

Many young people would rather play Candy Crush than Starburst and rather play FIFA 2016 than Gonzo’s Quest. Young people are not afraid to spend money on extra features in Candy Crush or, for example, to have better players on their team in FIFA 2016 when they play live against other players.

In Nevada – the US state of which Las Vegas is the capital – skill-based slot machines are already allowed. In online casinos, you also see them occasionally, with games that are partly based on skill. Critics are particularly concerned that these skill-based games are more addictive than traditional casino games such as slots, roulette and craps.

Skill games in online casinos
From time to time you’ll find games in online casinos that rely not only on luck, but also on skill and tactics. In some online casinos, for example, you’ll find backgammon for money or you’ll find the so-called casino dice games, which are especially popular in Belgium.

In casino dice games you play on a kind of slot machine, but you may decide yourself where to place the symbols. For example, if you already have two good paying symbols in a row and you can lay down a third one, you can of course lay that symbol down next to the other two so that you can receive a good payout.

These casino dice games are a combination of luck and skill. Luck, because you’ll be assigned the symbols you need to place in your slot machine. Compare it to cards. With really good cards, even a bad player wins, with really bad cards, even a good player doesn’t win, and everything in between comes down to your skills.

Are skill games all hosanna?
More interaction, competing against other players in the online casino and winning based on your skills rather than chance and luck. It will sound like music to many people’s ears. However, there are some drawbacks…

For example, for people who are simply not good at computer games and games of skill. There are whole tribes of people who cannot manage to hit anything in the shooting gallery at the fair. Or people who cannot finish a game on the Playstation or Xbox or win a match against other players with FIFA 2016.

For these players, gambling online means losing online. The fun is quickly lost when you simply cannot master the skill required to win a particular game. Fortunately, there are other games or casino games, such as the old-fashioned slot machine, that don’t require any dexterity.

Some games are simply difficult
Online casinos also want to make money. Players who dream of a millionaire’s career thanks to a game of skill – which they perfectly master – in an online casino may also pinch themselves. The luck factor will play a role or something is so difficult that it is virtually impossible to always achieve the desired result.

That sounds vague. Therefore we clarify this with an example. Suppose, for instance, that Holland Casino offers ‘darts’ as a game and that you win if you throw 180 with three darts. In other words, you win if you hit the triple 20 three times. Even the real top players fail to do this more often than not. Darts is a game of skill and certainly not a game of luck, but if you have a prize when you throw 180, you will more often not have a prize than a prize. No matter how well you practice throwing darts.

Then there is the factor of gambling addiction. Most online casino players know full well that casino games are a matter of chance and luck. It’s simple: either you’re lucky and win something, or you’re not lucky that day and win nothing.

Most experts agree that games of chance are less addictive than games of skill. Because skill-based slot machines are all about skill, it is more tempting to keep playing. Players are usually confident of their own abilities and think that they will succeed the next time they try.

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