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GameCo looks to bring video gamers to casinos with new machines

A rendering depicting GameCo's video game gambling machines

A rendering depicting GameCo's video game gambling machines in a casino. Credit: GameCo

Slot machines with video game-style mechanics could be coming to Long Island-area casinos, as gambling platform developer GameCo hopes to entice younger gamblers to spend more time and money on the game floor.

That is enticing for officials at Jake’s 58 in Islandia, Long Island’s sole casino, who said they believe GameCo’s offering has “some appeal, especially to the younger demographic.”

Unlike other video slot machines, GameCo’s titles allow users to play a short interactive game to increase their chances of winning cash. The Manhattan-based company recently launched the latest iteration of its video game gambling machines, called VGMs, which marry console gameplay similar to titles on Xbox One and Playstation 4 with traditional slot machines.

“Slot revenues have been fairly stagnant, and in fact decreasing based on every $1,000 of income over the past decade,” said Blaine Graboyes, founder and CEO of GameCo. “What we’ve done at GameCo is create a way to play video games in the casino under much of the same regulatory and compliance structure as [video] poker and blackjack.”

Chuck Kilroy, general manager for Jake’s 58 said that while the casino is interested in implementing the machines, GameCo must first receive regulatory approval in New York. The company has not yet begun talks with the New York State Gaming Commission for permission to license to commercial casinos in New York State. However, GameCo is currently working with the New York Seneca tribe to provide its machines to tribal gaming casinos.

GameCo is allowed to operate in Connecticut, New Jersey, North Carolina and California, as well as the Caribbean. Richard Maryyanek, GameCo’s global business development head, said he expects the company to receive approval to operate in a majority of the largest gambling markets in the United States, including Las Vegas, by the beginning of 2018.

The largest group of slot machine players typically tend to be women over the age of 50, GameCo’s research indicates; however, company officials say they believe that catering the gameplay mechanics to PC and console gamers can entice players who wouldn’t typically interact with slot games to look at electronic gambling machines in a new light.

Like traditional slot games, players of GameCo’s machines who bet more money will be eligible to win bigger jackpots. They will also get better power-ups to help them increase their score, but will see increasing difficulty as the game goes on.

“We make games that appeal to all gamers of all ages, and we’ve had all ages playing our games,” said Graboyes. “Bringing millennials to the gaming floor is critical, but this is a product that can bring a wide range of constituents to the floor.”

Of the area casinos that have implemented GameCo’s machines, Foxwoods in Connecticut said it has seen moderate success since debuting the devices in May. Bryan Hayes, vice president of Analytics and Slot Operations at Foxwoods, said more than half of the average VGM players tend to be between 21 and 44 years old.

“This is definitely a shift from our traditional slot guest which skews female and 55-plus,” said Hayes. “In the end, the games have been successful in providing gaming entertainment for a group of guests that we have historically not seen play traditional machines.”

Not everyone is on board with the idea, however.

Some gambling parlors, like Empire City Casino in Yonkers, aren’t currently interested in implementing VGMs, mainly due to the fact that they are not as focused on attracting millennial-aged gamblers as they are in bringing in older customers, a spokeswoman for the casino said.

“While we are always working to expand our market… our marketing efforts focus on a demographic aged 35 and over,” said Taryn Duffy, director of Public Affairs for Empire City Casino.

Graboyes acknowledges that there is still a long road ahead if GameCo wants to perfect its machines and bring about the industry disruption he originally envisioned.

“We’re not afraid to fail in public,” he said. “Because we want to try things, and we’re going to figure out the optimal way to bring these experiences to the casino.”

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