Electronic gaming machines - a profile on game selection and placement.
By Andrew MacDonald
Senior Executive Casino Operations, Adelaide Casino, 1996
Utility of Games |
Price Sensitivity |
Denomination and Placement |
The gaming machine market is not a single homogenous mass where one set of rules
or criteria may be universally applied to determine what "makes" a machine appealing
or how it should be positioned within the Casino environs.
What works in one location may not work somewhere else and vice-versa. Many Americans
are surprised by the lack in Australia of three reel slots such as "Liberty Sevens"
or "Red, White and Blue" and the proliferation of multi-line, multiplier games
with seemingly unintelligible paytables.
A look at the different markets may to some extent explain these differences.
In the United States, particularly in the Las Vegas strip market,the market consists
of infrequent visitors or tourists who stay for a few days and who will make a
return visit in the following year or the year after.
These people prefer gaming machines that are easy to understand and less inhibiting
to trial. Thus, their game preference may be likened to the "Space Invaders" or
"Pacman" games of several years ago. Easy to learn, simple to use and not overly
In Australia generally over recent years and typified by the New South Wales Leagues
Clubs, the market is quite different. These "local" clubs have been in existence
for many years and have had access to gaming machines since 1956. They cater to
frequent repeat visitors who quickly tire of any one product and who "demand"
continual change. With the increased computing power in todays gaming machines
that has led to nine line games with special bonus features, animated graphics
and sound blasters. Todays Australian gaming machine player quite simply would
be as bored with a three reel stepper as would todays Nintendo child be bored
with "Space Invaders".
This is in some ways akin to the fact that most "local's Casinos" in Las Vegas
only offer 20% to 25% of their gaming machines as spinning reel slots with the
balance being video pokers.
Video Pokers include a greater element of "skill" and with favourable paytables
offer exceptional return to player percentages. Thus these games are more complex
and less like the three reel simple Spinning Reel game found in Las Vegas strip
In Australia the same did not occur with Video Poker for a variety of reasons
including the fact that "card games" were prohibited from New South Wales Poker
machine clubs and that Poker in itself does not have the same history or tradition
as it does in the United States.
Thus, the first basic fact with regards to gaming machine placement is apparent.
In a sophisticated local environment where the market does not continually change,
it is necessary to continually update and enhance the product offering. Las Vegas
strip Casinos merely continually change their clientele rather than needing to
change the gaming machine product. Emerging "locals" orientated Casinos and gaming
machine venues need to be mindful of this and not be driven by the gaming machine
manufacturers who may want to supply machines based on their own requirements,
but should rather heed the wants of their customer base.
The second issue is that of the "optimal" gaming machine return to player percentages.
Dollar games should be "loose" or the hold on "nickels" (5 cent machines) should
be "x" (y or z).