In any industry, if a company fails to adapt to the changing habits of its client base then it’s ultimately set up to fail.
Supermarkets have attempted to stay in tune with the digital generation by offering opportunities to both order shopping online to be collected from a store or even have the products delivered to a home.
Meanwhile, changes to the way televised entertainment is absorbed means that DVDs and alike are now heavily redundant. The millennial generation at the forefront of today’s landscape are accustomed to downloading everything they need.
One industry that hasn’t really made the adjustment to the wants and desires of this group is the casino industry, both through the games offered and the appeal of the whole experience.
If this is to change, taking a lead from eSports seems an obvious starting point.
The current casino product
“We (millennials) see slot machines, no matter the skin they’ve draped on it, as nails on chalkboard. With the lack of interactivity, the shallowness of the game and the lack of social reward it doesn’t hold our attention.”
An article on Medium.com from Robert Rippee, a director at the Hospitality Lab within the University of Nevada’s International Gaming Institute, quoted this from Levi Larkin, who is both a millennial and an eSports expert.
Current casino games aren’t tailored towards the digital world. Instead, in their present guises they appeal more to the baby boomer generation which came ahead of the millennials. This generation didn’t have computers in school and haven’t grown up with the internet. They have no ties with social experiences or adrenaline-pumping computer games.
Table games within casinos are hard to market towards the digital generation, although the growing addition of side bets to increase betting possibilities and make the games appear faster paced must count as a step in the right direction of advancement.
However, it is in slots and other computerised offerings where the real renovation and innovation is needed.
The potential with eSports
At its most fundamental level, eSports are basically competitive video games. People play online against each other individually or in teams.
However, rather than a youngster inviting his friend over for dinner and a few games of FIFA, all kinds of league structures and live tournaments are now arranged. Many of which even draw big crowds.
For the elite, not only is prize money offered for victory, but vast sponsorship opportunities also exist. The 2015 League of Legend Worlds final was watched by over 43 million unique viewers, in 18 languages.
It is believed that close to 600 million people will be watching by 2020, while US universities are now preparing scholarships. Full-time jobs are available in the industry too, such as content creation for numerous websites including YouTube.
Casinos have to do a better job at appealing to this audience.
The early steps
Some venues have previously decided that launching nightclubs within a casino would be a productive way of attracting a younger audience, who then may be more inclined to wander around and experience the games on offer.
However, the launch of the Casino eSport Conference has the potential to offer bigger breakthroughs, with a two-day event scheduled for Las Vegas in September.
Among the itinerary is likely to be the possibility of major casino venues hosting high-profile eSports tournaments, in the same way they house box-office boxing bouts and the concerts of megastar musicians.
Along similar lines, simply acquiring the streaming to top-level tournaments could get more millennials through the doors to socialise together in groups while the events develop.
Obviously, the grand overall plan has to be the installation of gaming lounges within casinos to bring the live tournament experience to keen amateur players.
The big question for casinos then is whether they would just supply the games already popular on the eSports stage, such as Dota, League of Legends and Smite, or whether they would look to develop their own?
One company has already begun tests on a tweaked version of poker, which combines elements of traditional Hold’em with strategic video games.
The theory is that X cards allow players to turn a hand in their favour by manipulating it to their advantage. This could be a card guaranteeing them top pair on the board, switching a spade to a club or having a flop re-dealt.
The millennial generation has clearly not featured prominently enough in casino industry planning in recent times and a failure to correct this oversight threatens to have negative ramifications in the coming years.
They are sure to be a casino’s most important customer for at least the next decade and so appealing to their needs and wants is paramount. Leaning on eSports is one way of keeping pace and the fact that the two things are at least being spoken of in the same sentence is a sign a future plan taking shape.
Shoots of progress are also being witnessed in the early developments of fast-paced, multi-player computer games which give players the chance to bet on certain things happening.
These are not not necessarily being positioned within casinos, instead in locations more popular with the millennial demographic. Once, or if, popular, shifting them into casinos will become a no brainer.