AGEM Seeks Skill-Game Approval

The Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers is seeking a change to Nevada law that would explicitly permit games in which skill can attain better odds.

The Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers, the trade organization representing more than 100 gaming suppliers including the top slot manufacturers in the industry, is asking Nevada lawmakers to approve a law specifically addressing games of skill.

The organization presented the idea to a joint state legislative committee looking into new technologies, the Committee to Conduct an Interim Study Concerning the Impact of Technology Upon Gaming, and plans to formulate a bill on skill games in next year’s legislative session.

Under the proposal, an amendment to Nevada gaming laws would specifically provide that skill—physical dexterity, hand/eye coordination, knowledge—can be a factor in improving the odds of an electronic gaming machine.

Slot manufacturers have been toying with skill games for years, with companies such as IGT and Bally employing skill in bonus rounds of games like Centipede, Tulley’s Treasure Hunt (IGT) and All That Jazz (Bally)—in the games out there, skill can attain a higher bonus award, while less-skilled players still receive some bonus. 

Such slots typically afford the player a chance to opt for a pure chance-based free-spin bonus instead of the skill game. Under AGEM’s proposal the concept of a variable payback percentage would be built into computer programs.

“We basically polled every one and asked them to come up with 20 or so crazy ideas, AGEM Executive Director Marcus Prater told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “This seemed to be the most important idea.” Payback percentages would be improved some 6 points with sufficient skill, in what would be the first rule allowing variable payback percentages on a slot.

The proposal is aimed at bringing younger players to the slot floor. Casino players under 40 who grew up playing skill-based video games are far less inclined that older players to sit at a traditional slot machine. Slot-makers have been trying to find a way to appeal to that younger demographic, and AGEM officials think making slots more like video games may be the way.