Chastity Irwin of Dayton, Ohio on Thursday, 2022. May 19, playing slots at Circa in Las Vegas. “I’ve been to a few different places and I’ve made quite a bit of money,” Irwin said. (Steel Brooks/Las Vegas Review Magazine)
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Drew McKenna of Portland, Ore., on Thursday, 2022. May 19, playing Circa slots in Las Vegas. (Steel Brooks/Las Vegas Review Magazine)
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Sierra Johnson, left, and Drew McKenna of Portland, Ore., play slots at Circa 2022. Thursday, May 19, in Las Vegas. (Steel Brooks/Las Vegas Review Magazine)
Sheila Mullenax of Little Rock, Arkansas on Thursday, 2022. May 19, playing Circa slots in Las Vegas. “They’re so cute,” he said. (Steel Brooks/Las Vegas Review Magazine)
Slots, those ubiquitous devices that generate more revenue than any other casino game, are hotter than ever.
According to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, there are more than 120,000 of them in 330 licensed off-limits locations in Nevada, including more than 85,000 in Clark County.
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And that doesn’t even include slot machines at more than 2,000 restricted license locations, mostly convenience stores, bars and restaurants, which can have up to 15 machines per location.
In the last 12 months, from 2021 in April through March, slot machines operated by unlimited licensees in Nevada generated $9.085 billion. USD of 14.375 billion USD won by the casino. In the 12 months before the pandemic, from 2019 in April until 2020 In March, slots earned $7.123 billion. USD, ie 27.5 percent. less revenue, and it was 457 licensees.
Industry experts, including slot machine manufacturers, casino owners and analysts, agree that COVID-19 has ultimately had a positive impact on gaming industry revenue growth. Suspended demand and more money in consumers’ pockets in the form of stimulus checks helped draw people to casinos when they reopened after the pandemic.
Experts also noted that manufacturers doubled the slots to make them more attractive, especially to casual players.
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“There was a lack of entertainment options in some places, and the gaming industry benefited from that,” said Todd Eilers, director of Irvine, Calif.-based industry research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming.
“There was an unprecedented federal stimulus that really increased consumer spending, and that obviously had an impact. When the market reopened, there were players who hadn’t been to the casino in a while, so demand was pent up. Consumers with more money to spend. That’s what drove up spending.” slot machines than there were before COVID.”
Eilers said the rise in slots wasn’t just a Nevada phenomenon. In all US and Canadian casinos in 2021 Total gaming revenue was 13% higher than before COVID at $108 billion.
Slots performed better than table games, and Eilers noted that table game revenue is still 4 to 5 percent lower than it was before the pandemic.
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“I think it’s a combination of factors related to the pandemic that is driving the high performance of slots in the industry,” said Nick Khin, director of global gaming operations at London-based IGT, which has a large presence. in Las Vegas.
“First, people who stayed away from casinos because of the pandemic really missed out on gambling, and now that most of the population is vaccinated or infected with COVID, they feel a lot more comfortable coming back. So, yes, there was some question,” he said. said
“We also have to remember that at the height of the pandemic, because of all the uncertainty, people cut back their spending significantly, which is evidenced by higher savings rates. This means that people may have budgeted as much or more for entertainment than they were used to.”
But it’s not just pent-up demand and bigger betting budgets, said industry analyst Brendan Bussmann, founder of Las Vegas-based B Global.
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“There are multiple reasons for the increase in slot revenue,” he said. “Partly this is the continued growth of the sector after the pandemic, but operators and service providers are also responding to customers about the games that can be found on the floor. The last two years have really changed from what we thought to be today.”
Marcus Prater, a former head of the Gaming Equipment Manufacturers Association who retired in February, said manufacturers’ investments in hardware have led to more attractive devices than five years ago.
Manufacturers such as IGT, Aruze Gaming and Aristocrat have created slots that rise above the player and include more screens and colorful graphics that engage the user.
“If in 2010 run a casino and only come back in 2022, you’d be like, ‘Oh my God, it looks completely different,'” Prater said. “The visual appeal on the floor is very different from years ago.
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Josh Swissman, founder of the Las Vegas-based Strategy Organization, said he worked at the front desk at a resort early in his career and always remembers the slot machines near his workplace. Stencils enticing people to play the wheel of fortune slot machine.
“Producers have been working hard on co-branding and third-party content deals,” Swissman said. “The most famous is probably the “Wheel of Fortune” deal. I think that’s what really attracts people to play those slots.
“You only have to walk the casino floor and compare it to the casino floor 10 years ago to see that these slot machines are incredible technology with all these big curved screens, amazing lighting and sound sequences,” said the Swiss. “These manufacturers are great at attracting the attention of casino customers, including casual casino customers.”
IGT’s Khin said Eilers & Krejcik reported that Wheel of Fortune and Megabucks were named the top wide-zone jackpot games in North America.
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“As you know, we just celebrated 25 years with Wheel of Fortune,” he said, noting that tried-and-tested games seem to outlast many new ones.
Derek Stevens, owner of Circa, The D and Golden Gate, said there has been a noticeable increase in group gaming and stadium-style electronic board games.
One such example is Go Go Claw, a crane-like skill game reminiscent of pizza parlor arcades. Only the winning players get money instead of a teddy bear. Stevens said that while the game is actually a slot machine, groups treat it as a social game because they can take turns playing to see who has a tricky hand.
“Group games and camaraderie are really important to me right now,” Stevens said. “Maybe it also goes back to the pandemic, because you really want people to be able to be together.”
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Electronic table games took off when COVID hit, as many casinos required social distancing and people refused to get too close to other people, even if they were wearing masks.
Electronic board games come in many forms. Some have live dealers with electronic betting terminals. Some are configured “stadium style” with multiple terminals. Some have completely virtual distributors.
“There was a reluctance to live at tables because of social distancing rules,” Eilers said. “In some cases, casinos have adapted them because of the rising costs of paying more dealers with increasing salaries.”
He said there were about 14,000 electronic table games on the casino market before COVID. At the end of 2021, there were 17,720 units, an increase of about 27 percent.
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“I don’t think skill-based games aimed at a younger audience were part of the growth equation. Tried and tested games are still the most popular,” IGT’s Khin said.
Most agree that while there is still room for growth in the short term as the international travel and conference business returns to pre-pandemic levels, most agree that the slot boom is not a sustainable proposition.
Industry insiders warn that the macro economy could dampen the entire streak. The rapid economic recovery has gone from one extreme to the other, and now Americans are facing the highest inflation in 40 years. In April, the consumer price index rose 8.3 percent from a year ago, with everything from food to fuel to furniture becoming more expensive.
“I’ve had some concerns lately,” Stevens said. “There is a lot of pent-up demand to get out of the pandemic. However, I am concerned about the impact of inflation. Transportation costs have definitely increased, and what is very, very important is the cost of flights (to Las Vegas). and it jumps to the sky.
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Others are less concerned. Prater said visiting Las Vegas is doing well, even with the decline in international travel, and as long as travelers have pocket money, there will be gamblers.
Still-retired Las Vegas gaming executive Charlie Lombardo, who now works as a consultant for Seminole Gaming and Hard Rock International, issued the warning.
“We’ve always said we’re recession-proof because people always have money to gamble, have sex and drink,” he said. “I think that’s not true today. One, there are so many casinos, and two, I think there’s so much uncertainty in the world today, I think people
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