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The Future Is Now

Predicting the future is no easy task, but if you look close enough you can discover the trends and innovations that will shape the casino industry in the years to come.

The Future Is Now

One of my favorite genres when I finally get time to read some fiction are books about time travel. Granted there aren’t too many good ones because, well, we really can’t see into the future. I just finished one written in the 1960s where the time travelers advance a few years at a time until they’re 1 million years in the future. And in not one stop along the way were people staring at their phones or handheld devices.

In some ways, attending G2E each year is a peek into the future, but only by about five years ahead at the most. While most of the designers of products for gaming are very intelligent and creative, they can only work with what they have and what their customers want. And we’ve got multiple examples of companies over the years that have overreached, resulting in crashing and burning—can you say “skill games?”

Let’s do a little exercise to imagine what gaming will be like in 2072, 50 years from now.

Slot machines are something we now believe will survive, although a few years ago people were beginning to question that. But I think it’s still possible, so let’s take a two-pronged fork in the road.

Down one fork there are no more “machines” but there are definitely games. The games are played primarily on our personal devices and linked to our personal accounts, where you can pick up right where you left off. In that world, will casinos still even exist? If you can access all of your favorite games through a single device, why even bother going to a place just to play games when you can do that anywhere? It makes every corner of the known world a casino.

The other fork may be more likely. Just as we thought the slot machine was in demise a few years ago, today’s slots give the phrase “bells and whistles” new meaning. Just read Frank Legato’s Global Games section in this edition of the magazine. Believe me, these are not your grandmother’s slot games anymore.

We already see that places to enjoy playing slot machines are expanding greatly. In addition to casinos, racetracks, airports, gas stations, convenience stores and bars and restaurants, how long will it be before you can gamble at your local library, all for a good cause?

But for machines to survive, you’re going to have to make them truly special. How about putting some machines in one of those VR capsules that normally would give customers that roller coaster experience, but make it more vital and more fun when you win a slot jackpot? We’ve already seen gaming companies experimenting with the “augmented reality” goggles. You might have laughed them off at first try, but it’s a concept that is truly in its infancy.

Another technology that’s in its infancy is holograms. Maybe instead of “going” to the casino, you can “beam” yourself to the casino? Imagine playing craps from your armchair in your living room. Or getting together for a poker night with the crew via hologram. The applications are endless.

Last month we gave you a glimpse into the future of table games with the “live” dealer concept currently being utilized by the online casinos. One of the leading ETG manufacturers is coming out with a “live” dealer on the actual casino floor, and this expands the concept of playing a game at home but still in the raucous environment of a winning table.

I believe it will be possible to “design” your experience on the casino floor due to the data that the casino has collected about you. I hate this aspect—I haven’t done any DNA ancestry tests or set up facial recognition on my phone because I don’t want the government or its allied corporations knowing more about me than I’m willing to give. But I know I’m fighting a losing battle here, and the casinos 50 years from now will know every nook and cranny of our personalities, thereby giving you a choice on your games, your entertainment and your experience—outside of winning and losing, of course. The data analysis we see today is a mere shadow of what is to come.

Now if I hear “sports betting is still in its infancy” one more time… I’ll again be convinced that’s right and there are many ways that teams and leagues can get closer to their fans via wagering. We’re already seeing sportsbooks opening up in stadiums and arenas. What if that’s just a foot in the door for casino-style games? Would make sense.

But I believe people will be surprised how esports will be almost as pervasive as mainstream sports are today. Most of it will be online with the players sitting in their pajamas, but I’m sure some smart entrepreneur in the next 50 years will find the key that will finally allow casinos to attract that valuable demographic.

Now most of the things we discussed today are really just extensions of what is already occurring, so it’s not like I popped into the future for a glimpse. But I’m fully willing to go if someone does the hard work of inventing a time machine.

Roger Gros is publisher of Global Gaming Business, the industry's leading gaming trade publication, and all its related publications. Prior to joining Global Gaming Business, Gros was president of Inlet Communications, an independent consulting firm. He was vice president of Casino Journal Publishing Group from 1984-2000, and held virtually every editorial title during his tenure. Gros was editor of Casino Journal, the National Gaming Summary and the Atlantic City Insider, and was the founding editor of Casino Player magazine. He was a co-founder of the American Gaming Summit and the Southern Gaming Summit conferences and trade shows. He is the author of the best-selling book, How to Win at Casino Gambling (Carlton Books, 1995), now in its fourth edition. Gros was named "Businessman of the Year" for 1998 by the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce, and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Gaming Association in 2012.

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