Slot machines and sports betting have always been separate experiences in land-based casinos. You sit down to a slots game to spin the reels, and you visit a sportsbook to place bets.
It seems logical to keep these two activities separate. However, a new report suggests that combining slots and sports betting is a great way to rev up the gambling experience.
This sounds like an interesting prospect that will enhance the experience for many slots players. But how will it work and what’s the move behind such a change?
Keep reading as I cover this proposal along with how it can pay big dividends for the slots industry. I’ll also discuss other potential ideas for the future of slot machines.
What’s the Proposal Behind Combining Slot Machines and Sports Betting?
BMM Testlabs, an independent gaming certification lab, has released a whitepaper entitled The Past and Future of the Slot Machine.
This report discusses how far slots have come, along with why the industry is stuck today. BMM proposes a number of concepts to make slot machines more exciting and draw younger generations.
Adding a sports betting option is one of the most interesting ideas they float. Here’s the whitepaper’s description on what these machines would offer:
“Simultaneous betting on the slot machine as well as on sports, esports, table game stadium gambling, all from a configurable window on a slot machine.”
BMM believes game developers should also add esports betting and table game “stadium gambling” to slots terminals. But the addition of sports wagering really sticks out due to its immense popularity.
The game-testing lab doesn’t offer ideas on exactly how slots & sports betting terminals would be set up. However, educated guesses can be made on the matter.
Here’s my theory on how these machines might work:
- A gambling terminal features an introduction menu.
- You select whether you want to play slots, bet on sports, wager on esports, or play table games.
- Selecting sports will bring up an online sportsbook-style window.
- You choose the sport and odds that you want to wager on.
Sports betting/slots terminals could differ slightly from the process described above. But the key is that you’d have an option to play slot machines and wager on sports from the same terminal.
Why Does BMM Think That Slots and Sports Gambling should Combine?
Game developers and land-based casino operators frequently discuss millennials’ lack of interest in slots.
Slot machines still do perfectly fine among those aged 50 and older. However, casinos aren’t drawing much slots revenue from younger crowds.
Skill-based slot machines have been rolled out as a solution to the problem. But they’ve yet to capture the attention of younger generations.
BMM Testlabs has offered sports gambling & slot machines as one possible solution for attracting young players. Their whitepaper reads:
Esports betting is another intriguing addition to BMM’s proposed plan. Millennials have truly embraced competitive gaming and enjoy betting on the activity.
Featuring both esports and traditional sports betting on the same slots terminal could pay dividends.
Advantage to Slots & Sports Betting Machines
The ideas proposed in BMM Testlabs’ whitepaper are exactly this – ideas. They’re just one of many gaming entities who’ve discussed ways for the industry to revolutionize itself and appeal to younger crowds.
But BMM, which has offices throughout the world, is also one of the gaming world’s most-respected testing facilities. Their opinion will be highly valued by those in the casino gambling industry.
Gamblers would enjoy a number of advantages if BMM’s whitepaper proposals were put into action. Here are the main benefits that players can appreciate.
More Entertainment from Slot Machines
Slot machines have increased tremendously in terms of entertainment value over the years. Once simple games that operated through mechanical reels, slots now feature 3D graphics, elaborate bonus rounds, and vibrant music.
Nevertheless, younger generations haven’t embraced the process of spinning reels and hoping for random luck. Adding sports betting, esports, and table games is a way to help fix this problem.
Sitting down to a slot machine would no longer mean that you had to play slots. You could instead bet on a football game or play stadium-style blackjack from your terminal.
Slot machines and sportsbooks are currently located in separate sections of land-based casinos. Therefore, gamblers must walk a fair amount to go from playing slots to placing sports bets.
Combining them into one terminal reduces the need to go back and forth between slot machines and the sportsbook. You can instead do all of your betting from a single machine.
Acclimate Yourself to Esports & Sports Betting
You may stick to slot machines because you’re familiar with them. But if you’ve always had a passing interest in sports gambling, then these combination machines would be the perfect way to get started.
You can sit down to a slots game and learn how to bet on sports at the same time. I’m sure that casinos would make the process easy too if these machines come to fruition.
Combination Machines Will Make Sports Betting More Attractive to States
Sports betting used to only be legal in Nevada, Delaware, Montana, and Oregon. Nevada was the only one of these states that could offer full-blown sports gambling.
But the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) has paved the way for more states to legalize the activity.
Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia have already taken advantage of the repeal. Arkansas, California, Illinois, Indiana, New York, and Ohio are just some of the states on the path towards legal sports betting.
Any state that doesn’t currently have legislation in the works might get a nudge from sports betting/slots terminals. These machines would make it more affordable to roll out sports gambling on a wide scale.
Potential Problems with Slots & Sports Betting Terminals
Mixing sports wagering and slot machines together seems like a great idea. It would make both activities more convenient, add extra entertainment to gambling terminals, and help slots players transition to sports betting.
But this isn’t to say that everything is perfect with regard to slots and sports betting being side by side. Here are potential downsides to consider with these combo terminals.
Confusion on How the Machines Work
Earlier I described a simple process for how slots & sports wagering machines could work. However, this doesn’t mean that the actual terminals would be so easy to work.
One reason why many people like slots is because they’re easy to operate. You insert your money, choose betting options, and push the spin button.
Adding sports gambling, esports betting, and table games to the equation figures to complicate matters. You’ll likely have to deal with an introduction menu beforehand, which puts one more step between you and slots or sports wagering.
Temptation to Bet More
Slot machines have long been nicknamed “one-armed bandits” due to their addictive nature. And while slots no longer operate with levers (i.e. one arm), they’re still highly addicting.
Slot machines are designed to suck players in and hold their attention. Partial payouts, exciting sound effects during wins, and bonuses all keep people spinning the reels longer.
Adding sports betting to the equation only increases the temptation to place more bets. Somebody might be ready to quit playing slots, but then switch to sports gambling and risk more money.
Increased Gambling Addiction
Gambling addiction affects between 2% and 3% of all players. Slot machines are the game of choice for many addicts, due to the aforementioned elements like partial payouts and bonuses.
Being able to make sports bets or slots spins in the same place could lead to a higher percentage of gambling addicts. This possibility will also draw the ire of anti-gambling politicians.
Sportsbook Employees Losing Jobs
Land-based sportsbooks need employees to run the counter and carry out other services. But robotizing sports betting would reduce the need for many of these employees.
Oddsmakers will always have a place in the industry, because they’re needed to set lines. However, lower-skilled jobs will slowly disappear as sports betting & slot machines spread.
What Else Does BMM Propose for the Future of Slot Machines?
Adding sports betting to slot machines isn’t the only interesting idea that BMM discusses in their whitepaper. They offer a number of other proposals that can increase casino gambling business.
These ideas include everything from skill-based tournaments to ordering valet service from slot machines. Here’s a look at what BMM Testlabs thinks could help casinos draw more customers and make larger profits.
More Available Slot Machine Functions
Combination slots games would give customers a variety of other options. These include ordering drinks, listening to music, in-screen texting, total phone integration, and ordering valet service.
Analytics & Artificial Intelligence
The machines would study players’ behavior and try to predict their preferences. Of course, gathering data on customers has become unpopular in recent years due to the Facebook and Google privacy concerns. But the slots version would mostly be about improving the user experience.
Biometric Identification at Machines
Biometric identification, where the slot machine identifies a person, is BMM’s most-controversial proposal. Their paper cites how “77% of airports and 71% of airlines are reviewing digital ID options.”
Skill-Based Gambling Tournaments
Poker and daily fantasy sports have become highly popular due to their heavy skill-based elements. Adding skill-based tournaments to slots terminals could definitely have a positive effect.
Virtual Reality Slots
Virtual reality gaming hasn’t taken off just yet. But integrating VR glasses to slots terminals would offer yet another experience to players.
BMM thinks that the industry could modernize the way bets are accepted. They float ideas like payments via iris scan and thumbprint, which will likely become a greater part of the general monetary system.
Casinos already accept a fair number of payment options. But adding Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies would be nice additions given their increasing popularity.
Voice Controlled Slot Machines
Smartphones, tablets, and PCs all have voice-control options now. It only makes sense to add the same to technologically advanced gambling terminals.
BMM writes the following scenario: “Alexa, open an upper-left betting window on the Lakers game; open an upper-right betting window on arena roulette; open a non-betting window to watch the Celtics; zero-out betting windows and slot sound; log me into the 4pm Zombie Shooter tournament as a single player. […]”
The gambling industry is still doing relatively well. Plus, people have been interested in gambling for millenniums, and this won’t change any time soon.
However, there’s a gap between what casinos currently offer and what millennials enjoy. Casinos are filled with slot machines, which don’t interest most younger people.
Revolutionizing slots to offer more gambling options is one potential way to draw millennials. Adding sports betting, esports gambling, and table games will appeal to a larger crowd.
BMM also features other good ideas, such as being able to order services from slot machines, play in skill-based tourneys, and use voice control.
These options figure to increase entertainment and convenience for gamblers. They could also help casinos stay profitable for decades to come.
But the potential downsides to combination gaming terminals include confusion on how games work, fewer industry jobs, and increased gambling addiction.
One thing I’ve noticed about new gambling technology is that it doesn’t take off as quickly as people expect. This is especially true when considering that problems must be worked out along the way.
Assuming the gambling industry does run with BMM’s suggestions, though, it’s difficult to say when we would see everything integrated.
But one thing’s for sure: many players would embrace being able to do more than just play slots from gaming machines.