Monday, January 27, 2014

Aces Casino Blog: You Think That Marketing a Brand New Game Designed For The Casinos of Las Vegas Is a GOOD IDEA? Think Again, And Bring Your Wallet

Yes, my blog-friends, It's time for another foray into the top faux-classroom dedicated to the lovers of all things casino-related.  Welcome back to another edition of the "Aces Casino College of Casino Game Knowledge."  In today's episode, we deal with a subject that we have heard quite a bit about lately from our clients -- Creating and marketing a new casino game.

When your company is known as "the cutting edge" when it comes to new ideas in casino gaming like the orange county casino party company known as Aces Casino is, you tend to hear the same question time and time again, and for good reason...

"What's the latest hot new game in the casinos this year?"

Hey, we love it when our discerning public craves more in the way of the latest games to hit the casinos in Las Vegas and all points east.  But, unfortunately, that's a question easily answered in a not-so-positive sense.  it IS true, no one offers the ability for their clients to play the newest, hottest game like Aces Casino does.  We do have them all, WAY before anyone else in our industry, but the one big problem we face in this area, year in and year out, is the lack of new casino games coming to the public in any given year.

 When "DodgeBall" comes to the casinos, I'm there.  Here's my $5.

To further illustrate this important point, we turn to the one person that has always had his finger on the pulse of the gaming industry - Michael Shackelford, the man behind such great and informational websites like one of many of his top sites, "Gaming Math."  Here's an excerpt from his latest work, "Marketing Casino Games."


Some of my income is generated doing math analysis for individuals or gaming companies trying to introduce new games to the casinos. Although the gaming companies generally know the risks involved in such a venture, individuals usually do not. The purpose of this article is to inform the inexperienced game inventor of what they are in for.

In my experience, most casino game inventors are extremely optimistic about their chances of success. The perception of those new to the business is that casino management will fall all over themselves trying to get your game into their casino. What is closer to reality is that game inventors fall all over themselves trying to get their games into a casino. Also, the greater the level of confidence of a game inventor, the worse his game generally is.

Trying to introduce a new game, whether machine or table game, to the Nevada casinos is a very expensive venture and the probability of ever showing the first cent in profit is very small. Even good games have a low probability of success, about 1% in my opinion. Of course, every new game inventor thinks that his or own game is in that 1%, which is not realistic. Without knowing anything about it, I can predict that a new game idea is too complicated, too ridiculous, or is already taken.

The first major step in marketing a new casino game, at least in Nevada, is to get a casino to perform a field trial on it. What you are asking a casino to do is take out a profitable game, likely blackjack, and put in something that has never been proven to make a dime. Casino staff will have to be trained to deal the game and it will have to be monitored carefully by supervision. The casino will get to keep all profits the game makes and you will have to pay for all custom-made game equipment and signage. You also must pay $3000 for a permit from the Gaming Control Board, fill out lots of forms, and wait about a year for your application to be reviewed. Few casinos accept field trial games, and those that do get asked all the time. Despite the investment of thousands of dollars, most new games never see the inside of a casino.

Unless you have connections in the business, it takes about $50,000 to market a new game past the trial. This $50,000 will be spent on licenses from the Nevada Gaming Control Board, patent attorneys, table cloth, signage, rule cards, game literature, gaming show and travel expenses, and a math analysis from someone like me. 

No prob on the cloth.  This place is right down the street.

Even if you do get through the trial period phase, chances are your game will be played, but compared to the average game, it will make about the same or less money. A frequent problem with new game is they attract recreational players who tend to bet small amounts. Meanwhile, the traditional games are more likely to attract experienced players who bet more. So the question isn't whether your game will make money, but whether it will make MORE money than whatever game it replaces. I have done math analysis on about 200 games and side bets for individuals trying to get into the U.S. market, and the number of games that have made it past the trial period and can be found at more than five casinos is zero, except games for large gaming companies like Shufflemaster.

For the low-budget game developer, there are other options. Taking the game to a rural jurisdiction outside of Nevada is the most common alternative to Nevada, preferably one with less competition like many Indian casinos, or a state that recently legalized gambling, like Washington State. However the feeling in Nevada is that in other parts of the country players will play anything and success elsewhere is not good evidence a game will make it in Las Vegas.

Even in the best case scenario that your game is a success, the larger gaming companies will parse all their numerous patents in search of anything similar. If they find anything similar, then they may proceed into trying to sue you into submission. Your choice may be to spend millions in legal expenses, or sell your game at a fire-sale price.

In conclusion marketing new casino games is a very, VERY, risky business. I hate to see private individuals invest a large portion of their savings into a new casino game, because I know the probability of them ever recouping that money is very low. This business is better suited for those who are experienced and are well financed. So please, consider yourself warned.


Told ya.... Mr. Shackelford knows this industry like no other.  But, the good news is, here at Aces Casino, the top orange county casino night party crew on the west coast, we can just sit and wait for the newest games in the future of casino gaming comes out.  Then, we buy a layout, pay the license fee, and voila!  Instant party fun!  You can practice on our games all you like.  Find out if you like the game before trying it... It's like a "CarMax" for table games!

Except for two things.  1) No pink slip, and 2) no gambling.  That'll work.  It's the only way that this orange county casino night crew would have it.  That's all for now, friends.  We'll see you on Thursday with more parakeet-paper material.  Have a good week, see ya later!

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