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Inside the Story: Bringing skill-based gaming to Nevada

Casino executives hope skill-based gaming, which was recently cleared by lawmakers and state officials, can attract younger people (Nathan O'Neal | KSNV)

Walk into any casino, stroll by the slot machines, and you'll notice the people who push the buttons and pull the levers are from an older generation.

Simply put, people in their 20s and 30s don't play slot machines.

“It's one of the biggest issues the casinos have been facing, which is an age crisis. Only 2 percent of 21-35 year-olds play the slots,” says Gamblit Gaming’s Darion Lowenstein.

The gaming industry has taken notice and is embarking on a bold move to get the attention of Millennials. It’s called skill-based gaming. New games that combine skill with a little bit of luck.

“I think we realized it's something that needed to occur for gaming to push forward in Nevada,” says Gaming Control Board Chairman AG Burnett.

Burnett was a big player in getting skill-based gaming approved in the 2015 legislative session. Since then, it's been a complex and coordinated effort to get a fair formula up and rolling.

“We finished the regulations and the standards. All the science and math is there, now it's up to the manufacturers to start putting out these games,” Burnett says.

Gamblit Gaming is one of the companies on the forefront of creating new games for the younger generation. They've got games in California and Las Vegas, and the only skill-based gaming machine in northern Nevada at Harrah's in South Lake.

“We're basically taking the fun of video games that people play every day and putting it on a casino floor where you can play games on your own or against friends and win money,” says Lowenstein.

He claims their customers are about 20 years younger than the average slot player -- the key demographic that has been a no-show in front of traditional slot machines.

Only time will tell if skill-based machines will bring them back. But for now, manufacturers and the state gaming industry are willing to take a gamble on it.

Burnett explains, “Our task, a three-party task, the legislature, gaming control board and the industry, was to determine how we can fix that. And this is the attempt.”

We've been told machines are coming to Reno; we just don't know when or where.

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