A.G. Burnett is a strong believer Nevada needs to be innovative to keep its leading role worldwide as the leader in crafting gaming regulations and introducing new casinos games.
That belief sent Burnett, chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, to Carson City this week to support a bill designed to bring video game technology into the casino to hopefully generate more gambling on slot machines.
Senate Bill 9 will allow more games of skill, as opposed to chance, on the casino floor.
“The bill encourages regulators … to take a look at new modes of gaming, including adding certain elements of skill to our already chance-based games,” Burnett told KNPR’s State of Nevada. He said if approved the bill directs the Nevada Gaming Commission to adopt new regulations to permit the use of this technology.
But, Burnett cautioned that it would take at least six months from the bill’s passage before slot machines that play more like Grand Theft Auto than Blazing Sevens or video pokers start showing up on the casino floor statewide.
These games are meant to attract more young people into the casino. Burnett said the revenue figures show millennials are coming to casinos on the Strip to spend money on glitzy entertainment, nightclubs and restaurants, not on gambling.
In 1989, 59 percent of total revenue on the Strip was from gaming, while 41 percent was generated by non-gaming businesses, including restaurants and retail shops. That figure has completely flipped-flopped, according to the state Gaming Control Board, to non-gaming generating 63 percent of Strip revenue, whereas gaming accounted for 37 percent.
Last year, there were 44,584 slot machines at 43 locations on the Strip. Those slot machines generated a handle of $39.3 billion, a win of $2.9 billion, and an average win per unit per day of $178.90, UNLV's Center for Gaming Research noted in its Nevada Gaming Win 2014 report.
“In addition to that, customers can gamble anywhere in the country,” Burnett said. “The thought here is to bolster the gaming side so new games can come to the floor. To do that the old-style gaming is going to have to make way for some new ideas.”
Burnett told KNPR's State of Nevada it was simply about having more gaming “options for people to play and hopefully they'll be attractive to the younger demographic, which is now visiting in record numbers.”
As for concerns over alienating some gamblers, Burnett didn’t think slot players would be alienated by these new games. He said this wasn't a "cram down on the slot floor" where the old style of game would be replaced by any new-style games that add skill and chance together as a component."
Burnett believed those games "would be able to co-exist on the casino floor."
“Millennials need to have some forms of entertainment on the gambling side that they can look at,” the veteran gaming regulator said. “There is already that interest and the idea would be to allow the gaming companies to attract them.”
A.G. Burnett, chairman, Nevada Gaming Control Board
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