Thursday, September 17 the Nevada Gaming Commission in Las Vegas approved changes in the regulations allowing the introduction of skill elements into the normally 100% random slot machines found in Las Vegas and elsewhere in the state. The commission needed to change regulations based on a bill signed into law this spring by Governor Sandoval. Senate Bill 9 directed the regulators to adopt rules relating to “skill-based slots”.

The hope is to lure a new generation into the casinos, a generation known as “Millenials” who so far, have not shown as much interest as their predecessors in traditional gaming machines. Gaming Commission Chairman Tony Alamo Jr. was all for the new concept. The bill was written by Dan R. Reaser, a Reno, Nevada Lawyer who told local media, “The younger group of folks under 40 and above 21 are not to oftly engaged in slot machines that are on the floor today and this will be more like what they do at home on their Xbox.”

The Las Vegas Convention Authority has found that although people in that age group are going to casinos and spending money on dinners, shows, nightclubs, and the like, they simply aren’t gambling much. This innovation is expected to change that.

All slots must still pay a minimum of 75% RTP or return to player percentage, but the new machines can have several settings above and below a higher “base line”. If the average RTP is 87%, for example, a skilled player might get a return of 95% or more, while someone simply spinning the reels and fumbling through a bonus round might make less than the baseline.

Online players have had options with variable RTP, skill-based bonus rounds for several years with Rival’s i-Slots leading the way, followed more recently by Max Damage from Microgaming Systems.

Ladbrokes has recently released an infographic showing the evolution of the slot machine from it’s launch between 1887 and 1895 by Bavarian immigrant Charles Fey of San Francisco, California. Fey made improvements on automation to a previous concept based on poker. Fey’s “one-armed-bandit” had three spinning reels with each holding five symbols – horseshoes, diamonds, spades, hearts, and a Liberty Bell.

In reviewing slot machines with Ladbrokes‘ infographic it is easy to see the moments of sea change, from the original, to the electro-mechanical “Money Honey” released by Bally in 1963, to the Fortune Coin video slot in 1975 and beyond.

The new skill based slots could begin to appear on Nevada casino floors as early as a few months from now, but don’t expect casinos to pull the plug on your favorite Cleopatra or Michael Jackson machine any time soon. Bally’s “Pong” slot never caught on when it was introduced in 2007, and the casinos will take a little while to get used to the variable revenue streams the machines are likely to produce. But the games are coming, that much is sure.

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