Last month I wrote a very well-received piece about the changing face of gambling as technology advances. More interesting, perhaps, is the sociological observation made, which discussed how trendy casinos were angling their attractions away from automated games, such as slot machines, and more towards low-tech table games.
According to research, young people are not attracted to traditional slots, with an older generation making up the majority of their declining use. Over the past two years, the three largest casinos in Maryland removed more than 1,000 slot machines to make room for more table games and other trendy forms of entertainment.
This trend is not isolated to traditional brick and mortar casinos but appears to be only relevant to a small niche. Even in online gambling and poker rooms, crypto-currencies and ultra-modern aesthetics appear to be the way forward.
It has long been reported, that in US institutions, such as the Las Vegas hotspots, casinos are finding that fewer and fewer cool millennials are interested in slots and other forms of automated gaming. This is a crying shame given both the colourful history of the slot machine and its stalwart position in almost every casino in the world. It is, perhaps concurrently, a good sign for table games, such as blackjack, roulette and craps.
The first slot machine of its kind, made more than 125 years ago in 1891, featured playing cards instead of reels and players were tasked with lining up poker hands on the screen. In those days, these original slot machines lined bars and were unable to pay out, so winnings had to be collected behind the bar.
Interestingly, even in 1891, the house realised the necessity for an edge. In these particular machines, two cards were removed - the ten of spades and the jack of hearts - which halved the chance of the player achieving a royal flush. This, seemingly small change, has continued to modern day slot machines, where slot hold percentages (or the average amount of return on investment) stagger between 82%-98%.
There is a trail of thought that suggests these ever-increasing rates are scaring the young, trendy and mathematically-sound crowd. A Vegas report from the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers showed that these hold percentages have reached an "all-time high" and the form of gaming will surely decline as the rate of winning does too.
Elsewhere, however, sports betting has exploded as mobile technology moves forward. This is a perfect example of an industry understanding its market who also happen to be young. However, as manufacturers of modern-day slot machines desperately try to angle their products to an ever-young audience, they fail to protect the, albeit old, consumers they already have.
It is a depressing thought that one of the most iconic and staple forms of gaming could soon cease to exist in our favourite brick and mortar casinos. However, in a world where young people consider live action to offer a more authentic gambling experience, it might not be long until we have to say goodbye to a historic casino stalwart.