Darryl McEwen

{standaloneHead}Darryl McEwen{/standaloneHead}

Cue the robots. Enter the millennials.

Casinos have a problem: How to attract millennials, those born in the early 1980s and beyond.

After years of engaging in video games, alone or with friends, and hours playing Candy Crush on their smartphones — all for free — what can a casino offer?

In addition, with little disposable income — because they can’t find work and/or are paying off student loans — according to researchers, these millennials and their friends prefer to spend money going to dinner or dancing at popular nightclubs.

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Danger Arena

'Danger Arena' has a monitor and paytables similar to a video slot machine.

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Cut to Bally’s Atlantic City’s Wild Wild West. On a Friday or Saturday night it’s tough to walk across the casino floor. It’s packed with 21- to 30-year-olds. Sure, there are slot machines, video poker and low-limit table games, but there’s also a live band, large dance floor, mechanical bull, beer pong, two bars, a photo booth, reasonably priced barbeque, burgers and tacos, and, oh yeah, $3 beers, $4 shots and other cheap drinks (which are free for active players).

Look around, though. Many of those slot machines sit idle, confirming yet more research: Millennials have little interest in slots. They enjoy doing things in groups and want no part of some random number generator that determines what they win.

So why not engage them in gambling using skills they already possess?

“Danger Arena” is a video gaming machine where skill, using a controller similar to those on many personal gaming systems, determines the payout.

Beginning Wednesday, Nov. 2, Wild Wild West, Caesars Atlantic City and Harrah’s Resort will be the only places in the country where players can win money showing off their quick reaction time, as well as their steady aim, by shooting at marauding robots in 45- to 90-second games.

Scenarios vary randomly, and constitute the element of chance found in traditional slot machines.

Each game also includes a secondary opportunity to instantly win up to $1,000.

Casinos in other parts of the country soon will be testing different types of skill-based games that challenge players to find hidden words or match smoothie flavors in a virtual juice bar. In another, four people stand or sit around a flat screen pressing buttons to see who snags the virtual playing card that’s displayed. The player with the best poker hand wins.

By next year look for more types of skill-based gaming.

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Danger Arena

On the casino floor 'Danger Arena' looks like any other grouping of slot machines, but that’s where the similarities end.

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Elect to play

After you vote on Nov. 8, head to Resorts Casino Hotel and play in a free $5,000 patriotic-themed slot tournament. While you can’t vote twice, you can participate in the tournament two times and get a free gift, as well.

Recreational gambler Darryl D. McEwen, a former professional journalist, is president of his own consulting firm that manages several small national and international trade associations, and provides public relations and fundraising services for a number of charitable organizations. Have a comment on this or a question specifically related to an Atlantic City casino, players club or other promotion? Email Darryl at MrACCasino@gmail.com and he’ll try to respond to you personally. Your question — without your name — may appear in a future column.

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