Casino Lobby Claims US Residents Concerned About Skill Gaming
The leading casino lobby group in the United States says Americans have become increasingly concerned about unregulated skill gaming machines. The devices have proliferated in restaurants, bars, convenience stores, and grocery centers over the past decade.
The American Gaming Association (AGA) says a study it recently commissioned to learn about U.S. attitudes toward the controversial slot-like machines found that nearly two-thirds (65%) of U.S. residents who are familiar with the games believe they are no different than Las Vegas-style slot machines found inside regulated commercial and tribal casinos.
Unregulated machine manufacturers have built their businesses by duping consumers and small businesses while avoiding taxes, oversight, and consumer protections,” said AGA President and CEO Bill Miller. “These results are further evidence that Americans see these machines as a threat that should be eliminated, not regulated.”
Skill games look and sound much like a slot machine, but incorporate claimed “skill” components that typically require the player to identify a winning payline. With a casino slot, the machine automatically credits a winning spin.
Skill machines also differ in that they’re not currently regulated in most states where they’re found. They aren’t required to assure players a minimum payout rate, don’t generate any state or local tax revenue, and have no consumer protections, such as assuring underage people don’t access the games.
The AGA says it contracted Kantar, a London-based data intelligence firm, to survey U.S. adults online to learn about their opinions on skill gaming. Kantar says it polled 2,002 U.S. voters aged 21 and older, and its conclusions have a margin of error of two percentage points.
Kantar concluded seven in 10 U.S. adults believe skill gaming machines lack adequate player protections. Along with ensuring underage people can’t access the gaming machines, skill gaming opponents say the terminals allow problem gamblers who have self-excluded themselves from casinos to still have gambling access.
Kantar also found that 56% of respondents said skill games increase the risk of crime and endanger employees and customers of businesses where the devices are located.
The AGA estimates there are nearly 600K unregulated gaming machines across the U.S. and that Americans wagered $109 billion on those terminals last year.
“Keeping America’s gaming industry strong, safe, and responsible can only be done through the robust infrastructure of the well-established legal market,” Miller added.
The AGA certainly has reason to oppose skill games. The casino lobby claims the machines hurt regulated casino revenue by $27 billion last year, and argues that resulted in $8.7 billion in reduced taxes.
Skill gaming proponents contend the machines have provided critical revenue during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Revenue from the machines is typically split between the game manufacturer, route distributor, and host business.
Many small businesses say the skill gaming revenue saved their establishments during the coronavirus, and the ongoing revenue allows them to increase wages and hire additional workers.
“The games have made guests stay longer. I sell a couple more drinks,” said Burke Steeley, who owns the Boulder Bar & Grill in Wyoming. “Anybody who’s been running a bar in a remote area in Wyoming knows that you have to maximize every bit of revenue you can find.”
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