GameCo targets the video game enthusiast with skill games
For Blaine Graboyes, it was a lightbulb moment.
The entrepreneur and digital game designer was staging a series of eSports events at casino conference centers.
Back to the Future The phenomenon, of course, was not unnoticed by casino executives.
“They explained to me about the challenges with an aging player demographic and declines in slot revenue,”
says Graboyes, whose resume includes entertainment projects for DreamWorks, Mattel, Disney, Nickelodeon,
The Guggenheim Museum and Yoko Ono.
“The big moment for me was learning that 75 percent to 80 percent of gaming revenue comes from slot machines, from a traditional gambler that’s not going to be refreshed.”
Back to the Future Graboyes had an idea. “Startups are an idea looking for a problem.
I immediately felt I had a solution for a massive existing problem that casinos needed to solve.”
He founded GameCo, creator of the first video game gambling product to be approved by regulators in the United States.
The company’s VGM gambling platform allows player skill to determine wins and payouts, while maintaining the same economics as slot machines.
In short, the New York-based company brings next-gen video-game slots to next-gen players.
The suite of games on the GameCo platform may be part of a solution casinos have been waiting for—a way to attract, entertain and engage younger players and turn them into loyal, frequent customers.
“There’s a tidal wave of gamers coming onto the scene,” says Graboyes, but so far, casinos have struggled to entice them—in part because they haven’t fully understood or appreciated the new audience.
One obstacle has been the widespread misperception of gamers as young do-nothings living in their parents’ basements—the consumer equivalent of Beavis and Butthead.
“Gamers are massively underserved as a demographic, and a lot of that has to do with stereotypes,” says Graboyes.
He says the average gamer is someone a lot like him: educated, employed, technically astute, with a better-than-average income and a median age of 35.
“I played video games in my own parents’ basement,” says Graboyes, now 44,
“but I still play today. I want a place to play with a level of ameni ties and hospitality that’s really only found at the casino. Wouldn’t it be cool to go a place that treated me like a VIP?”
In VGMs, he says, casinos have an opportunity to leverage their expertise in hospitality for a whole new demographic, without forfeiting the existing player base.
“Look at what Seth Schorr is doing at the Downtown Grand, bringing eSports into the casino,” says Graboyes.
“It didn’t displace traditional slot players, but opened his casino to a new demographic that didn’t have a place to get together otherwise.
The pre-existing gamer stereotypes are one of the main things that have slowed down early adoption, but that’s changing now.”
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