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Analyst predicts gamblers will enjoy new ways to bet

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An executive for a national consulting company said casinos of the not-too-distant future will offer many more ways for people to place their bets.

In addition to tried-and-true slot machines and tables games, gamblers will be able to test their luck at skill-based machines that allow then to influence the outcome, to gather in lounge-like sports books to track the action of their favorite teams or daily fantasy-sports stars and to bed on who will win in “CS:GO” or other games.

In some states, those who can’t physically travel to a casino will be able to gamble online.

“All of those are going to be components to the gaming floor,” says Daniel Holmes, manager and gaming practice leader for RubinBrown, an accounting and consulting firm with offices in Denver, Kansas City, Nashville and St. Louis.

Will a slot machine still exist in some form or fashion? Yeah, I think so,” he tells Player’s Advantage. “You’re going to see a different mix on the floor. So it’s not just your card games. You’ll have games of skill that involve slot machines, or an e-sports area or a sports book where you watch sports or then you can go to the e-sports book that’s just like a poker room.”

Holmes makes the prediction while discussing Rubin Brown’s seventh annual “Gaming Statistics” report, which analyzes statistical data from more than 1,000 gaming operations in 40 states.

In 2015, gamblers lost more than $71 billion at commercial and tribal casinos, state-sanctioned online gaming and slot machines or video lottery terminals at truck stops, bars and restaurants. The report says it is the highest total yet for the industry win, and the sixth straight year of growth.

“The cool thing about 2015 is that the industry saw same-store sales increase year over year,” Holmes says. “Growth was actually more organic, as opposed to new markets and regional expansion. Looking forward, we would expect much of same to continue.”

Lower fuel prices and expanding job market seems to be reasons for optimism.

“All of that drives up discretionary spending and drives up the industry,” he says.

Pennsylvania casinos posted their third-best month on record, winning $289 million in March. Ohio casinos completed their best quarter in the state’s brief history of legal gambling. Gambling revenue in 20 states, nationwide, with commercial casinos was up by 4.1% for January and February from 2015, according to the Center for Gaming Research at University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Commercial casinos, like those in Pennsylvania and Nevada, account for about 54% of the revenue in the gambling industry. Tribal casinos contribute 41%, with limited-stakes gaming providing 4% and the online gaming market bringing in less than 0.5%.

The most populous state, California, is considering joining Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey in legalizing online gaming. Holmes doubts that will happen soon due to the competing factions there. He says Pennsylvania might be quicker to approve it because it is near two states that already offers it and has been “very aggressive and welcoming” to legalized gambling over the past decade.

Skill-based games are a “must” for the evolution of the industry, Holmes claims. Unlike traditional slot machines, which by law pay off solely on lick, skill-based games offer the opportunity for a player to influence the outcome by, for example, doing well at an arcade-style game Nevada and New Jersey have measures in place to allow skill-based games. A similar proposal is before the Pennsylvania Legislature.

“I look at skill-based games as no different from table games,” Holmes says, noting that a blackjack player who follows basic strategy can reduce the house edge to almost a break-even point. “The question becomes: How do you create technology, or the programming behind it, so it is fair and it still fits in the parameters of what we know as gaming?” In many areas, casinos are reconfiguring themselves to be more than “your typical row of slots, row of tables and then a buffet at the back.”

“Gaming is going through a shift,” Holmes says. “It’s exciting to see where the industry will take us.”

Top U.S. gammbling cities:

According to Rubin Brown, an accounting and consulting firm, these are the top-ranked U.S. metro areas for gambling revenue in 2015:

  1. Las Vegas Strip: $6.35 billion
  2. Atlantic City: $2.41 billion
  3. Chicago: $1.97 billion
  4. New York City: $1.39 billion
  5. Detroit: $1.38 billion
  6. Philadelphia: $1.19 billion
  7. St. Louis: $1.01 billion
  8. Baltimore: $996 million
  9. Bethlehem/Scranton: $966 million
  10. Biloxi, Miss.: $857 million
  11. Pittsburgh (includes Rivers and Meadows casinos): $600 million