21ST OCT 2016 | WRITTEN BY: CHRIS SIEROTY
Getting new games, whether they are games of skill or chance, on the casino floor in Nevada just got a little easier after the state’s gaming commission on Thursday approved new rules for a streamlined field test process.
The five-member commission approved amendments to Regulation 14 that would create a New Innovation Beta (NIB) process intended to speed up the development of new games by letting manufacturers quickly test their products in casinos.
Currently, gamemakers use field trials to see if their products can stand up to everyday use and to see if gamblers find them understandable and fun to play.
However, games are required to meet all of Nevada’s regulatory standards before field trials can begin.
Then NIB process does away with that requirement.
“This new program shows the [Nevada] Gaming Control Board’s progressive vision for introducing new concepts and technologies and will allow the slot manufacturers to manage their research and development effort to maximize their product offerings and speed to market,” Marcus Prater, executive director of the Association of Gaming Manufacturers (AGEM), told GamblingCompliance.
AGEM, a Las Vegas-based international trade association, worked with Nevada gaming regulators to develop the new regulations.
“Ultimately, the entire industry will benefit as operators and suppliers work together, and players can try new games sooner and vote with their wallets on what the casino floor will look like going forward,” Prater said.
Another change is regarding notifications to gamblers that they are actually testing a new game.
During the regular field trial, gamblers may be told but it is not mandatory, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB). However, regulators say that changes with NIB mean that now gamblers will be told they are testing a game.
A.G. Burnett, as chairman of the NGCB, will make the decision whether or not to allow a manufacturer into the NIB process, according to the 12-page draft of the proposed amendment to NGC Regulation 14.
The new rules also restrict testing of a new gaming device to no more than 180 days. Chairman Burnett can approve an additional 90 days of testing beyond the maximum field test period.
Alongside traditional slots game suppliers, developers of skill-based games are also looking forward to using the new testing rules.
“GameCo will be making our Nevada license application in the next 30 days,” Blaine Graboyes, CEO of GameCo, told GamblingCompliance in an email Thursday.
“We’re thrilled to be bringing our product to Nevada,” Graboyes said. “As the first skill-based video game gambling product approved by any U.S. gaming regulator, we expect to be a leader in the Nevada market too.”
GameCo is deploying its skill-based slot machines on casino floors at three Caesars Entertainment properties in Atlantic City. The machines, called VGMs, are undergoing several weeks of testing.
Graboyes said GameCo’s goal is to launch products as soon as possible in Nevada.
“We plan to leverage the New Innovation Beta program to speed our deployment to casino floors,” Graboyes said.
Fellow skill-based start-up Gamblit Gaming debuted six skill-based gaming positions with room for four players each this month inside of Harrah’s Rincon, a casino that Caesars manages in southern California.
The plan is to then field trial games at Caesars’ Nevada properties shortly afterwards. Caesars anticipates deploying 125 Gamblit games into multiple properties from next year.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better deployment channel,” said Ivan Souffront, director of Compliance & B2C Operations at Gamblit. “This reg change represents Nevada’s commitment to the future of gaming and an opportunity for Gamblit to deliver the content that players are hungry for. We build our products from the ground up and it used to take months before a new product could hit the casino floor. The NIB process will allow us to do what used to take months in weeks or even days.”
Souffront told GamblingCompliance in an email that Gamblit is working on a variety of games and devices right now, and “we plan to wholeheartedly embrace the NIB program.”