A quick glance at the growing pains of both the World Series of Poker (WSOP) and the emerging market of skill-based casino games both tell the same story of how difficult the task of growth can be.
The WSOP is already huge, but its attempt to get bigger are stalling. Attendance is down in the live tournaments and, as always, customers are pointing towards issues like cards as a reason why more people are not playing. Meanwhile, skill-based games are theoretically supposed to be very appealing to young gamblers, but they cannot seem to find an audience in the sea of regular casino slot machines.
Things are not all bad for either entity though. The WSOP’s online site WSOP.com is steadily making progress when it comes to player growth. As for skill-based games, the growth is not there yet, but new developments could be the difference maker. New locations for the machines and a new contender with a famous old game could be just the things to ignite growth.
WSOP has online success and offline problems
Online traffic holding strong
Attendance for the WSOP so far has not been great. Almost all of the live events are down from last year. The same cannot be said for the company’s online poker ventures though.
Earlier this summer, the first of three online bracelet events set a record for the biggest regulated online poker prize pool in US history. The $333 buy-in event had a $333,333 guarantee. It more than doubled that, coming in at over $750,000.
Elsewhere on WSOP.com, the traffic is stable compared to last year. In fact, the first week saw an improvement over 2016, thanks to the extra bracelet event. The site’s online poker series is consistently meeting and beating guarantees too. Additionally, online satellites into live events are proving popular once again.
Nonetheless, the site has not cracked more than 200 concurrent players yet. That should happen at the beginning of July though, when the 25 seat Main Event satellite and additional bracelet events online could boost traffic to record levels.
WSOP cards not strong enough
It would not be a WSOP without a controversy. This year, the issue is the Copag cards. After a year of positive reviews in 2016, the official card provider is drawing a ton of complaints. This year’s decks are incredibly easy to mark. As a result, the floor staff are constantly rotating in new decks, players are losing time on the clock, and the integrity of the game is compromised.
Some players, like Matt Glantz, are boycotting events until WSOP replaces the cards. Reports from the floor indicate the high buy-in events are getting better cards. PokerNews reported the WSOP received a new batch of decks and are investigating them carefully.
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Skill-based games getting time in the Nevada spotlight
Station Casinos trying out Gamblit tables
Normally New Jersey is the focal point when it comes to skill-based gambling games. Recently though, while skill-based games are leaving Atlantic City casinos, more Nevada companies are taking a shot on the concept.
Caesars did not have much luck with its Gamblit gaming tables, but that is not deterring Station Casinos from giving them a shot. The casino company recently added tables at Red Rock Casino and Boulder Station. The company plans to introduce machines at Green Valley Casino later.
Unlike Caesars, who put the machines in with the regular slots, Stations is hoping by locating them in bars and restaurants, they can better find the young audience they are intended to attract.
Scientific Games invading the skill-game space
Meanwhile, a company which specializes in standard slot games is trying to give the skill-based market a go. Scientific Games recently launched its first skill-based slot. The game is going full nostalgia, as it is based on the classic video game Space Invaders.
The slot plays like a regular game, however the bonus game is skill-based. The bonus plays not unlike the classic arcade game with a cannon that can fire shots at oncoming alien invaders.
The slot machine is already available in some New Jersey casinos, but those hoping to put their Atari skills to the test in Nevada casinos will need to wait a little longer.