The Millennial Problem: How Will Casinos Tackle It?

May 17, 2016

The Millennium is 16 years old - where are the millennials in gambling? Segment characteristics and engagement techniques are discussed in this Millennials update.

Millennial gambling is down and declining, and casinos are trying to figure out what to do.

The Issue for Casinos

The problem at hand is ending the decline of gambling participation of millennials in the last two years.  Millennials are still patronizing casinos or casino holdings, but for for the lifestyle: the nightlife, shopping, and entertainment.  When they want to gamble, they do it from their own homes.  In short, millennials are not coming to Vegas to gamble, they are coming to party.

The Engagement Challenge

That being said, the world's largest emerging generation has a new vision of gambling which is by and large elusive to the casino industry. 

It starts with the fact that millennials have been raised on technology and social media.  Mobile devices have transformed the preferences of this first generation of full time mobile users in areas such as convenience, attention span, and expectations of gratification.

Millennial Characteristics

Evolve Lab CEO Adam Selke, whose company makes “platforms and products that help gamers connect, coordinate, and play the video games they love with their friends online,” lists top millennial values as Instant Gratification and Recognition; Balance and Flexibility; Collaboration; Transparency; and Advancement.

Specific predilections germane to millennials include, understandably, videogames over slot machines.  Videogames can be played on a touch screen, where the lever-pulling and spin-watching of the traditional slot experience was popularized as a land-based experience.

Already Gamified

While reaching millennials is a challenge, the gamification of millennials is not.  Millennials gamify everything they do, from dating to finances, primarily via their mobile devices. It falls to the casinos to adapt the vehicle of technology to engage those short attention spans of millennials in the right way.     

The Fantasy Sports Conundrum

Millennials also prefer fantasy sports leagues, which technically are not considered gambling at this point. Millennials also are savvy, with their speedy intellects fueled by rapid information retrieval online via their mobiles. Any chance to put those skills to the test is a plus for them.  Alas, casino reach in this category is limited because as non-games fantasy sports are not the exclusive domain of casinos.

Skill-based Appeal

Millennials also like control in games, such as those based on skill.  So what we are now seeing is the integration of land-based games of chance such as slots into more integrated skill-based forms.  Not coincidentally, the state of Nevada has just specifically approved skill-based gaming.

Sample Integration Approach 

Innovators such as G2 are working on machines where part of the wager is based on skill and part of the wager is based on luck.  To this end, G2 has rolled out a new skill and chance-based slot game where players sit in comfortable console chairs while shooting at targets on a big screen. 

Initial Model

Players can hit those targets to win and/or win while a slot algorithm simultaneously determines if they've won or lost the chance component.  In other words, you shoot at something, and in shooting, you also set off a slot type of spin...hmmm.

The land-based model of this machine is currently up for sale to Nevada casinos for $20,000: not a bad investment, if it works.   


Casinos are also integrating through strategic acquisition of video game companies such as slot machine kingpin Bally Technologies $100 million purchase of online game developer Dragonplay.


There are no quick or easy answers to the millennial question, and that is why the industry is organizing think-tank style events such as GiGSE 2016 and other high powered iGaming conferences devoted solely or in large part to the millennial question. 

Collaborative Promotion

Working with millennials on a collaborative basis, including through trial groups, free samples, and free play packages, are all promotional ideas which can be developed more to befriending this generation in the collaborative effort it will take to engage them. 


Keeping millennials engaged will likely require ongoing variation in games, further integration of skill and increasing sophistication in order to satisfy and fulfill the needs of this generation on the go.  For casinos, marketing to this generation is a work in progress, and the process has just begun.