Skill based gambling, coming soon to online casinos?

In recent weeks, the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas has expanded the appropriately named ´Level Up´ lounge, an area of the casino marketed towards younger gamblers.  The Level Up area does more than just cater to different tastes of younger voters like a craft beer bar, but also is where the MGM Grand has chosen to host it´s first skill-based real-money games.   There are currently only two games available, but they can be played in different ways, either teams against teams,  teams against the house, player against player or player against house.   Team-based games, be either fully cooperative or competitive have become a staple part of video games the last decade with games like Call of Duty and League of Legends being some of the highest earning games of all time.  Add to this the e-sport phenomenon with games such as StarCraft filling arenas with young people paying to watch skilled players compete against each other and it is easy to see why major casinos who offer mainly lifeless slot and video poker machines just are not exciting or attractive to millennials.

No matter how many bells and whistles get added to a slot machine, most younger people are quickly going to recognize a few things.   First is that there is nothing they can do to improve their odds of winning, and second is that especially for games like slot machines, the house has a huge advantage.  Skill-based games are designed to obscure those two facts by rewarding skillful play and experience while also pooling the house advantage by having direct competition.  In order for skill-based games to be allowed in casinos in Las Vegas,  current gambling laws had to be changed mainly to allow players with skill to have a mathematical probability of beating the house.  Believe it or not, before the change in laws last year, casinos were not allowed to offer games if over a long period of time, and single player had any chance of beating the house.  The laws were written to ensure casinos could not give away their house advantage.  The new law basically allows a skilled player to have a house advantage over the long term, but only if they are directly competing against a player who would have a loss to the house.  So the way this works for the new skill based games is that if a team of skilled players plays against a team of less-skilled players, the less-skilled players will lose money to the skilled players and money to the house.   But if the highly-skilled players plays directly against the house, then the old rule would kick in similar to Blackjack where highly skilled players can almost, but not totally eliminate the house advantage ( given a huge sample size of games played).

Some online games have skirted around the issue of gambling on skill-based games, but the fear of hacking, especially with very complicated games makes normal games unlikely to become big avenues of gambling.  With the change in laws in Nevada, it is very likely that games like those found in Level Up Lounge in the MGM Grand will very soon make their way to online casinos.