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Could Skill Games Like Pool Ever Work at Casinos?

For many of us of a certain age, we will remember our parents saying that there was no way to make money by being good at video games. In fact, you don’t have to be that old for that mantra to be true. But it is no longer truly a valid statement, as evidenced by the millennials winning million of dollars at the recent Fortnite World Cup. Basically, if you are good enough at playing video games, you can earn a ton of money from it.

However, what if you were simply a better-than-average player, perhaps good enough to beat your friends? And what if we weren’t talking about video games, and instead talking about something like pool or bowling? Well, there is a lot of buzz in the casino industry around the idea of adding skill games, and around 7 in 10 casinos said they are considering adding skill-based games in the future.

Revenue models would change

The question, then, is how would this work? If you go to a real online casino such as casino.com today, you will find a mix of virtual and live games. The former refers to games that run on software, with an algorithm determining the outcome. Live games are played with real dealers, cards, roulette wheels etc., so there is true chance involved in the outcome.

But a skill game is a different matter. Even though, for example, you can gain an advantage in a game like blackjack by playing with an optimum strategy and a good head for math, there is normally still a slight advantage for the casino. If that advantage goes, then the casinos will have to look at other ways to make revenue.

You might be surprised to learn that skill-based casino games have already hit the floors of the casinos of Las Vegas. The idea is that they are more live video games than casino games; something similar to eSports. If the outcome is determined solely by skill, i.e. there is no predetermined result, then the revenue model would have to be on a player vs player basis, and not player vs casino. This is not an alien idea for casinos, who could organise something like the rake in poker games. 

Skill games haven’t yet taken off

It takes time for any new casino game to take off, and the reception to skill-based games in Las Vegas has been lukewarm so far. However, there is scope in this area to do much more than just mimic what is going on in eSports. Casinos have put a huge amount of effort into researching VR and other immersive technology. It is very possible that you could one day soon be putting on a headset and playing on a virtual pool table at an online casino. Revenue could be generated by advertising, or by taking a rake like mentioned above.

If any of this seems far-fetched to you, it shouldn’t. The virtual world is becoming more important to the economic world. Increasingly, jobs are becoming automated and there is a diversification of how people earn, much of that is in the online world. Does that mean we will all be virtual pool hustlers in years to come? No. But a world where you can play your favourite game for money and be rewarded, not by luck, but by skill is not that far away.  


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