American electronic gaming company GameCo Inc. will apply for an MSAR gaming license and product licensing in the coming months, the company’s CEO, Blaine Graboyes, told Business Daily.
“We’ve been visiting Macau since 2016 and meeting with local operators, as well as with regulators at DICJ [the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau]. We currently have two games on test beds with local operators. We’ve been updating our platform to meet the Macau 1.1 gaming standards, and working with our compliance team to prepare our licensing application,” Mr. Graboyes told Business Daily.
The GameCo’s CEO announced to website Esports Insider last week that his company was looking to enter the Macau market, possibly bringing its skill-based Video Game Gambling Machines (VGM).
“We will announce our local partners as we advance the licensing and compliance process. We’ve also filed for expanding our issued patents in China and worldwide,” he said to Business Daily.
Mr. Graboyes also added that his company plans to use Macau as a base of operations to reach other Asian markets and Australia.
“Demand in Macau and Asia has been tremendous for our product, well in excess of our expectations and plans, and we’re working hard to fast track development for the market […] we’re in discussions with operators and regulators throughout Asia,” he added.
For Mr. Graboyes, working with local partners is “critical” in Macau and Asia, something he says GameCo has done in many jurisdictions in North America, particularly with Tribal casinos (casinos operated in Native-American Indian reservations).
“These partnerships allow GameCo to leverage our distributors’ existing relationships and knowledge of local markets, while allowing GameCo to focus on developing,” he added.
Creating gaming history
According to Mr. Graboyes, GameCo was founded in 2014 around the concept of video game gambling, using the experience he gathered by producing video games for eSports flag companies such as Blizzard Entertainment, Ubisoft, and Wargaming.
“We were bringing eSports events to casinos and I was able to connect with senior casino executives who explained some of the challenges they were experiencing with the ageing player base for slot machines. After investigating the industry and opportunity, we dedicated ourselves to developing the vision and product for GameCo,” he stated.
Prior to working in the gaming industry, Mr. Graboyes co-founded the first DVD production company in New York City.
After selling the business in 2001, he worked as a digital producer for a talent agency in Los Angeles, shifting afterwards to producing games for entertainment companies such as DreamWorks, Sony and Warner Bros.
“I’m fortunate to have contributed to games on nearly every platform and format, from console and PC to social and mobile to board games […] I have a passion for new technology and innovation and enjoy being ‘first’ in an industry,” he told Business Daily.
This knack for innovation led GameCo to create the first skill-based gaming slot machine, the first to be approved by U.S. gaming regulators, with the machines introduced in casinos in Atlantic City in November of last year.
According to Mr. Graboyes, the company’s core product offers arcade-style cabinets that balance player skill with patented game design, while maintaining the same return to players as traditional slot machines.
GameCo also produces video game gambling offerings using sport and action elements, or including popular entertainment brands such as Star Trek into gaming offerings in casinos.
Recently, the company announced its first partnership with Japanese video game publisher, Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc., to bring one of their games, Soulcalibur II, to casinos in the near future.
“This will be the first time gamers can play the same game at the casino that they love on their console at home. Everything we do at GameCo is about uniting our passion for video games with the excitement of the casino,” he added.
The company has currently deployed the machines throughout the state of Connecticut in the U.S., as well as in the Caribbean, with launches planned in August for properties in the states of Florida, North Carolina, Oklahoma and California, as well as on cruise ships, Mr. Graboyes informed Business Daily.
“We use the term ‘video game gambling’ to differentiate from the previous skill games in casinos, particularly electronic poker and blackjack. These technologies have laid the groundwork for GameCo to be the first to launch the newest generation of casino games,” he said.
The GameCo CEO also stated there’s been a strong and growing demand for innovative new products at casinos, with the company’s top games generating “solid” win per day (WPD), with US$650 in WPD having been generated on the company’s “best day”.
“This shows that skill-based games can generate meaningful profits for casinos, with much of this being incremental revenue from new players or additional spend due to new product offerings. That’s a great response and very powerful as a marketing channel to bring new players to the casino,” he added.
According to Mr. Graboyes, GameCo’s products are approved by Gaming Laboratories International (GLI) under the GLI-11 standard, the same standard governing most slot machines along with electronic poker and blackjack.
With skill-based gaming yet to be legislated in the MSAR, the GameCo CEO says the company will collaborate with regulators to bring new innovative products to the city.
The skill-based future
Mr. Graboyes believes the future of gaming will be composed of a diverse mix of traditional and innovative products that appeal to the widest possible range of gamers.
“There is definitely a younger demographic that is not engaged with slot machines or even table games. For these tech-savvy gamers, we believe that skill-based games and video game gambling will provide an experience that attracts the next generation to the casino,” he told Business Daily.
However, Graboyes considers that traditional products such as slots and table games won’t disappear, but be complemented by the new offerings.
Betting in eSports competitions will also be an important component of future casinos, from casual competitions, to professional tournaments, with eSports book betting being able to “greatly leverage the massive popularity of video games” in the casinos of the future, he points out.