Hundreds of vendors, from behemoths in the gaming industry to smaller startups, filled the San Diego Convention Center for the National Indian Gaming Association Tradeshow, April 1-2 to win over one of the largest groups in the U.S. gaming market: tribal gaming.
Unlike most established and traditional gaming companies at the tradeshow, Gamblit Gaming’s goal was not to increase its market share per se, but to get a single “early-adopter” or their first customer on board.
“There’s been a lot of innovation in those slot machine cabinets,” Gamblit Gaming CEO Eric Meyerhofer said, referring to the countless rows of slot machines on the trade show floor. “They are exciting to look at, but as far as the kiosk goes, the product is fundamentally the same.” His company takes the existing skill game genre, games like Angry Birds, most generic forms of Scrabble, and whatever is or will be popular on people’s tablets or mobile devices, and inserts the ability to wager real or virtual currency inside them. “We are a hybrid of games and gaming,” Meyerhofer said.
Meyerhofer came up with this idea in 2009 while walking the floor of a gaming convention in Las Vegas. At the time, he was the CEO of a company more centered on gaming hardware, but he saw an opportunity to “bridge a gap between games and gaming.”
Meyerhofer explained that they want to appeal to two markets. “The market that grew up with typewriters, I’m in that category, and to them, the slot machines are interesting, and it’s doing well for them. [But] they wouldn’t like our games.” The other market of gamers are in the 18-35 age group. For Meyerhofer, appealing to the baby-boomer generation at the tradeshow was a tough sell, but some attendees were impressed.
Jerome Crank, Diné, a member of the compliance department at the Twin Arrows Casino Resort in Flagstaff, Ariz. told ICTMN, “I don’t gamble whatsoever, but that was really good.” Crank was referring to Gamblit’s version of Scrabble. He liked the game because it offered the opportunity to learn something new. He thought, perhaps, the game could help tribal elders with their English. But he didn’t stay at the booth too long, and quickly made his way across the aisle to a vendor giving away generous slices of meat.
Marcus Yoder, however, a vice-president at Gamblit, remained optimistic about holding “the typewriter generation’s’” interest in their products.
Yoder said approximately 178 million Americans are Millennials and Generation X, and of them, only seven percent play slots, a statistic that worries the tribal gaming industry. “I believe in the sovereign rights of the tribes, and I have a lot of respect on how they’ve been able to build themselves up through gambling,” Yoder said. “Forty percent of the revenue from the industry comes from them as the single largest market, and that’s why we are here.”