Will NJ Online Casinos Ever Offer Skill-Based Slot Games?

Updated on February 3, 2021
skill-based slot games

If you’re an NJ online slot player, you’re spoiled for choice. As if it weren’t already hard enough to choose which of the hundreds of games available to you to try your luck on, now there is talk about adding slot games partly based on skill, too.

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How do skill-based slots differ from the slots you’re accustomed to, and would you play them? Or is the last question moot because there’s less chance that NJ online casinos will offer such games anytime soon than your winning megabucks in the state lottery?

Slots continue to receive far more play, both online and offline, than any other casino game

Out of all the games in the casino, slots are by far the most popular. There are many reasons for this, but one of the main ones is that in traditional slot games, no skill is involved.

Slots are the great equalizer. A first-time player has the same chance of hitting a jackpot as someone who has been playing every day for years.

Also, most slots offer a very wide range of bet sizes. So, it doesn’t matter if you’re a penny player or a high roller. If Lady Luck is on your side, you’ll win, and if it isn’t, you’ll lose. It’s as simple as that–or is it?

Why many slot players win and many players of lower house edge games lose

Despite the enormous popularity of slots among many different types of players, slots often get a bad rap from non-slot players. It’s true that slots generally have a much higher house edge than certain other casino games such as blackjack and video poker. However, many slot players win, and many players of the so-called games of skill lose. Therefore, the differentiation is not as simple and clear-cut as a comparison of the return to player (RTP) suggests.

Let’s take blackjack as an example. For starters, blackjack rules can vary considerably. Some of these rule changes can make the game more favorable to the player, while others favor the house.

In any case, the published RTP presumes that the player knows and uses the correct basic strategy, which is frequently not the case.

Lastly, even though skill is one factor that can affect the results, so is luck. The bottom line is that even though poor play tends to be costly in the long run, on any given day, a highly proficient player might lose and a terrible player might win.

The effect of winning and losing streaks

Prolonged winning or losing streaks can occur in any casino game, including both slots and blackjack. However, I suspect that some players are much more adept than others in spotting these streaks early and capitalizing during a hot streak and slowing down or ending the session very soon after the start of a cold streak. Other players either bet too little during a winning streak or too much during a losing streak, or most likely a combination of the two. The end result is almost inevitably a net loss regardless of the game’s RTP or whether they’re playing slots, blackjack, or any other game.

What are skill-based slots, and how do they differ from traditional slots?skill-based slots nj online casino

Skill-based slot machines look like regular slot machines, and you play them the same way, too, spinning the reels and hoping to line up matching symbols on one or more paylines.

However, skill-based slot games, unlike traditional slots, include bonus rounds that purportedly give skilled players a decided advantage.

One example is Space Invaders by Scientific Games. The game is based on a 1978 arcade slot machine, and it is actually a hybrid of a game of chance and a game of skill. The main game resembles a traditional slot with random results, while the bonus round incorporates skill.

Skill-based slot games are currently very big in Pennsylvania. You won’t find them at any Pennsylvania casinos, either online or offline, just as you won’t find them in Atlantic City and NJ online casinos. However, PA players can play these games legally in places like bars and convenience stores.

Why skilled-based slot games won’t appear at NJ online casinos anytime soon?

Despite their popularity in Pennsylvania, NJ players should not expect skill-based slot machines to make their appearance at NJ online casinos in the foreseeable future, if ever. Here are the reasons why.

Players seem very happy with the existing slot games. Why try to fix something, that is not even broken.

Unlike the Atlantic City casinos, which, months after reopening last July, are still struggling, the NJ online casinos are thriving.

As reported in my Dec. 7, 2020 article for NJ Online Casino, internet gaming revenue for 2020 through October was nearly double the amount reported for the same period in 2019. And, as reported in a Jan. 15, 2021 article for PlayNJ.com, with the revenue for November and December added, the year-to-year increase proved even more striking. The total revenue for the whole year ($970.3 million) was more than double the total revenue for 2019 ($482.7 million), representing a 101.1% increase.

Moreover, according to figures released by the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), NJ internet gaming revenue for December 2020 reached an all-time high of $99.4 million, shattering the previous record of $93.4 million set in October.

Clearly, NJ online casinos are doing extremely well, with no signs of slowing down. Online slot games have always been and continue to be a big contributor to the bottom line.

No one is a better judge of what types of games NJ online casino players want than the biggest and most successful online casino year after year–Golden Nugget. And they’re doing just fine without skill-based slot games.

Golden Nugget, currently home to 761 online slots, continues to be the revenue leader. I have not heard one expressed desire on the part of either the casino’s management or its players to add skill-based slot games to the mix. Yet this casino’s vast collection of slots that don’t involve skill keeps getting bigger and bigger.

Skill-based slot games are currently illegal in NJ online casinos.

Before any NJ online casino can start offering these games, the DGE would have to approve them. Looking at the enormous costs involved and the likelihood that neither the small number of people who would play them for real money nor the amount of revenue generated as a result would cover those costs, why would they?

Casinos offer different games for different folks. This makes sense, so why rock the boat? Don’t try to turn slot machines into something they’re not meant to be.

Slots appeal primarily to players who like games that don’t require any special skills or mental concentration but where they can still win a lot of money. Players who prefer more challenging forms of gambling already have lots of other options like blackjack, poker, and sports betting.

Five popular skill-based games:

Currently, popular social and skilled-based games like the ones below don’t give you the option to legally gamble or play for real money.

  • Ocean King
  • Words With Friends
  • FarmVille
  • Mafia Wars
  • Zuma Blitz

Games similar to skilled-based games like Ocean King

Although there are currently no skilled-based slots being offered at NJ online casinos, Golden Nugget has several games that are very similar to what you may be looking for:

water dragons - ocean king skill game atlantis ocean king 1

Summary and Conclusion

The small minority of players who wish to dabble in skill-based slot games can do so on websites other than NJ online casinos and in arcades and other places where these games are legal.

Furthermore, once they start playing, they will probably discover that in reality, these are hybrid games that also rely on luck, and skill matters less than they think. That’s the way it has to be for those offering these games to make a profit.

Just don’t bet on these games finding their way anytime soon on NJ gambling websites.

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