Games like those from Game Co would not have to have minimum payouts under draft regulations

NJ Tries To Make Atlantic City Casinos Even More Friendly For Skill-Based Games

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Skill-based games have found a home in Atlantic City, as several GameCo titles have been introduced at Borgata and Tropicana.

Regulators are now trying to make AC casinos an even more welcoming place for skill-based games. They are doing this by easing restrictions on a particular subset of these products.

Since the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement first released its temporary regulations governing skill-based games, it has lumped games with a skill element in with games that hinge entirely on skill. In doing so, all skill-based games have been required to meet the minimum return-to-player (RTP) requirements in place on all New Jersey slot machines: 83 percent.

That may be about to change. A new amendment to the current regulations is being circulated by the DGE.

Some skill vs. all skill

The intriguing aspect of the draft regulations is its clarification of the rules for games based entirely on skill. They apply to both online and physical games.

If the new regulations are adopted, these games won’t have to offer a minimum return to the player.

The draft of the regulations reads:

“Skill based games mean any Division approved casino or online game where the theoretical return to player (RTP) cannot be determined by a precise mathematical model based on chance, but is instead determined by player’s physical dexterity and/or mental ability. Such games are not required to achieve a minimum theoretical RTP. Skill based games are distinct from slot machine games that are expected to achieve a theoretical RTP of 83%.”

Compare that language to the current regulations:

  1. Slot machine games with a skill based component shall be required to theoretically pay out a mathematically demonstrable percentage of all amounts wagered, which shall not be less than 83 percent for each wager available for play on the device; and

  2. Games which rely entirely on skill or do not utilize an RNG are not required to achieve a minimum theoretical hold percentage.

What players will see

These games will also have to disclose this information to potential players:

“Skill based games approved pursuant to this section shall be clearly identified through the use of a Division approved logo that inform the patron that the game is a skill based game, is not a slot machine, and does not offer a minimum RTP.”

The regulations also require the logo to be continually visible either on the game cabinet or within the gameplay.

The regulations state the information disclosed to the player include the following language:

“This game is a skill based game and the outcome and payouts for this game are directly determined by your level of skill. For more information regarding how this game operates and how payouts are determined, please review the help screens.”

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One example of a pure-skill game

The regulations would cover titles like GameCo’s Nothin’ But Net.

Nothin’ But Net is a basketball game that requires players to stop a moving slider (similar to the popular bar and arcade game Golden Tee) at certain moments in order to sink shots. The game is 100 percent skill-based. It can return over 100 percent to the player, depending on how the game is configured.

Some GameCo skill-based games that have random elements throughout. (One is Danger Arena, a first-person action game where some maps have more robots than others.) But the only random element in Nothin’ But Net occurs before the game when players discover how much they can potentially win. Once the game starts, it’s in the hands of the player.

The regulations, if adopted, would allow these games to payback zero percent to the player. Developers would not have to add some form of bonus that brings the RTP over 83 percent for all players.

- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.
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