There’s a degree of healthy skepticism surrounding the nebulous term “skill-based gaming”, a catch-all term describing the very different activities of a handful of operators and service providers. Skill-based gaming can be relevant to the eGaming market but only with the right games, tournaments and wagering opportunities.

      Converting the gambler to skill gaming requires the basic recognition that the average sports bettor, casino & poker pelyer is very different to the “traditional” skill gamer. The skill gaming demographic has historically been dominated by middle-aged women over the age of 35 years and is most akin to the bingo demographic. However it6 is possible to attract, convert and retain a male-dominated group of players from dozens of sportsbook, casino & poker cites. How?

  1. Single-wallet Service. Embedding a suite of skill-based games alongside sportsbook, casino or poker offerings makes sense only if provided to customers on a one-account basis. Seamless wagering between sports, casino & poker is now accepted as the norm for all major iGaming operators. Why would you treat skill gaming any different?  With a single-wallet solution operators can expect conversion rates from a sportsbook to a suitably tailored skill games suite as high as 8% in a single month; and conversion rates from login to cash play typically over 45%.
  2. Serious money. Uniquely, the Game Account skill gaming – service caters to the fundamentally different needs of an online gambler as well as the casual online gamer. We offer the gambler high-staking opportunities on recognizable skill-based games like backgammon, gin rummy or our skill-based version of multi-hand blacjac. Gamblers are too time-poor to spend all day in pursuit of $2 prizes. They seek out high-staking opportunities on games where they can earn material sums within single sessions lasting no longer than an hour. Play in heads-up tournaments to double your $1,000 entry fee,  instantly; or participate in sit $ go games of Gin Rummy and Backgammon for upto $ 700 a game; or compete in knockout tournaments featuring Prize money of upto $170.00. Serious money is invaluable in converting the gambler to skill gaming.

Gamblers are too time-poor to spend all day in pursuit of $2.00 prizes

  1. Reasonable Rake. Furthermore, gamblers are notoriously price sensitive. For example, poker players have become all-too aware of the 2-3% rake  paid to the house. Casino players are also keenly aware of the House’s edge in table games such as Blackjack. In comparison, the traditional skill gamer is willing to pay 25% rake on average entry fees of $1.00 or less. Ask a poker player if he would be willing to pay 25% of his winnings to the house and you’ll generate an expletive –packed response. Rake structures of 25% or more will be the most immediate and obvious disincentive to gamblers presented with a skill-gaming opportunity. Games like Gin Rummy typically rake the 2-player pot no more than 5% with average stakes per player approaching $ 50.
  2. Perceived Skill. Gamblers are a breed apart from the casual gamer. What they perceive to be skill-based may not align with lawyers or regulators. Is poker a game of skill?  Ask poker players and the common answer will be an exclamatory “Yes ”. Yet Poker contains enough chance to classify it as gambling in all jurisdictions. Games of skill should not be limited to simplistic forms of bejeweled and solitaire which attract small entry fees from an incompatible demographic. Games of skill can be any game perceived by the target player and the relevant jurisdiction to be skill-based. For example, backgammon is deemed a game of skill in many us states, but almost perversely not in the United Kingdom where is it specifically legislated for as a game of equal chance.
  3. Transparency. Most gamblers cite a belief that their particular stratgy or technique generates profit over time. They feel they have an “edge” over the bookie or the house that justifies their gambling activity. Statisticts and ratings provided to allow the gambler to make his own mind up about which game to play, who to play against and how much to wager in any given scenario. Transparency is critical in fostering the belief among gamblers that they too can (with practice) earn a material amount of money from opposing players.


Converting gamblers to skill-based gaming requires a particular understanding of why people gamble, what kind of opportunity will excite the gambler and which games to present to each particular audience of gamblers.

About Game Account

The world’s largest supplier of single-wallet p2p skill gaming services to sportsbook, casino & poker operators. Based in the United Kingdom with offices in Australia Game Account provides the single-wallet service to dozens of sportsbook, casino & poker operators targeting major gambling markets including North America, United Kingdom & Ireland, Australia, continental Europe, Turkey, Greece & Israel. Established in 2001 the integrated network contained players resident in 130 countries worldwide. The Game Accounts service is available in English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Greek & Turkish languages together with over a dozen currencies.

Delivering the Next Generation of Skill Games

When peering into the future of skill gaming two key issues surface, the player’s gaming experience and their sense of belonging to a community.

In September 2005 the world’s first conference dedicated to skill gaming took place in Las Vegas. For an industry that is about six years old, it was a significant milestone. There were 70 people in attendance to discuss ‘one of the hottest iGaming topics of the moment ’ and issues covered included: forming starategic partnerships and conversion strateiges. Delivering next generation skill games was not on the formal agenda, but was the subject of some social debate and is a key   focus for the team behind GamArena.

      It is a great time to be discussing next generation games with the Xbox 360 console having launched in late 2005 and Sony’s PlayStation 3 due in mid-2006. these machines represent a significant step change for the billion dollar console games industry. The increase in horsepower of the Xbox 360 on the original console is staggering – in RAM, processing speed and graphics the new console is a massive step forward and certainly worthy of the next generation tag. When you factor in the reinvigorated Xbox Live online multiplayer action, the casual gaming options via the Xbox Live Arcade and Microsoft’s marketplace Points system, it is clear that gamers world are being heightened.

      For skill games, the step change taking place in the cosle world is influential. Whilst it is true that hardcore (console) gamers have historically stayed away from the casual/skill games market, the boundaries between the two are shifting via propositions such as Xbox Live Arcade. Quick, fun and easy access games are being put in front of console gamers as well as the substantial market of today’s non-gamers. Further, the expectations of all players of game quality and game play are being increased as new and improved hardware and software comes to market. In skill games, at GamArena, we see next generation expectations being translated in two broad areas; in experience, and in community :

      Players expect a bigger and better game experience in the next generation of skill games. They expect 3D graphics, ‘as real’ game physics and they increasingly reference games from publishers such as EA (Electronic Arts), Eidos and Activision when forming opinions. We are already seeing staple skill game favorites such as Zima and Bejeweled being taken to the next level with enhanced graphics, clever back drops and stories.

      Players expect a greater depth of community within next generation skill games. They know that they can ‘meet, great and compete’ with like minded individuals online, but they expect to be able to host their own tournaments and to be able to play real-time peer-to-peer (P2P) games. A lot of the payoff here for players and operators alike revolves around empowering players via management tools and customizations options.
      It is a challenge for all skill games companies to meet and exceed increasing player expectations, but to become a next generation operator it has to be a core objective. At the heart of this challenge, whether in delivering bigger and better game experiences or deeper and richer community features, it is all about balance. Skill games by definition are simple, accessible and fun, but next generation factors can weigh  heavily on the size of the applications. A balance therefore needs to be achieved between applying next generation content and complexity in producing the games and making sure that they can be understood, downloaded and played quickly. We have produced a range of sports games that utilize a 3D  Java engine and consequently have to manage this trade-off with smart compression methods.

      There is a lot of talk at the moment about the growth in demand for real-time P2P games. This growth is being driven buy the increase in broadband penetration and the presence of online multiplayer venues such as Xbox Live. As with the game experience, developers and operators have to strike a balance in meeting players ’ expectations of connected skill games. Such online games, that can be played heads up and in real-time, pose challenges that have been overcome, in part, by the online puokeu providers. Like poker, real-time  P2P skill games require enough players (liquidity) to be pooled online at the same time and then directed to challenge each other.
      In some of the more unique P2P skill games that GamArena offers, such as table tennis and ice hockey, the key difference to online poker is that these games are not tuern based. Table tennis, for example, can be played against the computer in a sequential single-player format, but it can also be played as a real-time multiplayer proposition. This requires that a strong, persistent P2P connection is maintained over the Internet and that server lags do not disturb the overall gaming experience. This is achieved via state-of-the – art server side technology, but the challenge, as with managing the richness of next generation skill games, is significant and comes back to getting the balance right.

      There are, clearly, other challenges in delivering next generation skill games. Some of these exist today such as the detection/ prevention of cheating. Others, such as the scaling of technology on a cost effective basis and the extension into mobile, are the result of the growth in demand and expectations of skill gamers. What remains critical, however, is that the overall game experience is compelling and that the interaction with peers is smart, seamless and instant. At the next skill gaming conference we at GamArena very much look forward to demonstrating our achievements in these areas.