Regulatory requirements for new game installation
In Part I of this article, I covered why we would consider adding a new game to our table games pits, as well as the nuts and bolts areas, like determining game costs, selecting the appropriate theoretical hold, as well as understanding equipment requirements and creating a strategic marketing plan to promote the game.
Now we can move on to the regulatory requirements that must be addressed prior to a new game installation:
- Has the game been reviewed and approved for use in the state where you are operating?
- Has tribal licensing reviewed the State and Tribal Compact, Vendor’s History, and Annual Vendor Fees?
- Does the vendor provide marketing support?
While the rules vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, all new games must be submitted to both state and tribal regulators for approval before they can be offered at casinos or card rooms.
The games must be submitted with the rules, procedures and add odds, and the equipment that will be utilized in conjunction with the operation of the game must also be approved. Any modifications to the game must be submitted and approved before they are released to any gambling house. Here is a generalized view of the guidelines:
- Commercial casinos and card room operators seeking to operate a new game must first submit their internal controls and receive approval from the state gaming/gambling commission prior to implementing.
- Manufacturers and distributors of graphic layouts and/or any other equipment associated with the game must be licensed by the state prior to the sale of the equipment.
- Each Tribal Gaming Operation must request and obtain approval from their respective Tribal Gaming Agencies (TGA).
- Before the TGA allows your game to operate, they will seek concurrence from your state gaming commission.
- In addition to your approved rules, the Tribal submission must include all supplemental information required by the Tribal-State Compact.
- Manufacturers and distributors of graphic layouts and/or any other equipment associated with the game must be certified by the state and licensed by the Tribe prior to the sale of the equipment.
The vendors will also need to submit the appropriate information regarding the ownership and operation of their company, and pay a yearly fee to remain authorized. There is no worse feeling than finding out that the game you want and have performed your due diligence on is not authorized in your area.
In order for a game itself to be authorized, a card-based game must be played with standard playing cards or with electronic card facsimiles, and offer no more than three separate games with a single hand of cards. Many jurisdictions consider bonus features and progressive jackpots as separate games. If a player does not have to place a separate wager to participate, many commissions do not consider it as a separate game.
Players must compete against all other players on an equal basis for non-house-banked games or against the house for house-banked games. All players must compete solely as a player in the card game and not place wagers on any other player’s or the house’s hand or make side wagers with other players, except for an insurance wager placed in the game of Blackjack or an envy wager that allows a player to receive a prize if another player wins a jackpot or odds-based wager.
Finally, one of the most important factors related to the success of any game is advertising. It doesn’t matter how amazing the game is if no one knows that you have it. A new game gives you something to talk to your guests about and offers them a new and exciting gaming option. Keeping your patrons coming back to your property as opposed to your competition is the name of the game, right? Even if a prospective patron comes into the casino to see the game and chooses not to play, bringing them onto the property increases the probability that they will pay for other entertainment or food during their visit. While you will budget for marketing a game launch, seeking support on the part of the vendor is a plus. They need to provide you with the logo for the game and support materials to use in your ads and on your website. Oftentimes you can get the vendor to supply the initial rack cards and throw in shirts or logo-based tchotchkes to help promote their offering. After all, their success is tied to yours.
Good luck with your choices! Doing your homework before you place a game won’t guarantee a successful addition to your pit, but it will make it far more probable.