Understanding gambling and gaming skill and its implications for the convergence of gaming with electronic gaming machines

Paul Delfabbro, Daniel King, Sally M. Gainsbury

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Skill-based elements are increasing being introduced to electronic gaming machines to appeal to a broad consumer cohort by offering different play experiences. In this paper, we examine what is meant by skill in gambling and to what extent electronic skilled-gambling games differ from existing forms of gambling. Using examples drawn from recent market releases, we examine the ways in which skill-elements are being incorporated into gaming machines. As we will highlight, the industry could look to profit from skillful games in different ways: one model might allow skillful play, but in a context where the long-term RTP always remains negative. Another model might allow individual players to obtain greater returns through competition against other players or genuine opportunities to obtain a positive RTP, but where this will only be achievable for a minority of players. We discuss the potential implications of these differences for player experiences as well as game profitability. We argue that a deeper understanding of how similar structural differences operate in video-gaming might provide useful insights into how popular and successful (from an industry perceptive) these games are likely to be as well as the potential implications for policies, problem gambling, and treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-183
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Gambling Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sept 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • casino
  • electronic gaming machines
  • gambling
  • gambling industry
  • Skill


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