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Many people around the world play casino table games like baccarat, blackjack, craps, and Pai Gow poker. But few players actually consider designing their own casino games.

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People can make a lot of money by designing a table game that’s used in many casinos. Creating a game and trademarking it means that casinos must license it from you.

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Shuffle Master (now part of Bally Technologies) was one of the most-successful companies at designing games. They produced Blackjack Switch, Casino War, Let It Ride, and Three-Card Poker before being acquired by Bally in 2013.

But it’s not just large companies that can come up with casino games. Individuals can also design table games and either market them to casinos or bigger companies.

For Example

Free vegas slots. Geoff Hall sold the license to distribute Free Bet Blackjack to Shuffle Master in 2012. Michael “The Wizard of Odds” Shackleford struck a deal with Shuffle Master for the online game Mulligan Poker the same year.

Of course, creating casino table games isn’t easy. Otherwise, every gambling enthusiast would make new games and earn big royalty checks.

But it’s possible to create your own table game if you’re motivated enough and willing to take the risk. That being said, let’s cover 7 steps for casino table game design.

1 – Understand the Odds of Success Beforehand

Land-based casinos are always looking for new table games that can draw players. But as you may have noticed, new table games don’t flow into casinos on a regular basis.

Hits like Three-Card Poker and Pai Gow poker are rare. These are relatively new games that have spread to hundreds of casinos over the decades.

But for every casino invention like these, there are countless others that don’t make the cut. I’ve seen multiple estimates stating that only around one out of every 100 new table games actually make it onto the floor.

Even established casino game inventors have a tough time getting through trials. And even when a casino does agree to test a game, there’s no guarantee that customers will like it.

Important:

Knowing the slim odds of success with designing and marketing table games doesn’t help in the design process. But it’s still good to know the reality before you embark on this task.

You need to put lots of work into designing a successful table game. And you may not have any luck getting your game onto casino floors for a long time.

2 – Familiarize Yourself with the Industry

Creating a table game feels like an overwhelming process in the beginning. You have to come up with a new idea that hasn’t been presented before and make it appealing to both casinos and gamblers.

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This is why dealers, casino personnel, and serious gamblers have a leg up on the competition. Being experienced with table games gives you the ins and outs of what already exists within the industry.

You can then use this knowledge to make improvements on existing games or come up with new concepts.

One key when designing a table game is having rules in place that players can quickly learn. A good practice is to ensure that players can learn the basics of a game within 30-60 seconds.

Some people make the mistake of adding complex rules just to make their game vastly different from what’s currently available. But this turns off players and makes life harder on dealers.

Gamblers don’t want to feel like they’re reading an instruction manual when figuring out a new game. Simplified table games also reduce the chances that dealers will make mistakes.

Casinos like games where there’s little margin for dealer error

This is especially the case when considering that casinos put less-experienced dealers on new games, because these bring in less revenue than the classics.

3 – Come Up with an Idea & Rules

Once you thoroughly know the casino industry and existing table games, you’ll have a stronger chance to develop a winning idea.

Problem:

The only problem is that there aren’t any elaborate college programs on making casino games. This means that it’s all on you to come up with ideas.

You can think of concepts through an aha moment, which may come when you’re mowing the lawn, taking a shower, or driving to work. Or you can schedule a time to sit down, clear your mind, and continually think about a new game idea.

The method all depends upon how your mind works. You may not be the type of person who does well when forced to decide at the moment, instead of letting ideas come to you naturally.

Another thing to consider is what type of new table games typically do well. You’ll find different variations of blackjack and baccarat throughout the industry.

These games usually have an interesting side bet or a new rule that expands on a classic. Here’s an example:

  • A new blackjack variation with a side bet.
  • The game is called Blackjack Triple Down.
  • Players can double down or triple down on score totals of 9-11.

This is a basic concept that gives blackjack players the chances to triple down in favorable situations. And other rules will have to be adjusted to avoid giving players too much of an advantage.

But you can see the basic thought process for taking an existing casino game and adding a twist that makes it unique.

You won’t see many variations of other classics like craps or roulette. For whatever reason, combining the card with craps, unique side bets with roulette, or anything else you can think of doesn’t work as well with these games.

This means that you should begin your idea with table games that already have multiple variations. You can at least be assured that casinos/players are interested in these types of variants since they already exist.

One thing that you should avoid is trying to combine games.

A common mistake among new game makers is immediately going for some combination of poker and baccarat, blackjack and three-card poker, or another pairing.

Rather than expanding on a successful existing formula with a simple rule twist or side bet, this creates a hybrid that forces players to like two games. A player may enjoy blackjack but not three-card poker, meaning that they’re unlikely to try the hybrid.

You’re better off developing table games that interest a single audience looking to take their favorite game a step further. Blackjack players already have the fundamentals of this game down, making them comfortable with learning one added rule or side wager.

4 – Decide on the Equipment

Every table game requires specific equipment to run. Blackjack needs a table and cards, roulette needs a board and wheel, and craps needs a long table and dice.

Note:

Creating a game also means that you’ll need to decide on the required equipment. Preferably, you’ll make a game that can run off what already exists and players are used to.

Things that don’t normally play out well include adding jokers to decks, creating odd-shaped dice, or offering a unique roulette wheel.

This isn’t to say that you can’t think outside of the box with regard to equipment. But you’re taking a greater risk when drastically altering classic casino games that people commonly play.

Much of this goes back to my first point about understanding the industry. If you have a deep insight into casino games and believe that there’s a market for something vastly different, then go for it.

But if you’re trying to break into the industry and want a less-risky starting point, then using what already exists is a good idea.

5 – Calculate the House Edge

One of the hardest parts of designing a table game is figuring out the house edge. Many table game developers will find that this isn’t their strong suit, and they must outsource the work to a skilled mathematician.

Game creators have commonly worked with math whizzes to find the exact house edge of their product. And this is a great way to handle an important aspect if math isn’t your strong suit.

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You can also figure out if your game’s house advantage meets the common parameters of table games. Generally speaking, you want non-skilled table games to have between a 3% and 5% house edge.

This ensures that the casino can make a healthy profit without gouging players. The latter is extremely important because gamblers won’t come back if they quickly lose all their money.

Important:

Likewise, you want to consider the volatility of your game. Baccarat, blackjack, craps, and roulette have remained popular for ages because players win nearly half the time.

Of course, table game side bets are as volatile as slot machines and video poker. But the cost of these wagers is kept low so that players are more willing to dismiss their frequent losses.

Skill-based casino games are held to a different standard. You want the house edge to be between 1% and 2% with correct strategy.

Most players don’t use correct strategy, which pushes the house advantage up to 4% or 5%. Therefore, you don’t want the lowest-possible house edge to be high.

One more thing to consider is advantage play. You want to create a table game that either makes advantage play extremely difficult or eliminates it entirely.

Casinos still offer many blackjack tables, despite the fact that it’s susceptible to card counting and ace sequencing. But blackjack is an exception that brings casinos a significant amount of revenue.

Land-based venues won’t deal with a new table game that opens them up to advantage players. You need to look at your game and the rules from all angles to ensure that advantage gamblers will struggle to make profits.

6 – Come Up with a Name and Patent Your Game

Naming a casino game might seem like an arbitrary process when put next to everything else covered up to this point. But it’s indeed an important aspect that can make or break the success of your creation.

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Much like developing casino game concepts, there’s no manual on how to name new table games. But you can at least use fundamental ideas to guide you.

First, don’t name your game anything too strange. Three and a Half Card Poker might pique interest in a puzzling way, but not the type that gets people to sit down and play.

Secondly, think of something that casino audiences will remember. Part of the reason for Three Card and Four Card Poker’s success is that these games are easy to remember and tell your gambling buddies about.

You should also consider adding an inspiring word that makes players dream of winning big. Any game with the word “bonus” attached is a good example.

Giving your casino table product a name isn’t the finishing touch. You also have to patent your game and hire professionals to guide you through the process.

A patent attorney is a must because you must ensure that your idea is totally original

They’ll help you patent the game so that nobody can profit from it without compensation.

Other professional help that you’ll likely need includes a casino gaming attorney, equipment supplier, and mathematician. The entire process can cost anywhere from $40,000 to $70,000 just to make the game official.

Developers often run into unforeseen costs, including game lab testing, marketing, and state gaming application fees. These can easily push the total cost of making a game and getting it approved into the six-figure range.

The rewards can be great and make all these costs worthwhile. But keep in mind the substantial financial risk that you’ll be taking.

7 – Market Your Table Game to Casinos

Once you’ve created a table game and gone through all the necessary steps to patent it, the last major step is to approach casinos about a trial run.

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Casinos don’t just license random games and immediately install 20 tables. Instead, they’ll put your game through a 90-day trial run to measure its profit potential.

Many games don’t even get a trial for one or more reasons. This can include anything from the casino finding the rules too complex to failing to see the long-term potential.

If casinos are interested, you’ll get a meeting to present why your game can be successful. Assuming you pass this test, then the casino will give you a trial.

Of course, this is no guarantee of success. Your game still has to prove that it can generate enough revenue in a limited time frame.

Another aspect to consider is where the casino puts your table game. They won’t give your game a prime location right away, because the best table spots are reserved for proven commodities.

Being rejected by a casino or failing a trial run doesn’t mean that your game is finished. You can contact a wide range of gambling establishments to see if they’re interested in your product

Another route includes contacting larger companies that develop and market games. I mentioned a couple examples earlier of individuals having success through this method.

You can also rent booths at trade shows like the Global Gaming Expo. This is the casino industry’s largest trade show, and it gives game developers a chance to showcase their creations.

Competition is fierce at a major show like the Global Gaming Expo. But attending these events offers you an opportunity to give casino executives a live look at your game.

Sometimes all you need is one casino to approve your game and profit from it. Other gambling venues can take notice and express interest in the product afterward.

Achieving mass adoption gives you the potential to earn six or even seven figures annually from a successful table game.

Conclusion

I’ve repeatedly stressed the risks associated with designing a casino table game. Odds are that your first try won’t be a winner.

But this isn’t meant to discourage you. Individuals have successfully developed casino games that have made them a long-term fortune.

The foundation for creating a successful casino game begins with understanding the existing industry and where there’s space for a new product. This becomes easier if you’ve already spent hours with different table games.

From here, you need to create the game by coming up with the concept, rules, equipment, and house edge. Many game designers will need help with the latter because it’s difficult to calculate all the different math variables with the rules.

One potentially huge roadblock to aspiring table game designers is the costs. I covered earlier how you may ultimately spend six figures to patent and market your game.

Given everything that goes into creating a table game, I suggest that you only undertake this matter if you’re serious and have a great idea.
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