Skill-based gaming company: Testing machines in Vegas was ‘great move’

Synergy Blue

A Safari Match skill-based gaming machine by Las Vegas-based Synergy Blue.

As casinos try to lure younger customers, skill-based gaming has become a hot topic.

One company bullish on skill-based games is Synergy Blue, which moved its operations from Palm Desert, Calif., to Las Vegas over the summer.

Synergy Blue, a 7-year-old company with about 50 employees, specializes in creating arcade-style offerings that marry traditional video games and chance-based gambling machines.

In early November, Synergy Blue announced a trial placement agreement for some of its games with Station Casinos; they are at the Palms and Red Rock Resort.

This week, the company announced a similar deal with Caesars Entertainment to place machines at the Linq on a trial basis.

“The gold standard of gaming is Vegas, so we really felt like we needed to get out here,” said Georg Washington, the company’s CEO. “We’ve had an incredible welcome from the business community. The gaming and gambling talent pool is a bit unique to this area, too, and we plan to grow by 15% to 20% next year. It’s been a great move for us.”

Paul Breci, a regional vice president of gaming for Caesars, said Synergy Blue is the type of company the casino mega-operator is looking to partner with.

“Companies like Synergy Blue are creating new and different gaming experiences for our guests, and we’re excited to offer their games at the Linq,” Breci said. “We strive to exceed expectations and provide today’s casino guests with new, entertaining and technology-driven experiences.”

Synergy Blue’s lineup of games includes titles like Candy Cash, Safari Match and Mahjong, all of which will be available at the Linq.

Washington said the company originally started in the player loyalty arena, building promotional games and applications for companies like slot machine makers Aristrocrat Technologies and International Game Technology, before branching out into the skill-based realm about four years ago.

“I had a lot of people working for me from the video game industry,” Washington said. “They would ask me, ‘When can we build some video games?’ We ended up sitting down to try to work out ways we could build video games with gambling. That’s basically how it began, and we started building those types of games.”

When he asked some of the younger people in his company what games might interest them, they mentioned arcade-style games.

“We saw a need,” Washington said. “We were coming in and out of Vegas, and we would see people of that younger generation who would come and go from the bars and not play a lot of things. They were maybe playing some table games, but it was very limited. We started to wonder how we could grab some of those people and create some revenue opportunities.”

Washington also credits the founder of the video game system Atari — which helped introduce an entire generation to video games in the 1970s and 1980s — with helping steer the vision at Synergy Blue.

Atari founder Nolan Bushnell has consulted with company leaders about how to capture the attention of gamers, Washington said.

“As Nolan always says, the key to these games is making them easy to learn but hard to master,” Washington said. “The goal is to allow people to have fun and also to keep them playing.”