By Ian Bush


By KYW tech editor Ian Bush

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBS) — It’s tough to earn a living playing video games, but it just got easier to make some money — if you’re good enough to beat the house.

Harrah’s and other casinos run by Caesars in Atlantic City are the first in the country to get skill-based video game gambling.

Let’s take a seat at ‘Danger Arena,’ alongside professional gamer Vanessa Arteaga.

“It’s a first-person action game,” she says. “Your enemy is a robot, and you have 45 seconds to kill as many as you can. The top number is 10.”

Bets range from 50 cents to $20.

“Take out six bots, they’re in the money,” says GameCo CEO Blaine Graboyes. “Take out 10 bots for the highest payout — 25 times their bet. So with a $20 bet, they can win up to $500.”

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The founder of the company behind ‘Danger Arena’ says similar to electronic poker and blackjack, there’s a random element to the game.

“This has 10,000 maps,” Graboyes explains. “The only random part is which map you’re playing in each game. So it’s completely up to the player’s skill to get the highest possible score.”

And to take the most money from Caesars and Bally’s Atlantic City president Kevin Ortzman.

“This is really the evolution of the slot product, particularly to the GenX/Millennial demographics that in five years, will be the largest consumer in the U.S.,” Ortzman says. “It is loaded with action, excitement, adventure — everything they grew up on, now put into a skill-based game that they can actually monetize.”

The 21 ‘Danger Arena’ machines in AC are the first video game gambling machines to be approved by a casino regulator. The hope is to turn around flagging slots revenues by appealing to the younger set. But it’s not just millennials trying their hand.

“Our first customer was a Vietnam vet,” Graboyes says.

GameCo promises more games are coming, including tie-ins with popular movies and TV shows. Though — you have to be 21 to play in this kind of arcade.