The Borgata casino in New Jersey made headlines this week when they obtained permission from the state hold the first competition of its kind. Players will have a 20-dollar buy-in, which entitles them to 90-seconds of hoops. The game will require contestants to stand 15-feet away from the hoop to make free-throw shots, using a regulation-sized ball, and it’s open to everyone, including professional athletes. Winners progress through 16 levels in the bracket tournament, and the top four contestants spilt a 10,000 dollar prize pool. The overall winner receives 5,000 dollars. It will take place in March of 2015, but those in the industry feel that this single contest will change the way casinos view gambling and the gaming options they provide. Decreases in revenue caused four of Atlantic City’s casinos to close their doors in 2014, but the remaining eight are gaining again. Innovative concepts like the Borgata’s basketball contest are expected to catch on, though each casino will need to have their concept approved by state regulatory agencies. Online Games of Skill Naturally, games of skill played for money have picked up steam online as well. In parts of the US where gambling is illegal, as well as in other jurisdictions that outlaw gambling, websites that provide games of skill for cash are even more popular. Sites like Game Colony are popular among Americans and are legal in most states, even when gambling is illegal in them. King is also a popular website in the UK and it provides a large selection of skill-based gaming options. There is also a growing trend among traditional online casinos to include games of skill. Many websites, like Ladbrokes, William Hill, and Star Games provide backgammon as a betting option. Ladbrokes also carries a variant of Battleship the traditional board game. Star Games carries a number of head-to-head gaming options, including the classics, but also adds in novel concepts like darts and Sudoku. Because these types of games are becoming more popular, there’s a good chance your favorite online casino already has a few options in place. Although a search for “skill games” on any of the above websites will yield no results, you’ll find them under “Arcade Games,” “Other Games,” or at Star Games, they’re simply listed in the “Games” section. Games of Skill vs Games of Chance Because legislation varies throughout the world, and even between the different states in the US, games of skill remain a highly-debated topic. It’s common to see gaming options which require some degree of skill, like poker, in a gambling hall, but they still require an element of chance. Games based totally on a player’s merit, such as chess, don’t often make their way to the casino floor, and many jurisdictions don’t know who to classify them when they do. Backgammon, for example, came under fire in the US during the 1980s. While it’s largely a game of skill, it still involves dice, which are ruled by chance. However, it was determined by an American judge back then that the game is still one of skill, and is therefore not subject to gambling regulations. The UK Gambling Commission, however, has adapted specific guidelines for skill games with prizes, or at least clarifies a difference between gambling machines, like slots, and those that offer only skilled betting options. When chance is removed from the equation, the agency does not regulate the games at all, even if they sit beside a slot machine in a pub. Video match games, trivia, and variants of board games, started making their way into betting halls in the early 2000s. They seem to have taken on a life of their own, and companies now offer ongoing tournaments or head-to-head gaming against players in other pubs and halls. Generally speaking, in order to be classified as a game of skill, versus a game of chance, it needs to meet three guidelines. First, the prize pool must be predetermined, regardless of how many people choose to compete. Secondly, the prize awarded must be predetermined and guaranteed as well, and cannot change based on the number of entrants, either. Finally, the house cannot compete for a piece of the prize. Although the Borgata’s new skill betting option is the first of its kind, simply because it involves physical abilities and manual dexterity, it’s not the first wagering option a casino has provided for a game of skill. Even still, it’s a novel concept, and it’s also one that’s sure to catch on among other Atlantic City casinos and perhaps throughout the world. Software developers have certainly seen that there’s a calling for skill-based machines, as well as online gaming options, so it’s likely more of them will be integrated into casinos as time passes. The face of gambling is indeed changing, and more innovative concepts are sure to follow.