Gamblit Gaming, a start-up gaming equipment company that plans to combine traditional slot machines with entertainment-style video games, was granted a license Thursday in Las Vegas by the Nevada Gaming Commission.
The Glendale, Calif.-based company is a subsidiary of Hard 8 Games, which is owned by American Capital, a business development company headquartered in Bethesda, Md., and traded publicly on the Nasdaq.
Gamblit CEO Eric Meyerhofer told the Gaming Commission that the company planned to display its initial slot machines at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas, which runs from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2. The company hopes to seek approval for use of the games in Nevada casinos in the first half of 2015.
Following the commission meeting, Meyerhofer said the company expects to partner with a larger slot machine manufacturer to bring the games into market.
“At the start, we think our games will have a segment of the slot machine floor,” Meyerhofer said. “We’ll grow based on floor performance.”
During a presentation earlier this month to the Gaming Control Board, Meyerhofer showed regulators video of a gaming concept in which a Scrabble-type word game, such as those found on social gaming websites, was combined with a traditional slot machine.
Gamblit’s idea, he said, was to design products that feature games played on mobile devices and other platforms on a slot machine.
On Thursday, Meyerhofer told the Gaming Commission the new games might be a way to grow the slot machine market, which he said was losing customers in the ages 21-to-45 bracket.
“Only 15 percent of those customers will ever touch a slot machine,” he said. “We believe we can grow that market.”
Commission Chairman Peter Bernhard, who was overseeing his last meeting after heading the panel for nearly 13 years, commented that Gamblit’s financial backing from American Capital seemed stable. The company manages $19 billion in assets.
“We have a great deal of capacity to make investments in this company,” American Capital CEO Malon Wilkus said. “We also believe this company will attract a lot of capital from (other sources) as well.”
Bernhard, who said Wednesday that the meeting would be his last as chairman, said he hoped to keep the announcement under wraps until the end of Thursday’s monthly session.
Gov. Brian Sandoval announced Bernhard’s retirement Wednesday and named commissioner Tony Alamo as the panel’s first new chairman since September 2001.
Sandoval also named former Southern Nevada Water Authority General Manager Pat Mulroy to serve out the last 10 months of Bernhard’s term.
“I was trying to avoid a Derek Jeter retirement tour,” Bernhard said of the New York Yankees shortstop, who is retiring from Major League Baseball following the end of the season.
Instead, Bernhard was treated to platitudes and comments from gaming attorneys and his fellow commissioners.
“‘Mr. Chairman.’ It’s sad for me to say that for the last time,” said gaming attorney Frank Schreck, who was once a law partner with Bernhard.
The commission also saluted the contributions of four individuals who died in the past month; gaming executive Al Benedict, television station owner and philanthropist Jim Rogers, civic leader Bob Bailey and gaming attorney Bob Faiss.
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