February 11, 2020 Casino, Technology, Land-Based, Interview

Linq Casino the model to follow, says Hold Gaming Founder


Hold Gaming Founder and among the first Double Down Interactive employees, Phil Runyan, says the Linq Casino is the model to follow in terms of organization of casino floors.

Runyan, whose company is behind the skill-influenced Blackjack Fire game, highlighted the work of Linq in Las Vegas, owned by Caesars Entertainment, as the model “a lot of rivals need to try and mimic.”

When discussing the future of skill-influenced games, Runyan referenced younger demographics, telling Gaming America: “People want to get in there, they want to beat somebody, they like leaderboards.

“I can see this type of gaming expanding now. Do I think video game gambling is going to take off like some of these other competitors we are seeing in the market space? I think that is really to be seen. 

“We have seen this content reel off the floors of casinos. I know they are making edits to math models and things of that nature. They are trying to adapt the product, trying to figure out where it fits; does it reside on a casino floor next to slot games? Does it need its own home? 

“I think the Linq over at Caesars has done an amazing job in building out this secondary area where you are not kind of trying to put this content smack dab next to the table games on the floor, or right at the sportsbook, or again these table games or what not; as well as other types of video content right next to slots.”

Runyan is now in his 10th year in the industry, something he quickly and amusingly jokes about, and it is clear during the interview an upbeat charisma is not something he lacks at all.

He was with Double Down Interactive in its earliest days, to the point he tells Gaming America his user number was just a single digit, and he has also worked with GameHouse.

His company launched Blackjack Fire in 2018, the competitive casino game on the Apple App Store which can operate in 36 states.

The idea for the game came about in 2017, when he realized he wanted to give people the opportunity to play skill games for free, while also having the option to play for cash prizes once they are comfortable.

Runyan explains: “Blackjack Fire was the first game that came to mind, because everyone thinks they are fantastic at Blackjack; everybody knows how to play it. It’s a globally accepted game and whether you are really good or really horrible, you can still have fun playing it and even win money. 

“That was it; it was just understanding that those social casino players, an entire industry is propped up on 5-8% of people who actually spend money. So you have to monetize players in other fashions. The reason they don’t monetize, the biggest complaint is they go ‘well why would I give you good money for fake coins to win fake coins?’ and so we wanted to answer that.” 

When asked what makes it more of a game of skill than chance, Runyan explains: “So if you and I have the exact same betting strategy, we know how to manage our bank roll, we have the exact same play strategy, we know when to hit, when to split.

“Let’s say if I can do the math and probability, even 1% faster than you, then I am going to have 1% more cards come out of that deck than you will, which gives me 1% more opportunities to put points on the board.”

Runyan is keen to expand Blackjack Fire, with further updates set to be rolled out, including a player-versus-everybody style of gameplay, as well as rolling out tournaments.

Runyan also mentioned the company has an idea for content based on slots, saying: “We all know slots-based content; I mean there is a reason why it occupies over 80% of any casino floor; because people love to play it, right?

“So we have got an interesting take on spin-based content that will still function as a skill-based game, again in a competitive manner.”

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