Coeur D’Alene Casino Becomes Tribal Gaming Test Ground for New Machines

By | January 5, 2022

Coeur d’Alene Casino in northwestern Idaho has opened what’s believed to be the tribal gaming industry’s first-ever testing ground.

Coeur d'Alene Casino slot skill gaming manufacturer
The entrance to the Coeur d’Alene Casino floor. The tribal casino is developing a testing ground for new games called the “Development Den.” (Image: Coeur d’Alene Casino)

The Worley, Id., tribally owned and operated casino says its “Discovery Den,” which opened on New Year’s Eve, features a smattering of new terminals and gaming machines from the industry’s leading manufacturers. The space will rotate new products each quarter from well-known developers, including AGS, Bluberi, Everi, Konami, Scientific Games, and Gaming Arts.

To be recognized as a location to feature these new games is an honor,” said Laura Penney, CEO of Coeur d’Alene Casino. “The latest innovative video gaming machines will be revealed right here.”

The 100,000-square-foot Coeur d’Alene Casino floor features 1,200 video gaming machines and a high-stakes bingo room.

The “Discovery Den” is 2,200 square feet and houses around 30 games.

Tribal Operations

Idaho state officials have refused to enter into Class III gaming compacts with its federally recognized tribes. Such a pact would allow them to place traditional slot machines and table games into their casinos. As a result, the tribal casinos can only offer Class I and II gaming devices, as defined under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).

IGRA allows federally recognized tribes to conduct Class I and II gaming on their sovereign lands. Such gambling includes pull tabs and punch boards, lotto games, and bingo.

Tribal casinos that do not have Class III state compacts circumvent the federal regulatory rule by placing bingo-based terminals that look and sound like slots found in Las Vegas. Coeur d’Alene Casino’s “Discovery Den” will be a rotating hub of the latest bingo-based gambling apparatuses.

The area, a statement from the casino explained, will “provide gaming manufacturers a place to test their latest technology.”

The Coeur d’Alene Tribe has operated the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel since 1993. Located roughly 30 air miles east of Spokane, Wa., the resort offers 300 hotel rooms, seven restaurants, a spa, and an events center. The resort’s Circling Raven Golf Club was this week ranked No. 120 on GolfWeek’s “Top 200 Resort Golf Courses in the United States.”

Appealing to Next Generation

Commercial casinos, as well as tribal ones that offer slots, have been for years debating how to attract younger players. Gaming experts say millennials do not fancy slot machines nearly as much as their parents and grandparents.

Casinos have toyed with various ideas. Skill gaming, or gambling products that combine elements of aptitude with luck, was a major industry buzzword during the previous decade.

Those games, however, largely didn’t resonate. Test runs on slot-video game hybrids were yanked from Las Vegas Strip floors just weeks after they were placed.

Numerous manufacturers, including those that will place their latest devices inside Coeur’s “Discovery Den,” continue to work on developing the slot machines of the future.

The other side of the millennial argument is that casinos need customers who have disposable income, and that isn’t typically the case with the 18- to 29-year-old crowd.

Casino industry veteran Gary Green wrote in 2017 that, like the generations before them, millennials will show up and gamble once they’re older.

What we have learned — or should have learned — in these six decades is that the demographic and psychographic profile of gamblers is distinctively different from the profile of 18 to 29-year-olds,” Green wrote. “More than age differential, there are the issues of disposable income, recreational choices, and general priorities.

“It is correct, millennials are not flocking to casinos. They are not coming for 25 years,” Green continued. “We have a quarter of a century before we can reasonably expect them to show up at the casino.”

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