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Casino Social Gaming

Posted Thursday, May 30th, 2013 12:12 am GMT -5 in Casinos, Technology

Online gaming has been the talk of the bricks and mortar casino world for some time. Now that the DOJ has given the green light, states are falling all over themselves to introduce legislation legalizing various forms of online gambling for real money play. Nevada and New Jersey were the first ones out of the gate (no big surprise there), with the former doing poker only (see Ultimate Poker) and the latter basically trying everything. Delaware has also approved iGaming and Iowa may be the first Midwestern state to get something passed.

Minnesota didn’t introduce anything this session – which may be due to a bit of fall-out from the electronic pull tabs that were intended to help pay for the Vikings stadium. If the first group of states is successful, however, I’m sure you will see something introduced very soon – most likely via the state lottery. That’s how the Canadian provinces did it and I think support would be high on both sides of the aisle for something like this.

What about the tribes? It’s an interesting legal question, because current Class III gaming (Vegas style slot machines) on tribal lands was authorized at the federal level by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Since there is no federal legislation at this point for online gaming, tribal compacts would have to be negotiated state by state. Most tribes don’t want to re-open existing compacts (particularly in Minnesota), so it will be interesting to see how this progresses. Some of the California tribes have introduced legislation in Sacramento, but nothing has passed so far.

While we all wait to see what happens in the real money arena, there are plenty of free-play options around. Lots of vendors are pitching various products and platforms to existing casinos to get their players comfortable playing online and most of the major slot manufacturers have been buying up or partnering with newer tech companies. Real money play has been a reality in most of the world outside of the United States for some time, so the technology is proven and will be simple to implement when the laws catch up.

Social gaming (most notably via Facebook) has meshed with casino gaming in a big way. Almost all of the major slot companies have versions of their games on Facebook or in the mobile app stores (see the High 5 Casino shot above), and there is real money to be made in the sale of chips to players (even though it’s all “free play” and you don’t win anything). IGT and WMS have a large number of their real-world games available on Facebook, complete with the exact same sound and graphics you will find on an actual casino floor. Ballys and Aristocrat have hit the mobile app stores in a big way, although I don’t know how much they make selling apps for a buck or two.

Then there is my favorite – myVegas by MGM Resorts. Developed by Playstudios, this Facebook app has elements of Farmville (build your own Vegas Strip!), the option to purchase additional chips, strong branding around the various hotels, unique custom games and an extremely clever marketing tie-in that allows players to earn real comps in Las Vegas. Just about the only thing I don’t like about it is that it’s Flash-based, so it doesn’t run on mobile devices (they do have an iPhone app that is very well done, but doesn’t involve playing the web games).

I’ve played a lot on myVegas and have earned enough points to claim a free suite at Mandalay Bay and tickets to see a Cirque show. I’ve never purchased chips (you are granted additional free chips every few hours), so this was truly free play entertainment. I love the branding and marketing aspect of their product and it will drive real world game play in their bricks and mortar facilities when we visit next month. I don’t think they envision it as anything other than a marketing expense, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they make a decent amount of money on chip purchases. Hell, there is even a fan site that tracks every update and promotion. Well done MGM!

Originally published by DK on May 30, 2013 at 12:12 am

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