Broke even on the initial fewOriginally published by DK on May 8, 2021 at 2:10 pm
Thanks for a great time, SMSCOriginally published by DK on April 27, 2021 at 6:04 pm
Best win of the nightOriginally published by DK on April 26, 2021 at 1:11 am
110 free spins on Orchid @ Mystic (40-cent bet, no progressives, won $86.35)Originally published by DK on April 26, 2021 at 1:06 am
Back again this weekendOriginally published by DK on April 22, 2021 at 7:53 pm
Not doing so great on scratchers latelyOriginally published by DK on April 21, 2021 at 6:41 pm
Made another run at the Grand Casino Hinckley Black Orchid ($15K top progressive)Originally published by DK on April 17, 2021 at 10:13 pm
…with CK @ Mystic LakeOriginally published by DK on April 15, 2021 at 10:22 pm
Rude shirt, Banza mask and a new sticker for the laptopOriginally published by DK on April 14, 2021 at 7:15 pm
Not quite open yet at The Meadows (had tarps on when we first arrived)Originally published by DK on March 31, 2021 at 5:15 pm
With one giant forgOriginally published by DK on March 31, 2021 at 5:13 pm
The filet (with blue cheese) @ Mystic SteakhouseOriginally published by DK on March 29, 2021 at 2:24 pm
It seems hard to believe, but I’ve now been out of the casino industry almost six years. Being an old person, I still visit casinos on a regular basis (more on that age demographic thing later). I keep in touch with a number of my former colleagues and suppliers and get an occasional industry newsletter in my inbox from time to time. A recent one had a link to a story in the Las Vegas Review-Journal that I thought was super interesting: The Plaza downtown was opening an area of their slot floor dedicated to a YouTuber named Brian Christopher.
As a nerd, I’m normally pretty open to new gaming trends, but I never fully understood the desire to watch other people play video games on Twitch (and other services). To see that a major casino in Vegas was partnering with someone who records himself playing slot machines was surprising to me, given what I know about casino marketing and security. I started following the BC Slots channel on YouTube about a month ago and I have to admit I now understand the appeal.
So what’s this all about?
While there are probably hundreds of slot machine YouTubers out there now, what Brian Christopher has accomplished so far is impressive. The 40-year-old is originally from Toronto, moved to Los Angeles and now lives in Palm Springs (more on his backstory here). His branding appears to have changed over time – he owns BrianGambles.com and casinoswag.com, for example – and joined YouTube way back in 2006 (he went full-time with BC Slots in 2016).
As of March 2021, his videos have more than 222 million views, with 358,000 subscribers to his channel. His fans are called “Rudies” and he gets financial support from them via Patreon, where people can pay anywhere from $5 to $1200 a month, and from contributions during live chats. Other financial aspects of his business, including sponsorships and appearance fees, are not disclosed. His YouTube account was suspended briefly in 2018 (along with many other gaming channels), as documented in this story from The Atlantic.
Christopher has an appealing video presence (he was an actor before YouTube), with many catchphrases popular among the Rudies. Many of these end up on merchandise that he sells online. In addition to the partnership with The Plaza, he has hosted promotions with many regional casinos and at least one slot manufacturer (Aristocrat). He’s mentioned on recent videos that he attended the G2E conference, an industry trade show not open to the general public.
BC Slots has a small staff in Palm Springs and outsources aspects of the operation (video editing and social media management were specifically mentioned in an interview). Videos are posted daily to the YouTube channel, he does periodic live streams on YouTube and Facebook and has regular content on Instagram and Twitter as well. Assistant Britt appears in most videos, while his husband Marco makes less frequent appearances. Other routines include handing out free “lucky wristbands” to fans and hosting group pulls, where participants normally pay $200-$500 for a set amount of spins (usually on a high-limit machine).
So what is my take on all of this from the perspective of a former casino operator? My initial reaction was “there is no way security would allow this to happen” in Minnesota. Casino security guards are notorious for yelling at people who take pictures on their slot floors (let alone video). On one of his old blog posts, Christopher lists casinos he has visited (including several in Las Vegas that he said were rude and that he would never return to <cough>Caesar’s Palace<cough>). My guess is that those visits involved security getting involved before marketing knew what was going on.
Getting back to the age demographic thing, the entire time I worked in the casino industry, leaders and pundits were afraid of the aging demographic. All the best players were getting older and dying off and there was this constant fear of trying to appeal to younger generations. I always felt this was a little misplaced, because 1) your older players still have a lot of money and 2) younger people will get older and want to eventually do some of these same things. The success of BC Slots (and other gaming YouTubers) show that younger players can get interested in these “traditional” games just like their parents (and grandparents). What will be interesting to see is if the casinos decide to start producing this content themselves. The videos are a great way to train players on new games and generate excitement that can drive future visits.
I love the production value of the videos that Christopher produces. He doesn’t edit out the losses and only show bonuses and jackpots (although I think he does project a luckier-than-average overall image). I also applaud him using his platform to promote causes like Smoke Free Casinos, an effort I’ve long supported (and which may finally get some traction post-pandemic). The partnership with The Plaza is very clever – the section has his favorite games, you can watch videos of him winning jackpots on those games and you can earn your own lucky wristband with 100 points of play in that area. Another recent promotion gave $100 in free play to the first 300 people that mentioned his name in Palm Springs (all were gone the first day). It’s also great that he has a link to NCPG in every video.
So what’s not to like? Security directors will surely see many more copycats try to film without permission. In general, I’d like to see those policies change anyways – from a marketing standpoint, it’s important that guests can share images and videos of them having fun. It’s good for the guest and good for the casinos. I think we are mostly beyond the days of people not wanting to be pictured at a casino (which is not to say guest privacy isn’t important). There are also copyright issues with filming in a casino for profit – some of his videos have to be edited to conceal logos from clothes or mute a song playing in the background. Seems like most of the slot manufacturers are good with their intellectual property being shared and promoted (although I wonder if that will change if some games start to get bad publicity).
The other issue I have with BC Slots is bet size and disclosure. Personally, I’ve always been a minimum bet slot player who likes to maximize time on machine (it is, after all, entertainment). It rubs me the wrong way that BC highlights max betting in all his videos and tends to make light of those that don’t follow suit. While casinos love max bet players, the majority of people can’t afford it and shouldn’t gamble that way. Granted, videos with $25 spins are much more exciting to watch than those with 40-cent spins, but I think it’s unfair if there is no disclosure that some (or all) of that play is coming from the house. From his FAQ page:
How much money do you gamble with & where do you get it from?
Well money is a delicate subject as it’s very personal. I will say however that I am very smart with money. I strictly use an entertainment budget to play with and understand how slot machines work (more on that below). Also a lot of my money gets recycled from previous trips and the key is knowing when to CASH OUT. And just like I don’t ask or know how much my sister and brother make at their jobs, I’m not going to get into finances with complete strangers either 😉
It’s a whole lot easier to do ten pulls on a $100 slot machine if that $1000 was given to you by the casino, no?
That said, I do enjoy watching these videos and will likely continue to do so. Time will tell if it changes the way I play in real life or not. I did try a few new games on my last casino trip based on things I had seen in the videos (although definitely not at those same denomination and bet levels). I think it would also be really interesting if someone compiled statistics/analytics on his videos (index of games played, amounts won/lost, bonuses hit).
In my opinion, there is an amazing lack of information on slot machines online that makes it hard for people to learn about what games they would like (volatility, best odds, payouts, rules). That is probably the biggest benefit to casinos from YouTubers like this – people can see how the games are played before they risk their own money. Hmm…maybe there is a new side hustle in my future…Originally published by DK on March 26, 2021 at 4:42 pm
One away from $15K (and an example of 40-cent vs. 99-cent) @ Grand Casino HinckleyOriginally published by DK on March 14, 2021 at 9:13 pm
Mostly happy switching to Lightning Link (50-cent spins)Originally published by DK on March 13, 2021 at 10:25 pm
Walleye, Bay Muffin, VC Blue Cheese & WingsOriginally published by DK on March 13, 2021 at 10:22 pm
Lightning Link – Dragon’s Riches @ Fortune BayOriginally published by DK on March 13, 2021 at 12:53 pm
Bay muffin, Wild Chuco, Casino ClubOriginally published by DK on March 12, 2021 at 1:14 pm
That was not the original name…Originally published by DK on March 11, 2021 at 8:19 pm
Such a silly dogeOriginally published by DK on February 27, 2021 at 12:09 pm
…and had “spinnies” on the Black Orchid progressive (which would’ve been almost $15,000)Originally published by DK on February 17, 2021 at 7:58 pm
Answers were MAYBE NEXT TIME, TRY AGAIN, YOU TRIED, CLOSE, OUR REGRETS and NOPEOriginally published by DK on February 3, 2021 at 2:24 pm
https://www.bcslots.com/Originally published by DK on February 3, 2021 at 10:19 am
I feel robbedOriginally published by DK on January 28, 2021 at 3:24 pm
💰 💵 ☘️Originally published by DK on January 22, 2021 at 12:39 pm
Shouldn’t this be a state secret?Originally published by DK on January 14, 2021 at 12:09 am
The very clever series of commercials for Grand Casino (developed by the talented Chad Germann and his team at Red Circle Agency) has always made me feel like I should have one of those experiences at some point. Sadly, I’ve never had a large jackpot at Hinckley or Mille Lacs, but today my daughter and I at least had something happen that might qualify as a true Grand Story:
Hinckley has a ton of my favorite game, Black Orchid, often with unusually high progressives. The first machine I played today had a large frog progressive, so MK pulled out her lucky frog (a handmade clay pin) and set it on the machine. A few minutes later, boom, $78.43 frog jackpot. On our way out, we saw another Black Orchid that had a very large butterfly progressive that we tried to hit (unsuccessfully). Just before giving up, though, we hit a smaller $30.61 frog jackpot that put us back on the positive side of the ledger for the night…Originally published by DK on January 10, 2021 at 11:20 pm
Not usually a fan of prime rib, but this was deliciousOriginally published by DK on January 10, 2021 at 9:48 pm
https://www.startribune.com/from-play-ball-to-play-bally-s-sinclair-betting-on-legal-gambling-to-boost-viewership/573452881/Originally published by DK on December 22, 2020 at 11:03 am
Breakfast, lunch or dinner – always goodOriginally published by DK on November 16, 2020 at 8:58 pm
Thank you, babies!Originally published by DK on November 16, 2020 at 8:47 pm
Such a solid jointOriginally published by DK on November 16, 2020 at 8:31 pm
Snol’s casino debutOriginally published by DK on November 16, 2020 at 8:28 pm
Tank for Trevor?Originally published by DK on November 16, 2020 at 9:57 am
But I only hit the cat oneOriginally published by DK on November 2, 2020 at 12:32 am
…but it didn’t stick aroundOriginally published by DK on October 11, 2020 at 6:07 pm
Chicken wild rice soup @ Minnehaha Cafe, Mystic LakeOriginally published by DK on October 11, 2020 at 6:02 pm
Thanks, Grand Portage (gave it all back)Originally published by DK on October 2, 2020 at 6:03 pm
I miss MelOriginally published by DK on September 30, 2020 at 12:35 pm
Approach to nine green, peak color, The Wilderness at Fortune Bay #nofilterOriginally published by DK on September 25, 2020 at 10:53 pm
Top notch food at Fortune BayOriginally published by DK on September 25, 2020 at 10:48 pm
Small bets lead to small jackpotsOriginally published by DK on September 24, 2020 at 10:11 pm
And now it’s obvious what it fundsOriginally published by DK on September 24, 2020 at 10:05 pm
No winners @ Lucky’s 13Originally published by DK on August 15, 2020 at 11:57 am
The Orchid at Grand Casino Mille Lacs was hotOriginally published by DK on July 25, 2020 at 2:46 pm
Amazing what $1300 of coin-in will get youOriginally published by DK on July 8, 2020 at 10:41 am
I’ve been fortunate to continue working through the pandemic, but it’s been tough to take time away (especially since I’m the only IT person left). Thanks to the support of my boss and one of our awesome game day staffers, I was able to take a week off without looking at work email once. We originally intended to spend the week on Isle Royale National Park, but the ferry and Rock Harbor Lodge decided to scrap the whole 2020 season and our reservations were cancelled.
Plan B was to stay the first half of the week at Lutsen Resort and the Fourth of July weekend on Lake Vermilion (at Fortune Bay). Those plans changed as the temperatures kept rising – it was even hot along the usually cool shoreline of Lake Superior and we discovered upon check-in that Lutsen Resort does not have air conditioning. They were accommodating by offering us a full refund, but there were really no other options in Lutsen or the surrounding spots (Grand Marais, Tofte, Grand Portage). Fortune Bay could get us in early, so we set off on highway 1 through Ely and decided to spend the whole week on Vermilion.
Fortune Bay has done a nice job with COVID safety and procedures. They had temperature checks set up on the entry road, mandatory face masks and lots of signage, plexiglass and hand sanitizer. The casino floor had basically every other machine turned off, but they kindly turned on my favorite game for the week (big thanks to EJ). I think I made it worth their hassle, though, while still getting a lot of quality playing time. They had Frozen-themed giveaways on Thursday and Friday for 100 points earned (an Olaf waffle maker on day one and an Olaf snow cone maker on day two), so I spread my playing time out accordingly. Marisa really, really wanted these, so I was happy for the solid play-through.
Food options during the week were a little limited, but what was open was solid. We stopped at the Ely Steakhouse on the way over from Lutsen and they were following all of the state orders for in-person dining. On the other end of the spectrum, the Vermilion Club was following just about none of the rules, which blew us away (maybe “VC” really stands for Virus Central). We still ate there twice in-person and had take-out a third day, because Poor Gary’s pizza and the bleu cheese and chicken wings are Northland classics (hopefully we were personally careful enough).
Back at Fortune Bay, I hit the Wilderness Grill four times, having great experiences each time. The new chef used to work at Alma in Minneapolis and I really liked all of the sandwiches I tried (pulled chicken, walleye, porchetta and cheeseburger). Their new fries are reminiscent of the state fair classics. In the casino proper, we had a wonderful dinner at the Sunset Steakhouse and stopped several times at the Gold Mine Grill, which is getting better with service and staffing (they’ve always had great coffeeshop-style food options). The Tamarack Buffet was closed for service, but was the room was being used for socially-distanced overflow seating.
Thought I would play a lot of golf during the week, but the temperatures were warm and I just didn’t feel like going every day. I did drive down to Coleraine to play Eagle Ridge with the Millers and got in a twilight round on The Wilderness with John, Cathy and Bonnie. The whole region needs rain badly, so there were some near-dead areas on both courses (especially in the roughs). The Wilderness also has a lot of behind the scenes changes: the contract with KemperSports was not renewed and former golf GM Tom Beaudry and superintendent Vince Dodge have both moved on to the state of cheese. Still love that course, though, and it continues to be the one I’ve played the most.
It was also great to hang out at Dacha Batinich on Birch Point again with Mary and the crew. Big thanks to John and Cathy for taking us out on the boat for a pizza picnic (and for taking Sasha and Marisa out again later in the week). Skip-Bo games and great conversations make that little cabin a very special place indeed.Originally published by DK on July 5, 2020 at 5:09 pm
Fortune Bay’s Gold Mine GrillOriginally published by DK on July 4, 2020 at 7:12 pm
Can’t believe this game added the $50 level to my prizeOriginally published by DK on July 4, 2020 at 7:09 pm
Casino promos (100 points each)Originally published by DK on July 3, 2020 at 8:17 pm
Bay muffin at the Gold Mine GrillOriginally published by DK on July 3, 2020 at 6:05 pm
And I’m still down (but got my waffle maker)Originally published by DK on July 2, 2020 at 12:20 pm
And we like him tooOriginally published by DK on July 1, 2020 at 10:03 am
Totally worth the priceOriginally published by DK on July 1, 2020 at 9:49 am
Fortune Bay Resort CasinoOriginally published by DK on June 29, 2020 at 10:14 pm
An old Don Frantz favoriteOriginally published by DK on June 21, 2020 at 8:33 pm
Mystic Steakhouse is still rockin’ it during the pandemicOriginally published by DK on June 21, 2020 at 8:31 pm
Such pretty graphic designOriginally published by DK on June 19, 2020 at 1:55 pm
Happy anniversary, Minnesota LotteryOriginally published by DK on June 13, 2020 at 8:38 pm
First served meal in months, Minnehaha CafeOriginally published by DK on June 11, 2020 at 4:19 pm
Quick, fun stop at Grand CasinoOriginally published by DK on June 9, 2020 at 8:35 pm
Well done, Grand Casino – more fun than Mystic right nowOriginally published by DK on June 5, 2020 at 10:05 pm
Why the hate for the Orchid?Originally published by DK on June 4, 2020 at 9:00 pm
It was a pretty fun night @ MysticOriginally published by DK on March 9, 2020 at 2:39 am
First Avenue 50th scratcherOriginally published by DK on March 5, 2020 at 8:44 am
Getting closer to unlocking the secret of this damn gameOriginally published by DK on February 18, 2020 at 11:30 am
$50 scratcher (!)Originally published by DK on February 14, 2020 at 2:38 pm
Good night for fire progressivesOriginally published by DK on February 4, 2020 at 9:51 pm
I guess loser, loser doesn’t rhyme with dinner, eh?Originally published by DK on February 4, 2020 at 9:39 pm
Made $200 + free dinnerOriginally published by DK on January 8, 2020 at 8:24 pm