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Gaming and social media

5 June 2012

In today's social media environment, casinos and casino-related companies are trying as hard to connect with their customers as any other business.

Take the major slot machine manufacturers. WMS Gaming brings news and video presentations of its latest games to its Facebook page, as well as offering free games and interactions with game designers on its playerslife.com website and staying active on Twitter and YouTube. Bally Technologies is active in promoting its games on Twitter and YouTube, while among International Game Technology's offerings is DoubleDown Casino, the world's largest virtual casino on Facebook.

On the casino side, operators including Boyd Gaming, Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts maintain Facebook pages for each property, and most also have Twitter accounts so you can check out news and promotions at a glance at properties from Harrah's Atlantic City to Blue Chip in Michigan City, Ind., to Bellagio in Las Vegas, and points in between and beyond.

Sometimes, connecting with their guests via social media allow casino operators to go an extra mile. Last fall at the Global Gaming Expo, John Policicchio, digital marketing manager at MotorCity Casino Hotel in Detroit, told of one such opportunity.

"We had a woman who was pregnant in our hotel lobby who sent in a comment saying, 'I'm in the hotel lobby and they won't let me check in because the reservations under my fiancé's name,' and she was very grumpy," he said. "She wanted some ice water. We ran down to the lobby and gave her the ice water, and her jaw dropped."

The opportunities for instant promotions, special offers, and raising awareness of games and amenities are endless. What is not endless is the opportunity to play for money. Under current gaming law in the United States, that's not allowed.

You can play games for free on social sites. The big name is the DoubleDown Casino, which was acquired by IGT in January from Double Down Interactive. There are plenty of play options, including video poker, poker, blackjack, roulette or slots, including slot tournament play. When I signed up in May, I was given $1 million in credits, and you can add or lose to that virtual fortune as you play. Should you run low, you can buy credits, or earn them through actions such as signing up for a DVD club or making a monthly gift to the ASCPA.

In sampling the site, I started with a little Deuces Wild video poker. I choose a $200 credit value -- there were five levels ranging from $200 to $200,000 per credit. Clearly, I was going to need that $1 million bankroll. About 10 hands in, I was dealt two wild deuces, then drew another 2 and two 5s. That was five-of-a-kind, worth $15,000. A pop-up asked if I wanted to post my big hand on my Facebook page. I opted not to post -- whether you want to share advancements and achievements is up to you.

Afterward, I entered a Brady Bunch slot tournament and finished ninth, then had a pretty good blackjack session. At the end of an hour, I'd padded my original million by $115,074. A good day's virtual work.

New to the Facebook scene is RocketFrog, where you can play poker, video poker, slots, blackjack or roulette for fun, or play in poker, blackjack and slots tournaments for prizes. When I typed in "RocketFrog" on my Facebook page on May 26, I was taken to a free-play page where the prize of the day was a $5 gift card at Amazon.com. Different days bring different prize opportunities from different sponsors.

It's the brainchild of online and casino industry veterans Brett Calapp, Matthew Osborn and Uri Kozai. Tom Anderson, the co-founder and former president of MySpace.com is on the company's advisory board, and investors include TV personality Brody Jenner. RocketFrog plays to regularly introduce new games and mobile apps.

On most free-play sites, you're playing for medallions, or status increases that you can share with your friends by having the levels posted on your Facebook page. Prize availability makes RocketFrog different. Tournament play is available every day with small caps on the fields limiting the competition to 30 to 100 players. Play is also fast, from 2 to 5 minutes, meaning you can take multiple shots at earning the prize in a short time.

I took my shot at a RocketFrog slot tournament, and -- it was not my lucky day. I finished 10th in my field, and did not earn that Amazon gift certificate. But at no cost, it was a nice little diversion. I'll try again, and keep my eyes on the prize.

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Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski