NIGA Tradeshow: Influencers can generate buzzworthy events for casinos

July 22, 2021 6:25 PM
  • Rege Behe, CDC Gaming Reports
July 22, 2021 6:25 PM
  • Rege Behe, CDC Gaming Reports

Brian Christopher and Lucky Lady HQ are sought-after casino guests.

Story continues below

They aren’t whales who gamble enormous amounts of money or valued patrons who frequently visit properties.

Christopher and Lady Luck – whose real name is Francine Maric – bring something equally, if not more valuable, to casino properties.

“They’ve got a lot of followers, they’re interactive, they’re talking to people, and most importantly for casinos, they’re gamers,” said Justin Shank, owner of Shank Marketing Services Wednesday during the panel discussion “The Marketing of Influence” at the Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention in Las Vegas. “They’re people who play casino games, with people interacting with them, watching them.”

Christopher’s YouTube channel has more than 407,000 subscribers, known as Rudies, who watch him play slots at the more than 100 casinos he’s visited. When he started five years ago, Christopher had to beg casinos to permit him to film live events

“More and more, they’re reaching out to us,” he said, noting casinos now help him set up livestreams, meet-and-greets, and other events at their properties. “We just work with them on whatever their needs are to make sure they’re comfortable with what we’re doing.”

Maric quit her day job in April 2021 to devote herself fulltime to her Lady Luck HQ channels on YouTube and Instagram. A high-stakes player, her average bet range is $50-$100. Maric’s audience is 70 percent male and between 21 and 60 years old, with 50 percent from countries outside the U.S.

“I’m super-excited about it,” Maric said.

Shanks says the most popular influencers, including Christopher and Maric, can command fees between $5,000 and $20,000, to appear at a property. That might seem like an exorbitant amount of money to watch someone play a slot machine (Maric sometimes plays table games), but Shank says the content that influencers produce on their channels essentially stays online forever.

“It’s the same as if you’re hosting a comedian or any other type of entertainment on site,” Shank said. “This is an entertainment value you’re adding to your property floor. It’s kind of the marriage between influencers as an advertising element and as well as a promotional element for the property, one that will directly equate to bigger numbers on the gaming floor while they’re there.”

Last August, as gaming operators were reopening properties after being closed during the COVID pandemic, Christopher appeared at one of Shank’s client casinos. As soon as he entered the casino, Christopher drew a huge crowd.

“We’ve become so popular that when we do livestreams, so many fans rush to the casino, we actually do viewing parties now in the casino in a separate room with big screens,” Christopher says, noting his meet-and-greets often attract 200 fans, with more trying to get in.

Moderator Julia Carcamo, president of the casino marketing and consulting agency J. Carcamo and Associates, said because many influencers will sign up devotees through their own channels, they can provide the names of fans, and perhaps player card numbers, to gaming operators.

“You can immediately create a group to start tracking (players),” she said. “My recommendation would be to have ambassador cards and to be ready to card people you may not have information on. It’s a very trackable investment.”

Influencers also can pay dividends through social media campaigns. Shank says hosting casinos can create a buzz via Facebook, Instagram or other channels prior to appearances of popular and photogenic influencers such as Christopher or Maric.

The other good thing about influencers it that, unlike a band or comedian, they don’t need a lot of equipment or personnel.

“They’ve got their own camera equipment, they’ve got their people, and they’ve got their own style,” Shank says. “Everybody has their own way of doing things. Being self-contained means you have to put less people on the floor. It’s not a like a big concert where you have to staff it up massively.”