Casinos all over the US have been shut down for several weeks now, but people are still making money and having fun online. People even set time aside in their daily routine to watch others on YouTube or live streaming platforms play their favorite games.
Joshua O’Connell from Connecticut is just one of the many people doing just that. He told Review Journal, “You get that authentic moment of the win (in these videos). I watch because I get to learn what’s new (with slots) … and the personalities coming through make the channels. It’s a nice pick-me-up in the day.”
With casinos shuttered, casino-related YouTube creators cannot put out regular videos, resulting in fewer views and less money from those videos. The impact on viewers has been immediate. O’Connell says that he previously could watch around four videos a day, but this has been halved over the past few weeks.
Heidi Clemons, who is one half of The Slot Cats channel, said, “We can empathize with those furloughed and waiting to return to work. Our income is down about two-thirds from where it was a year ago.”
Greater Casino Content
More people than ever are making money from posting YouTube videos relating to casino content. It’s not hard to find someone posting about how to win at slots or sharing their wins in their community.
Brian Christopher is just one example. He uploaded his first ever video on YouTube four years ago. Titled “’Lightning Strikes’ — HUGE WIN on Vegas Slots! $3,75/Bet,” Christopher took his casino adventure online. He played at the Paris Las Vegas and Planet Hollywood casinos in Vegas, expecting only a few friends to notice and watch online.
What actually happened is a different story. The video attracted thousands of views in the first week and gained around 1,000 subscribers, prompting him to launch his now full-time YouTube career. He was surprised that so many people took an interest in his video, saying, “I did not expect those videos to explode the way they did.”
As of February 2020, Christopher has grown his channel to amass 245,000 subscribers. His huge following has allowed him to sell his own merchandise and hire some employees to help grow his brand.
Even though land-based casinos have shut down for the time being, content creators like Christopher are still posting online.
“We are happily working from home, as is advised, and also hosting premiere lives of prerecorded videos and streaming live online slots,” Christopher says. His team ensures that he has two months worth of content scheduled in advance so he can continue on his regular schedule for a few months yet.
Filming in a casino has never been easy. They have mainly employed “no filming” policies to ensure the integrity of the games, but Christopher notes that they are starting to become more lenient.
“We’ve slowly been able to convince them that it’s actually a good thing for them for us to promote them,” he says. “We’re getting to the point now where casinos are now finding us and approaching us.”
Kevin Sweet, Vice President of Slots at The Cosmopolitan casino in Las Vegas, acknowledges that he has been working with YouTube gamers since 2016 and has forged personal relationships with a handful of them to the point where he has invited them back to film once casinos reopen.
“It absolutely brought us new business (when the casino was open),” observes Sweet. He also mentions that guests frequently ask to find and play the slots they saw someone play on YouTube.
Jonathan Jossel, CEO of the Plaza, one of the best properties in Vegas, says that they are also now benefiting from allowing people to film. He also thinks it’ll be really important for casinos once they are allowed to reopen.
“We will continue to work with them for sure,” Jossel notes. “Having them communicate that casinos are open, fun, and safe thanks to extra precautions and efforts is going to be important.”
This sentiment is shared by Sweet. He says that the casino industry, in general, will recover from the current pandemic with more people sharing reviews on how they are doing everything they can to protect workers and guests.
“Each casino will undoubtedly share with their guests the precautions they are taking, but those guests with a large social media following can only help to echo those efforts and broaden its reach,” Sweet says. “We, of course, look forward to welcoming (the social media influencers), along with the rest of our guests.”
A Lucrative Career
YouTube stars don’t tend to share how much money they make from their videos, but it must be lucrative enough for them to quit their regular jobs. For casino YouTubers, this becomes important as they often spend vast amounts of money in the properties and on travel.
“It’s probably one of the most expensive channels you can run on YouTube because it’s a losing sport,” Christopher says. “You lose tens of thousands of dollars a year gambling. It took a while before we became profitable.”
YouTube has some criteria to meet before you can start monetizing videos. Specifically, a channel must have at least 1,000 subscribers and have 4,000 hours of watch time in the last 12 months.
Francine Maric, owner of Lady Luck HQ, did share with her followers how much she made from a video – nearly $9,000.
YouTubers use their platform to generate revenue in other ways. Some like to use a Patreon page where fans can pay a monthly fee to suggest things they’d like their favorite creators to do. Others, like Maric, offer merchandise. You can buy Lady Luck HQ t-shirts from her online shop, and more.
Maric also gives fans the option to join her channel membership. This gives her fans extra perks, including being able to comment with exclusive emojis on her videos.
She says, “It’s just a more social way to connect with your audience, but also turn it into a business.”