Bally’s Enters the Play-Money Social Casino Space With Bally Play

Bally’s is broadening its online horizons by introducing a free-to-play social casino to complement its real-money iGaming operations. It announced the launch of Bally Play on June 4 in partnership with Ruby Seven Studios.

Bally Play went live with a selection of 150 games. The catalog includes play-money versions of several popular titles you’ll see on the floor of real-life retail casinos, such as Rakin’ Bacon. Some, like Lightning Shenlong, also appear for real-money play on Bally Casino.

Real-money online casinos are only legal in six states, and Bally Casino operates in half of those: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

By contrast, social casinos are legal throughout the US, albeit with a few restrictions. Bally Play users in Washington State won’t be able to purchase chips, though they can earn them in other ways.

Bally Play offers an in-browser option or downloads for iOS and Android. Because it’s not real money gambling, there are no identity verification hurdles to jump through on sign-up. In fact, users can start playing immediately and register later, keeping whatever chips they’ve won in the meantime. Bally Play offers bonus chips to incentivize players to register their accounts by linking them to their Facebook profiles.

Most US Omnichannel Operators Have Social Products

The pace of iGaming expansion in the US has been slow. However, the gambling industry is hopeful about its future prospects.

Launching social products is one way that operators prepare for the eventual legalization of real-money online casinos. These free-to-play products allow them to build a database of potential customers ahead of time. In the meantime, the social products allow cross-marketing opportunities with the companies’ retail properties.

Other play money social casinos affiliated with omnichannel operators include:

  • Caesars Slots
  • MGM Slots & MGM myVegas
  • Wind Creek Casinoverse
  • Rivers Casino4Fun
  • Penn Play Casino
  • Stardust Social Casino

DraftKings and FanDuel haven’t bothered, but that’s because their DFS products serve a similar function. FanDuel has also invested in FanDuel Faceoffa free-to-play skill gaming product with a real money wagering option.

Pure-play social casino operators like Zynga, DoubleDown, and VGW faced a series of class-action lawsuits at one point. However, the changes these companies agreed to make to their apps as part of their settlements have become industry standards. Significantly, new social casinos like Bally Play don’t allow players to reach a state where they would need to purchase chips to continue playing. There’s always a way to keep playing for free—returning to the lobby will award the player just enough coins for one more spin.

Real money operators have shied away from adding a sweepstakes layer to their social products. Bally’s is no exception. So, unlike sites such as Chumba CasinoBally Play doesn’t offer the chance to win cash prizes.

Bally Play is Heavy on Retention Features

Because play chips don’t cost the operators anything, social casinos are generous with their bonuses.

Bally Play showers new guests with free chips on arrival and more each day they return. Level-ups are frequent and come with additional free chips.

The ability to purchase even more chips does create monetization for Bally’s, as does the option to watch ads for free chips. But monetization probably isn’t the main point—organic marketing is.

Sina Miri, Bally’s Chief Product Officer, said:

As part of our growth strategy, we have been seeking to complement our brick-and-mortar and interactive gaming offerings with a social casino. Working with Ruby Seven Studios has allowed us to create a unique, best-in-class social casino experience for our existing players and can help us attract new players.

The game encourages users to boost Bally’s brand on Facebook. It offers 500,000 chips to link their Facebook accounts, after which users can exchange “gifts” with friends for even more chips.

Maintaining player interest is the key to reaping that ongoing value. Daily login rewards are part of that. So are the game’s social lounges, weekly leaderboards, and continuous unlocking of new games through level-ups.

Bally Play will also feature its own loyalty program with “Bally Points,” though these aren’t available quite yet. They’ll be distinct from the Bally Rewards program shared by the company’s retail and real-money online casinos. It doesn’t look as if there will be any possibility of sharing points between the two systems.

About the Author

Alex Weldon

Alex Weldon

Alex Weldon is an online gambling industry analyst with nearly ten years of experience. He currently serves as Casino News Managing Editor for Bonus.com, part of the Catena Media Network. Other gambling news sites he has contributed to include PlayUSA and Online Poker Report, and his writing has been cited in The Atlantic.
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