Social media influencers are steadily becoming more prevalent in casino gaming. The best recent example of this trend is a slot machine called Pop’N Pays More featuring the likeness of YouTube personality Brian Christopher at the Plaza, the Palms and M Resort in Las Vegas.
While Pop’N Pays More has immediately become a big draw, the intersection of these spaces is controversial. The furor accompanying online personalities’ involvement in slots marketing came to a head at a recent video game trade fair. As reported by Gambling News, a physical altercation broke out over a gambling-related argument at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany.
The scuffle, involving well-known streamers Tanzverbot, Orangemorgange and Scurrows, stemmed from Tanzverbot’s criticism of streamers who promote gambling products.
Before considering what comes next in the growing overlap between influencers and the casino industry, it is worth unpacking the details of both the rise of Pop’N Pays More and the fight that broke out at Gamescom.
Pop’N Pays More Enjoying Immediate Success
Pop’N Pays More, from Vegas-based Gaming Arts, launched in Vegas in July. Machines running the game are now present at 17 gambling venues in four states. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, some are producing revenue that’s several times the average at those casinos.
The success of Pop’N Pays More has a lot to do with the popularity of “slots influencer” Christopher. His YouTube channel has drawn more than 300 million views worldwide. In addition to the current Pop’N Pays More locations in Nevada, Arizona, California and Oklahoma, more are coming in Louisiana, Minnesota and Colorado. Gaming Arts has also announced that the game will soon be available on several Carnival cruise ships.
The success of Pop’N Pays More is probably only the beginning. Looking at the fast-growing popularity of the first few Christopher-branded machines and how quickly Gaming Arts has moved to install more, it’s hard to imagine the industry stopping there.
Will Casino Floors Soon be Filled With Influencer Likenesses?
Time will tell how far the trend spreads. While there are many gambling personalities on social media, not many have followings like Christopher’s.
Lady Luck is another prominent “slot influencer” who regularly uploads videos of herself at slot machines around the country. Her subscriber count currently sits at 251,000, less than half of Christopher’s 536,000. That gap shows the popularity advantage “America’s No. 1 Slot Influencer” holds over his competitors. Still, the existence of multiple personalities with six-figure follower counts shows the market for such content is robust.
To date, no influencer-branded titles have appeared at online casinos. But the success of Pop’N Pays More could mean it’s a matter of time before studios or the influencers themselves push for them. After all, social media is, by its nature, an online product.
A Recipe for Controversy
The list of YouTube slot influencers with global followings may still be short in 2022. However, the video game streaming platform Twitch has produced countless online celebrities with legions of devoted fans. Among those influencers, there’s a sharp split in opinion on what types of products they should be willing to promote.
In large part, that’s because the Twitch audience skews even younger than other social media platforms. Twitch is owned by Amazon, whose own practices are as controversial as the company is successful. Between that and a Twitch audience of over 100 million unique visitors per month, it feels inevitable that this issue will continue to rise in attention and importance.
It might not always come to blows as it did at Gamescom. But one way or another, it’s a debate that will continue at future gatherings of the community.
It’s difficult to predict whether gambling streams on platforms like Twitch will remain legal or if banning them would be effective. Governments still struggle to form coherent policies around digital phenomena like video game loot boxes and cryptocurrency. Gambling on Twitch will be no different.
One thing that’s for sure is that this subject is not going anywhere. Christopher’s success shows how much money can be made by combining social media culture and gambling. At the same time, the Gamescom incident highlights how controversial it is, both from a regulatory standpoint and among the top celebrities themselves.