Offering free social games online may prove to be more lucrative to companies than real-money online gambling.
That possibility was recently explored by gaming columnist Howard Stutz in the Las Vegas Review Journal.
Revenues for online gaming in Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware—the three states that have approved online gambling—have been disappointing since online gambling began and moves to bring online gambling to more states appear to be slowing.
“Overall, recent data and news headlines have been almost uniformly negative for iGaming companies and near-term jurisdictional expansions,” Macquarie Securities gaming analyst Chad Beynon told Stutz. “Most states remain in the ‘wait and see mode.’ Despite this, companies remained optimistic around the business. However, a lack of progress keeps us concerned.”
Meanwhile, social gaming is flourishing, Stutz writes.
In social gaming, players pay small fees for tokens to play free games. Caesars Interactive Entertainment, a leading social gaming provider saw $115 million in revenue for the first quarter of 2014 and could see $500 million for the entire year, well ahead on online gaming numbers.
“Social gaming in the U.S. continues to grow while iGaming remains lackluster,” Beynon said.
MGM, for example, is looking to expand its online free play platform—which combines hotel rewards and specials with game play—while holding off on launching a real-money site in Nevada, Stutz writes.
Meanwhile, PlayStudios announced that it has expanded its MGM Resorts International rewards program for social game play to two Mississippi MGM properties, Beau Rivage in Biloxi and Gold Strike in Tunica.
California-based PlayStudios’ mobile and social casino slots game MyVegas gives real-world rewards such as comps for hotel stays in Las Vegas in partnership with MGM Resorts International, the owner of a host of casino and entertainment properties in Las Vegas and around the globe.
PlayStudios uses its popular free-to-play social-casino game to give real-world rewards to MGM customers, and now it will extend that same reward program to customers of Beau Rivage and Gold Strike.
With PlayStudios, the customers play a free-to-play casino game that does not constitute real-money gambling. Players can spend money in the game if they want, but they can’t cash out, except by winning partner rewards. Players can earn points in virtual slot games based on properties such as Mirage, Excalibur, New York-New York, Frontier Fortune, Pirate’s Cove and Luxor. Players try to win chips, loyalty points, status and real-world rewards.
“Our ability to offer players these new rewards, in new locations, represents an important next step in the evolution of the MyVegas experience,” said Andrew Pascal, founder and CEO of Playstudios. “It further demonstrates our commitment to rewarding virtual-world loyalty with real-world value.”
“The relationship between PlayStudios and MGM Resorts International has been tremendously successful in Las Vegas, and now we are able to expand this popular game and exciting rewards to our Southern customers as well,” said Tom Mikulich, senior vice president of business development for MGM Resorts International.