Brian Christopher wanted to be an actor. Okay, he was an actor in his native Toronto, and he probably could have stayed north of the border and carved out a career in the Canadian film and stage industry.
He performed on stage from 11 to 19 before making the transition to TV, film and commercials. But he set his sights on Los Angeles. And eventually, like so many other actors who relocated to L.A., he took a trip to Las Vegas, where he shot his first videos of him playing slot machines.
For three days in April of 2016, Christopher video taped the ups and downs of his investment in the slots and uploaded them onto his acting YouTube channel.
“When I first started filming my gameplay, I had no idea what I was doing,” he says. “You can barely hear me. The videos were super shaky with no tripod. I didn’t seek any permissions at the beginning. I just pulled out my cell phone and filmed my slot machine play. Casinos like Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas and San Manuel Casino (now Yaamava) were camera friendly and had an open filming policy. Definitely not as strict there as with other states for sure.”
Sometime in the next few weeks, the shaky videos people could barely hear morphed into quite an unexpected sensation. When he saw the demand, Christopher returned to production on May 13.
Let that be a lesson: you never know what can come out of any idea, no matter how poorly implemented.
To be fair here, Christopher was not totally clueless. He knew something about editing from his years in the profession in Canada. Still, he never expected the reaction from the public. Or that he would make a career and an industry out of the videos. “What started as an innocent way to share a fun Vegas gambling session, quickly turned into a full-time job with 10 employees as people wanted more excitement and content. Never in a million years had I any plans to make this a career.”
Nor did he expect to become a social influencer.
“Social influencers are nothing new, and are used in every category of business, with no exception to casinos,” Christopher says.
He found an apt definition online: “A social media influencer is a user on social media who has established credibility in a specific industry. These content creators have access to a large audience and can share information to persuade others through their authenticity and reach.”
That’s Christopher all right. And his reach is rather large.
“I have been posting slot videos for seven years online now and have amassed over 1.5 million subscribers, gaining over 5 million unique viewers each month, and am close to hitting a billion views online,” he says. “We now plan every visit with care alongside the casinos in every jurisdiction to ensure we follow their rules.”
Christopher credits his authenticity for the positive reaction he’s garnered. “I was not putting on a show, but rather experiencing slots and casinos on my own, and as an influencer, my followers were enjoying that experience through my eyes.”
Gambling wins and losses aside, the income from the content is accrued mostly through ads that run adjacent to the videos, and also from sponsors, much like other creators across non-gaming industries.
And of course, one of the side benefits to being a social influencer is he gets to be a voice for change.
“I encourage all my viewers to practice responsible gambling while using an entertainment budget,” Christopher says. “I do this also by showing all of my wins AND losses, which in turn makes me more credible as I win and lose just as much as your average Joe.”
Another cause of his is the opposition to smoking in casinos, and he recently lent his voice in the legislative battle in New Jersey over smoking on the casino floor in Atlantic City. “We strictly promote smoke-free properties, as I feel strongly about this,” he says. “We are well past the time that smoking should be allowed indoors. It’s illegal in every other building, so why would the lives of the staff or patrons at casinos be worth any less? There is one point where I wish to use my ‘influence’ for good.”
A lot of his fans thank him for taking a stand, Christopher says. He previously told <i>CDC Gaming Reports</i>, “Someone needs to do something, because everyone’s fed up with it. A lot of people just feel like they just don’t have a choice. They can drive five or six hours to a smoke-free casino or go to their local, which is 15 minutes away, and suffer through it.
“We’re at a point where only 12-1/2 percent of the country smokes. It no longer makes sense, and it can no longer be the argument that (casinos) will lose money because (of smoking bans). The majority should be ruling here.”
Where does Christopher go with his videos?
He has his own branded slot machine, “Brian Christopher’s Pop’ N Pays,” developed by Gaming Arts. The Plaza Casino in Las Vegas also created the new “Brian Christopher Slots at Plaza,” the first smoke-free gaming area in downtown Las Vegas. He also has a relationship with Carnival Cruise Line, with a cruise to Australia this Fall.
Then there’s the Rudies, the 3,500-member fan club.
“We just announced Rudies 4-day Fan Club appreciation event and already sold out of the first two blocks of tickets with a third block now on sale,” Christopher says.
He just celebrated his lucky seventh anniversary by hosting a $70,000 Live Stream across Facebook and YouTube at Yaamava, where he shot some of his earliest videos.
“I never intended to shelve my acting career,” he says. “Instead of entertaining in the cinemas, I’m doing it to a larger audience online, so it’s not a bad deal.”