When slot machine YouTuber Brian Christopher told Plaza CEO Jonathan Jossel that he should launch his own slot room at the Plaza, he didn’t think the suggestion would be taken seriously.
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The social media influencer bounced the idea while recording an episode of the Plaza’s podcast, “On the Corner of Main Street,” with Jossel in September.
Turns out, Jossel liked the idea.
“I had an email the next day saying, ‘How do we make this happen?’” said Christopher, who has more than 500,000 online followers who watch him play slot machines around the world. “We went full-throttle with it.”
Four months later, “Brian Christopher Slots at the Plaza” is up and running. Industry watchers say the space follows a growing trend of separated slot areas and could help drive foot traffic in Las Vegas.
Drawing in visitors
The space, which opened Wednesday, is already bringing in more foot traffic to the Plaza.
The YouTuber said he has been running into fans “nonstop” since he got into town, including one couple who told him they canceled their hotel reservations at a Strip property to stay at the Plaza once they learned about the slot area.
Christopher expects the 850-square-foot slot area to continue to draw more visitors, especially younger players, to Las Vegas.
“Our No. 1 audience on Facebook are male millennials … in that 24- to 34-year-old range. And they’re loving what they’re seeing,” Christopher said. “If they see Brian playing at the Plaza in downtown Vegas, that’s exactly where they want to go when they come. They look to me to find out where they should be going.”
Rick Eckert, managing director of slot performance and analytics at Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, said Christopher can be viewed as the biggest independent casino host in the country.
“The amount of people he can reach by saying something positive about your casino or posting a big win can really be influential,” he said. “For somebody to brand an area of the floor dedicated to Brian Christopher and his YouTube channel, just seems like a great idea. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of these pop up.”
Joshua O’Connell, a 38-year-old subscriber from Connecticut, said he plans to visit the slot area on his next Las Vegas trip.
Each slot machine has a QR code that links to a video of Christopher playing the same game. O’Connell said such special touches bring back memories for him and thousands of others who have been following Christopher’s videos over the last four years.
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“It creates a connection between the slot machine and Brian’s moment and now your moment,” he said. “There’s that emotional connection to those stories. … When you watch people playing slots day after day, you get to know them. They become like a virtual friend.”
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A growing trend
The Plaza started forging connections with YouTubers about two years ago, after realizing the large audiences they draw. Jossel said that popularity has led to an”incredible” first two days for the slot area.
“He’s a star in that community, and I see it as a great way to partner as far as our brand and his brand coming together,” he said. “To give (his fans) a one-stop shop to play his game or run into him … it’s a natural fit. So far, it’s been a very, very encouraging two days.”
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Christopher showed off the area and its 16 slot machines on YouTube livestreams Wednesday and Thursday. He said his YouTube and Facebook picked up a combined 10,000 subscribers in those two days, and Wednesday was his “biggest livestream of all time.”
The space is the second themed slot room the Plaza has launched this year. The downtown hotel-casino also opened a nearly 3,000-square-foot space dedicated exclusively to Wheel of Fortune-themed slot machines this month.
“They seem to be in tune to what players like myself are into,” O’Connell said. “It’s interesting to see the Plaza taking some of these steps to offer something different.”
Eckert said these segmented slot areas are a growing trend that allow casino floors to better serve and communicate with players. Other examples include the Strat’s Link Slot Lounge or the Rampart Casino’s Buffalo Bar.
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“Players that are true gamblers and not just entertainment players really know what they’re looking for,” he said. “It just makes it easier to market to those players.”
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Contact Bailey Schulz at [email protected] Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter.