MGM Resorts breaks new ground with online slot tournaments through easyPLAY
August 02, 2016 3:01 AM
by Dave Dye
When the typical obsessed mobile-phone user is walking with their eyes totally focused on the device in their hand, the assumption is they’re probably tweeting, reading text messages, sending photos on Instagram or, yes, playing Pokemon GO.
However, if they’re inside one of MGM’s nine casino properties in Las Vegas, there’s one more option to consider these days: They could be playing in a slot tournament.
A joint venture between MGM Resorts and oneLIVE Inc., a mobile gaming tech company based here in Vegas, recently launched a gambling-on-the-go device that can be used only at ARIA Resort & Casino, Bellagio, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, The Mirage, Monte Carlo, Luxor, New York-New York and Excalibur.
It’s called “easyPLAY Mobile Tournaments,” the first of its kind to be offered by a regulated casino in the United States, and can be played on personal mobile devices.
No longer are you tied to gambling on the casino floor. Now you can be lying poolside, relaxing in your hotel room or even sitting on the toilet.
More ways to win or lose? It depends on whether you’re the wallet-half-full or half-empty type of person.
To Michael Jabara, the president and CEO of oneLIVE, it’s a way “to liberate” hotel guests and allow them to be “wherever they want to be as opposed to where they had to be.”
“The casinos are increasingly becoming aware that they need to have products that appeal to people who are more mobile,” said Jabara, who started his company about 4½ years ago. “You just have to walk down the street to see people glued to their phones regardless of whether they’re 26 or 56.”
It’s been more than two weeks since MGM and oneLIVE, announced this new platform. Other casino companies are likely to try to cash in on the opportunity in the near future.
“It’s gotten a lot of interest,” Jabara said. “It has a novelty factor that people have been attracted to. We think it appeals to people that aren’t necessarily traditional slot or table-game players. We’re looking to deploy it with other casino groups and other jurisdictions.”
OneLIVE describes its goal as the following: “To become the real money mobile gaming powerhouse in the U.S., on the high seas and in the air.”
The deal with MGM has put them on that track.
The signature game currently up and running at MGM is the “All Summer Long, Winner Takes All, Progression Slot Tournament” that runs into early September. Anyone paying the $5 entry fee, which can be done using a credit or debit card, spins to win a minimum grand prize of $10,000. The amount will increase based on the number of entries.
Other daily tournaments also are available. Players log on through MGM’s Wi-Fi. Updated leaderboards can be found while playing the game. After the tournament ends – many of them run 14-hour cycles – the player will receive an email confirming where they are ranked in the final standings and what they’ve won. They can pick up their prize at any of the casino cages. Go to http://www.easyplay.vegas/ for the tournament schedule and more details.
While slots is the main focus right now, poker, bingo and other popular games also will be available. Jabara is banking on his product receiving a similar reaction to mobile games such as “Candy Crush Saga” and “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood Game,” which have attracted large audiences.
“That’s the kind of person we’re trying to appeal to,” he said.
Eventually, the hope is the Gaming Control Board gives approval for these types of games to be wagered on outside of the casino environment, too.
The tournament format in which guests from all nine MGM properties are pitted against each other “brings a competitive element to the experience,” Jabara said.
Live slot tournaments have been extremely popular around casinos for years. Although the entry fees are currently low on easyPLAY, Jabara envisions a day when those amounts start to go up significantly.
“It has the potential to be just as big as a live tournament,” he said. “With more and more players, you can offer bigger and bigger prizes.”
Jabara promises to always keep some inexpensive tournaments, which are especially nice for beginners, but he thinks the $3,000, $5,000 and $10,000 buy-ins could be coming once customers gain trust in the operation.
“Put up $5,000 and walk away after a weekend with a million bucks,” Jabara said. “That’s kind of where we think it could be headed.”