In the world of slot media personalities, there is plenty of diversity in personality. Gaming America spoke with Brian Christopher, YouTuber and Founder of his self-titled slot machine brand, and Josh Duffy, the man behind the Slotaholic YouTube channel. While both slot enthusiasts have plenty in common – regarding their passion and personability – the differences were more noticeable. Christopher spoke to us from a professional studio set-up (complete with a pro-gamer chair) from his home office in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, Duffy, fresh from a paid-for visit to Las Vegas, was busy setting up his retail store in New Orleans for Mardi Gras festivities as we talked.
A huge part of Duffy’s charm and burgeoning YouTube subscriber base is tied to his aura of informality. Christopher shares this a little but has also leveraged his explosion in popularity to tackle some serious issues.
As an official advocate for American Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR) and supporter of Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE), Christopher has spearheaded efforts to eliminate smoking in casinos. Christopher said that, coming from Canada, he was shocked to find that smoking was still legal in so many US casinos.
He tells Gaming America: “It was kind of disgusting – I go into the casinos as much
as I have to for work. It was definitely having an effect on my health and my staff’s health. I just couldn’t understand and I did a lot of research on it. We’re down to only 13% of the US population smoking right now, so why is it so prominent in casinos?
BC Slots is available in about 35 casinos and three cruise ships and it is up to gaming arts to sell the games.
Brian Christopher, BC Slots Founder
"There’s really a big myth and belief that gamblers are all smokers or smokers are all gamblers. It’s just not true so I’m trying to prove that theory. The facts are facts and so I decided, as of this year, to strictly promote smoke-free casinos.”
Christopher has backed the courage of his convictions and launched an exclusive, smoke-free, Brian Christopher Slots space in the Plaza Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas. This may be one of the strongest demonstrations of the power a YouTube influencer can have over land-based casinos. The expansion of Christopher’s pre-existing curated slot machine space involves growing its number of titles from 25 to over 85; this will be the first entirely smoke-free gaming area in Downtown Las Vegas. The slots influencer spoke about his Plaza endeavor and how he hopes it will influence other land-based operators in Las Vegas. He said: “I’m sure lots of downtown casino properties are going to be watching to see the success of this, to see how it goes. I’m really eager to showcase this.”
On February 13, Christopher took his concerns to the New Jersey Statehouse where he conducted a testimonial in front of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. Here he made his view on smoking in casinos abundantly clear, lamenting the practice and stating: “Without a change in state law, I will not be visiting Atlantic City casinos, or using my platform to promote the otherwise fantastic entertainment experience they provide. While this means turning down some business opportunities, I believe in this cause – and my business continues to thrive."
Meanwhile, Duffy has been running his business Bourbon Pride for 12 years now, raising money for local charities and social causes that are close to his heart. The shop offered hundreds of dollars to unemployed people at the height of the pandemic, through charity raffles. At the time, Duffy said: “I just know that any financial help is going to move someone during these times. It’s going to be such a great joy to see people receive the money and the blessing they need.”
Duffy and his partner, Joseph, say they love to regularly donate to local animal shelters such as Zeus Rescue and Metairie Small Kittens, as well as local LGBT groups and charities. He notes that YouTube channels are most beneficial in a philanthropic sense when they are able to livestream from retail locations. However, he has rarely been able to shoot live so has had to put this on the back-burner for now; Harrah’s New Orleans is a six-block walk from his home, but he’s only able to shoot there once a month. Duffy remarks: “Should Harrah's New Orleans allow me to film more frequently, I would certainly include more live streams – which I believe would benefit my channel’s visibility.”
HUMBLE BEGINNINGS, BUT WHERE NEXT?
Before Duffy was being whisked off for an all-expenses-paid trip to Las Vegas by Jackpot Party Casino, he was just another YouTube content creator, one among millions. But, as the author Haruki Murakami once said, “you have to start somewhere. Perfection doesn’t happen right away.”
Over the past five years, growing followers was never of paramount importance to Duffy. He believes he’s enjoyed growth that has been slow and steady with "speedy momentum scattered throughout each year." He followed the main tenet all social media influencers must abide by – be eminently watchable and forge a hardcore base of fans. He says Slotaholic has been a learning journey, giving him the chance to gain new editing skills and build authentic relationships with his clientele. His immediate dreams remain modest, as he desires to collaborate with fellow content creators, travel to more popular casinos across the country that remain unvisited by Slotaholic and 'continue to grow organically.'
Despite the inherent informality that comes with Duffy, there is no doubt he possesses an entrepreneurial spirit, having run Bourbon Pride for over a decade. As he says, “I’m going to move forward with this as a business because I was already a business owner. I thought it’d be fun if I approached it like a brand, so ‘Sip, Spin and Win’ was born right away.” Duffy emphasizes that he always knew Slotaholic would be best approached as a brand rather than a hobby.
Christopher is undeniably business-savvy, having founded BC Ventures as the business-facing side of his operations. He says: “BC Ventures in the coming years involves a lot more expansion. One area we want to branch out into is the digital world, maybe with more of our slot machines or promoting more digitally as well. Our merchandise has always done really well, so we want to keep growing on that side of things.”
However, Christopher knows he remains a YouTuber first and foremost and he doesn’t expect his viewers to engage with BC Ventures. He remarks: “They just need to know BC Slots because that’s what they’re watching. BC Ventures is not fan-facing and our fans don’t need to know what it is.” His focus is on being the face of his brand (quite literally when looking at the BC Slot machines, on which his face is plastered).
Keeping in mind his duties as a media personality, Christopher leaves the operational side of BC Slots to the company’s partner Gaming Arts, the manufacturer of the slot. BC Slots is available in about 35 casinos and three cruise ships. It is up to Gaming Arts to sell the games, lease them and have discussions with the casinos; Brian says he has "no part in that.” He wants BC slots to be ‘everywhere’ but is uninvolved in the process of vying for approval from gaming commissions.
I’m more here to educate the players and say, ‘Hey, this is realistic. I’m no different than you.’ Is it about luck? Maybe, but it’s really about timing.
Josh Duffy, Founder of Slotaholic
HERALDING A NEW AGE OF SLOTS
There exists a preconception of the average slot player that is rather unflattering. As Christopher says: “The stereotype is that slot players are always little old ladies.” But he argues that the slot machine industry has successfully been targeting the 20-30-year-old demographic and the new generation of slot players will be younger than the previous one.
Christopher comments: “Casinos have become a lot more hip these days, they’ve gotten much better. I mean, the concert venues for one, just to get people in there. The food options are incredible these days and all the other amenities they have. They’re definitely trying to target the younger generations.” He says his fans lean toward ‘Mailie Meloy’ (a popular author among millennials) and that casinos will be targeting this same audience. Christopher wants to highlight the most fun aspects of playing slots and dispose of the ‘little old lady’ stereotype when it comes to slot machine fans.
Duffy takes his responsibility as an influencer seriously, saying that his focus is always on educating his audience about slots. He adopts a practical approach to gambling, as he outlines here: “I’m a sponge, so I learn games, I don’t forget the symbol or forget the top pay symbol. There’s a symbol at the bonus features now and I get very analytical with my content.”
The Slotaholic Founder also wants to pass on this ‘slot-savviness’ to his subscribers. He points to his videos on the 7 Up Challenge and 100 spins, which have a heavy element of information sharing in them, with Duffy providing tricks and tips on-screen and showing what the most recent trends look like. This means players have a better understanding of what the true potential of a game is.
Duffy comments: “A lot of influencers will post just their big wins or their jackpots; I’m friends with those people and it hurts my soul sometimes when we go out gambling because they’re just looking for the next big win to share on YouTube. I’m more here to educate the players and say, ‘Hey, this is realistic. I’m no different than you.’ Is it about luck? Maybe, but it’s really about timing.” Duffy tells Gaming America that if he was to have an ‘influencer legacy’ it would be as the YouTube channel that a younger generation of slot gamblers can rely on for educational purposes.
When meeting fans he likes to gain feedback to see if this is indeed the case: “They say they watched the channel, so I ask ‘what do you think about my 100 Spins videos? What do you think about the stats I’m providing?’ They have no quarrel with it. They appreciate that I do that and they enjoy seeing that someone actually takes some time and dives into the methodical side of things.”
‘Methodical’ may not be the first adjective that springs to mind when you think about slot social media influencers but there is no doubt that this sector, while niche, is a ripe one for the business-minded. As Christopher’s appearance at the New Jersey Statehouse attests to, popularity on social media can translate into real power in influencing the gambling industry at large.