Mr Lucky Fortune Cookie Slot Machine – Heidi Clemons and her husband Fred Clemons at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. The couple runs a YouTube channel called The Slot Cats, featuring videos of themselves playing slot machines. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Diana Evony, left, Heidi Clemmons and her husband, Fred Clemmons, talk to the Review-Journal at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. youtube channel. They have gained followers by posting videos of themselves playing slot machines in casinos. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
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Diana Evoni at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, Sunday, January 26, 2020. Evoni runs the YouTube channel Dianaevoni Vegas slot machine videos. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
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Casinos across the country have been shuttered for weeks, but that hasn’t stopped Joshua O’Connell and others from raking in the slot machine jackpot.
The Connecticut native takes time every day to watch YouTubers’ favorite slot machine, a growing Internet niche where creators film their own slots gameplay.
“You get that real moment of victory (in these videos),” O’Connell said. “I’m watching because I’m learning new things (with the slots) … and the personalities that come through, create channels. It’s a good thing in the day.”
O’Connell used to watch an average of four videos a day, but in recent weeks his viewing time has halved. New downloads have dropped significantly as YouTubers have lost the ability to create more content within casinos, resulting in a significant drop in viewership and paying for some.
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“We can empathize with those who have been laid off and are waiting to get back to work,” said Heidi Clemons, one half of the husband-and-wife duo behind The Slot Cats channel. “Our revenue is about two-thirds less than where it was a year ago.”
A growing community of slot-focused content creators are starting to monetize YouTube, posting videos of them risking—and sometimes winning—big bucks at casinos across the US.
When YouTuber Brian Christopher uploaded his first slot video four years ago – a rocking video titled “‘Recovery’ – Win Big at Vegas Slots! $3.75/Bet” inside the Paris Las Vegas and Planet Hollywood casinos on the Las Vegas Strip filmed—he expected a few views from friends.Instead, the video earned Christopher thousands of views and nearly 1,000 subscribers in just a week, launching his career as a full-time YouTuber.
“I didn’t expect these videos to blow up like they did,” said Christopher, a Canadian actor who drove for Lyft in Los Angeles before starting his channel.
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He had about 245,000 customers as of February, and the business was successful enough for him to sell merchandise — including leniers, rubber bracelets and signature headbands — and hire five employees.
While all commercial US casinos are temporarily closed, that hasn’t stopped Christopher and others from posting content, at least for now.
He said his team is shooting up to two months in advance and can maintain its normal release schedule until mid-May.
“We are happily working from home as advised and will also be hosting pre-recorded video premieres and live online streams,” Christopher said.
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Even when casinos were open, it wasn’t always easy to find a place to film. Casinos have a reputation for strict no-camera policies, but Christopher said that has begun to change in recent years.
“We slowly managed to convince them that promoting them was a good thing for them,” he said. “We’re now getting to the point where casinos are now finding us and approaching us.”
Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas vice president of slots, Kevin Sheerin said that he started working with the YouTube slot community in 2016. He has personal relationships with at least three YouTubers and encouraged them to film the slot back when the casino was open.
“It totally brought us new business (when the casino was open),” he said, adding that he’s lost count of how many times guests have asked where to find a slot machine, someone playing it on YouTube.
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Jonathan Jossel, CEO of the Plaza, told the Review-Journal that the downtown property has embraced the YouTuber community. He said the Plaza has seen an uptick in business and gained a stronger media presence after it began allowing them to film on the property.
“We will certainly continue to work with them,” Jossel said. “It will be important to communicate to them that, thanks to the extra precautions and efforts, casinos are open, fun and safe.”
Shirin agreed, saying that the industry is able to recover more quickly with more people promoting that casinos take the necessary measures to protect employees and guests.
“Every casino will certainly share with their guests the precautions they are taking, but those guests with great social media can only help capture those efforts and expand their reach,” Sweet said. “We certainly look forward to welcoming (social media influencers) along with our other guests.”
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YouTubers don’t disclose how much money they make from their channels in this article, but it’s profitable enough for many to quit their day jobs, even though they regularly spend a lot of money on casinos and travel expenses.
“It’s probably one of the most expensive channels you can run on YouTube because it’s such a losing sport,” Christopher said. “You lose tens of thousands of dollars a year gambling.” It took some time before we got income.”
A YouTube channel needs 4,000 watch hours and 1,000 subscribers in the last 12 months to enter the company’s affiliate program and monetize videos.
While the amount of money that videos earn per thousand ad views varies, some can reach thousands of dollars.
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Francine Marik, who runs the Lady Luck HQ channel, posted a video in January explaining how a viral slot video has racked up nearly 2 million views since September and earned her nearly $9,000. .
Many YouTubers have found other ways to make money. Some, like the user behind Sarah Slotlady, have a Patreon page that allows fans to pay $5 to $25 per month to feature slot games or access behind-the-scenes videos. Others, like Marik, offer merchandise. Her fans can purchase $16.99 Lady Luck HQ socks or a $14.99 mug with a cartoon image of her face.
He also offers fans a channel membership starting at $4.99 per month, which gives subscribers extra perks like special emojis they can use when commenting on his videos.
“It’s just a more social way to connect with your audience, but it’s also turning it into a business,” Marik said.
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But many slot YouTubers’ salaries have taken a hit in the wake of the shutdown, as they have to cut back on new videos.
Heidi Clemons said she had to reduce her posting schedule to three videos a week instead of seven.
March showings for The Slot Cats — run by Heidi Clemons and her husband, Fred Clemons — were down nearly 60 percent year-over-year, from 370,000 to 150,000.
In the coming weeks, the couple will face more challenges; The two decided to run out of unused videos for last week’s post.
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Heidi Clemons said finances would be more of a concern if she didn’t hit the $20,000 jackpot a week before closing.
Christopher said revenue from his videos has dropped by about 40 percent since the shutdown. He pointed to the decline in YouTube’s ad revenue, which would reduce the impact of his ad revenue decline.
According to a regulatory filing Wednesday from Alphabet, Google’s parent company, YouTube’s ad revenue growth was “somewhat offset” by a decline in revenue growth in March caused by the impact of COVID-19.
“There are no marketing dollars because no one can sell anything,” Christopher said. “However, I’m not going to complain. I can still make a profit and pay all my employees my regular wages.”
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It’s been about seven years since O’Connell first started watching slot videos. A lot has changed since the first days, he said, pointing to the increase in the number of content creators and the improvement of product quality.
A Reno-based YouTuber who goes by Diana Evoni said people are drawn to slot videos for a variety of reasons.
Some live miles from any casinos. Others don’t have the money to play but still want to feel the rush of hitting the jackpot. But most are just looking for entertainment.
Las Vegas resident Jim Hilliard watches at least one or two video slots every day. One of his favorite channels is Evoni’s – he pays for a subscription to the channel and said he and his wife plan to visit Reno at some point to test drive some of the cars featured in his videos.
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“It helped us figure out the places we like to play,” he said. “You feel like you’re one with the game and the player (in this video). … You learn from the videos, which really makes it interesting when