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Hashtag Heaven

The complex world of social media

Hashtag Heaven

As an older person (#ancient), I’m pretty proud of keeping up with this social media stuff. We were the first gaming publication—online or off—to offer podcasts, and just marked 10 years of recordings (#listennow), all available on our GGB News website (#ggbnews.com).

But podcasts really aren’t “social media.” It is media, but not really social. For that, we have multiple Twitter feeds for all our important products (#globalgamingbiz), several Facebook pages for the same products (but I do not have a personal page—#leavemealone), and LinkedIn discussion groups that have over 5,000 members each (#casinoexecs).

But frankly, it took me a while to figure out how this “trending” thing works. You know, that list of subjects somewhere at the top of each page preceded by a #hashtag that people are talking (or tweeting or twerking, whatever) about. It probably took me longer to figure it out because my topics are never trending! Unless it’s a sports topic, which I comment upon once in a while. (#lebron, you know who you are!)

So to make up for that shortfall, here’s a list of topics that I do comment upon, freed up from the 140-character handcuffs that are Twitter. #socialgaming.

Who would have ever thought that people would pay good money for worthless chips, just to see their names at the top of some stupid internet game leader board? Yeah, this started with those “Farmville”-style games and soon morphed into “real” casino games. But it’s not gambling, the operators tell us, because the players get nothing for their play. Except for maybe a free buffet, points credited to their player’s club accounts, and massive email marketing campaigns aimed at making them gamble real money. (#areyoukiddingme?)

#iGaming. OK, if #socialgaming is trending up, #iGaming is trending down. People no longer are interested in online gaming because the numbers coming out of New Jersey, the largest of the three states to legalize iGaming, have been so anemic. But those numbers have only been anemic if compared to the sky-high predictions from operators, analysts and even Governor Chris Christie. (#bridgegate was just the start.)

#regulatoryreform. Just got back from Vancouver and the conference for the International Association of Gaming Advisors (#IAGA), where I rubbed elbows with some of the most progressive regulators and ex-regulators in the business. These are people who understand that regulation does not have to be draconian, and that regulators and operators can actually work together for the betterment of the industry. Sometimes, however, those relationships can be too close (#californiacrapshoot).

#macaudisaster. In May, I visited Macau for the first time since revenues started to fall, and I was shocked at the lack of business. On a Saturday night, where a year ago there were five deep around almost every table, there were dead games and very little excitement. The crackdown of the Chinese government on corruption has so scared every player that they’re not likely to return until the government sends a clear signal that the crackdown is over, or at least winding down (#violatorsexecuted).

#ACupturn. I’m headed back to Atlantic City for the summer, where last year it seemed I was called to the Boardwalk by some broadcast media team every day to comment on the latest casino closure. It made for a depressing summer for me, but a disastrous summer for those who lost their jobs. Has that trend reversed itself? Probably not until a decision is made on adding North Jersey casinos to the already-saturated market (#stupidpoliticians).

#Americangaming. It’s been 20 years since the American Gaming Association was formed. I’ve worked very closely with this group right from the start (#officialmagazine) and thought that the departure of original president Frank Fahrenkopf couldn’t be good. But after a rough start, the new guy Geoff Freeman has come out fighting for the industry, and has been very effective in almost every situation (#aggressive).

#sportsbetting. So the NFL uses its influence to cancel a fantasy sports convention because it is being held in a casino (since when is the Sands Expo Center a casino?) but not because fantasy sports is really gambling? Adam Silver, please call Roger Goodell to explain how ridiculous this looks. (#areyoukiddingme2?)

OK, now what can you tell me about Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Vine….(#confused).

Roger Gros is publisher of Global Gaming Business, the industry's leading gaming trade publication, and all its related publications. Prior to joining Global Gaming Business, Gros was president of Inlet Communications, an independent consulting firm. He was vice president of Casino Journal Publishing Group from 1984-2000, and held virtually every editorial title during his tenure. Gros was editor of Casino Journal, the National Gaming Summary and the Atlantic City Insider, and was the founding editor of Casino Player magazine. He was a co-founder of the American Gaming Summit and the Southern Gaming Summit conferences and trade shows. He is the author of the best-selling book, How to Win at Casino Gambling (Carlton Books, 1995), now in its fourth edition. Gros was named "Businessman of the Year" for 1998 by the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce, and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Gaming Association in 2012.

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