Rush Street Gaming owns casinos in three states: Illinois, Pennsylvania and soon to be open in New York. Richard Schwartz, a former executive at WMS Interactive, joined the company several years ago with the charge of creating an interactive division that would develop both social gaming and real-money iGaming. He spoke with GGB Publisher Roger Gros from his offices in Chicago in December.
Rush Street Gaming has been one of the most progressive gaming companies in the U.S. over the past five years. Tell us the role that the interactive division plays in the overall company strategy.
We identified the opportunity a couple of years ago to use online gaming as a complementary business to our land-based casinos to help branding and to drive additional traffic to our land-based casinos.
Has Rush Street used social casinos to stay in touch with its customers? How have you done that?
Yes, it has. Customers of our land-based casinos today have a wide range of entertainment options, so we wanted to identify ways to engage with them when they were away from our brick-and-mortar properties. We want our SugarHouse and Rivers casino brands to be top-of-mind for our players in the digital world.
We developed a proprietary interactive platform from the perspective of a land-based casino operator. We did this so we could reward the players who visit our land-based casinos most frequently. For example, our social site features a unique daily free promotional game such as wheel spins or free scratch cards. Every player is offered a chance to play one of these games daily. They win prizes that are only redeemable at the land-based property. With their loyalty card, they are able to visit the properties and redeem their prizes—free slot play, food coupons, tickets for events and more.
We also have something unique in our chat room. I’m not aware of many social casinos that have them, but people can chat with each other and become friends.
Despite not having a casino in New Jersey, you’ve got a real-money online gaming site in connection with your SugarHouse casino in Philadelphia. Tell us how that came about and who your land-based partner is in the state.
New Jersey was the first state to legalize online gaming with a meaningful population, so we felt it was a natural market for us. And although our brick-and-mortar SugarHouse casino is in Philadelphia, a large portion of our customers come from across the river in New Jersey. In fact, we’re closer to a lot of those online customers than Atlantic City casinos are. We reached an agreement with the Golden Nugget to use their license in New Jersey, and they’ve been a great partner so far.
Why did you want to open an online casino in New Jersey?
We saw the positive impact that online gaming has had on Atlantic City casinos, and we thought we could do the same with SugarHouse. It’s early (only a few months of activity), but the feedback has been tremendously positive. The players have really appreciated the unique selections. They’re quickly realizing the types of games and experiences we’re offering can’t be found anywhere else in the market. We’re finding it’s a great way to continue the play of our existing players and also a way to bring new players into SugarHouse.
It’s a very important aspect of online gaming and how to attract new players to your site. The affiliate channel is an excellent way for us to educate our players about all of our games, promotions and events. We offer affiliates the chance to grow their business in the United States.