Is 888's Decision To Promote Its Online Brand In Pennsylvania A Wise Move?

888 Begins Promotional Effort In Pennsylvania Ahead Of Online Gambling Legislation

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888 has quietly launched a cross-promotional campaign with its land-based online gambling partner in Pennsylvania, Mount Airy Casino Resort.

Effective immediately, players that register an account at 888 Casino NJ via the Mount Airy website or a kiosk located near the Player’s Club sign-up desk will receive a $25 “no deposit” bonus. The offer is a NJ DGE approved affiliate deal between Mt. Airy and 888 Casino in New Jersey – the bonus does not apply to 888 Poker.

Only players located in the state of New Jersey can redeem the offer, as online gambling has yet to be regulated in the state of Pennsylvania. This may prove a confusing caveat for non-New Jersey residents, who may presume (justifiably) that the site’s real-money features are accessible from anywhere.

The fate of the Keystone State’s most recent effort to legalize the activity currently lies with the Senate.

Mount Airy offer is aggressive, campaign less so

At $25, the monetary value of the Mount Airy offer tends toward the aggressive side, as most NJ online casinos cap their no deposit bonuses at $10 – $15.

Less appealing, are the terms of the bonus:

  • In order to withdraw any bonus funds received as part of the offer, players must first wager the bonus amount 30 times on slots, or 300 times on blackjack and video poker.
  • Players have 14 days from the time the bonus is credited to unlock the bonus, otherwise it is forfeited.

While these requirements aren’t totally out of bounds, they are somewhat more rigid than what players have come to expect from NJ regulated sites.

Overall, Mount Airy has done a serviceable, but hardly impressive, job of promoting its iGaming partner:

  • The kiosk, while prominently displayed, is often neglected. Most notably, the tablets used to register an account are constantly in need of maintenance.
  • The offer is advertised very selectively throughout the casino. A smattering of display screens, most of which are tucked away in the recesses of the casino floor, flash the 888 Casino promo as part of a long rotation.
  • A direct link, accessible via the website’s Play sub-menu allows players to sign up online. However, links to the offer on Mount Airy’s Promotions page are currently broken.

On a positive note, Mount Airy is now handing out pamphlets that provide a step-by-step breakdown of the registration process, along with an overview of 888 Casino games, a listing of deposit methods, and a couple vague references to NJ regulated online gambling.

Cross-promoting ahead of legislation a double-edged sword

For all the technical and visibility issues, the biggest problem with the offer is the lack of clarity.

From what I gathered during my most recent visit to the casino, the general misconception among Pennsylvanian residents who registered for 888 Casino was that they could wager the bonus from within their home state.

When they realize they cannot, it’s at least conceivable that they’ll feel deceived by both Mount Airy and 888.

Leaving a poor taste in the average PA resident’s mouth is the last thing online gambling proponents should want to do at this critical juncture.

On the flip side, the offer should prove compelling to visitors from New Jersey. Mount Airy is only 10-15 miles from the New Jersey border, and just an hour’s drive from some of NJ’s main population centers in the northeast. Only a handful of other PA casinos can say that.

From that perspective, it makes sense to aggressively promote NJ online gambling in Pennsylvania, as presumably, a significant chunk of the casino’s foot-traffic has origins in the Garden State.

There just needs to be a very clear indicator – perhaps one as prominent as the official DGE seal that adorns NJ licensed sites – that players have to be physically located in New Jersey to capitalize on the offer.

Not only will this clear up any confusion, but it may spark conversations centered around regulated online gambling.

The pamphlet was a step in the right direction, but 888 and Mount Airy can do more to educate and spread awareness.

- Robert DellaFave is a game designer and avid poker player. He writes for several publications centered on legal US online poker and the regulated online gambling industries in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
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