Casino Mobile Apps Are A Mixed Bag

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Tier credits, comps and free play on the Yaamava app

As someone who often ends up at casinos that require travel, whether Las Vegas, the East Coast where most of my family resides, or places where cruises depart such as Miami/Fort Lauderdale, I find myself leveraging casino apps quite often to look up information, such as offers and accrued comp dollars.

What’s become clear over time is that app quality and design varies massively. The ones who do it the best offer a clear and organized set of information in their app. The ones who don’t offer a mess of an experience that isn’t easy to navigate.

Do you use your casino's mobile app?

A good percentage of players polled on Brian Christopher’s YouTube page – more than half – use casino apps at least some of the time. But likely reflecting the demographics of slot players, 1 in 5 don’t use apps on their phones at all.

Here are some areas of a casino app that I think players would benefit from, and some of the experiences I’ve seen.

Good App Design

This may feel big and vague to lead with, but there’s some basic things that modern apps can and should take advantage of, and things they should successfully program around.

Here’s one: Multiple casino apps I have on my phone, such as ones from Foxwoods and Resorts World, keep geolocation running on my iPhone after I shift out of the app, and stay on unless you force close the app. That has a tendency to reduce battery life and phone performance, and is frustrating to see that indication every time I leave the app, to have to go back and close it.

Many of the local casino apps here sign you out around once a week, but make you type all the information back in – no biometric sign-in like Face ID, which the bigger players like MGM and Caesars support.

It’s 2024, and the app market is pretty mature, so why are some of these basic capabilities still not being implemented? App development is a necessary evil, whether casinos want to put the money into it or not. But they’ll get used more if they’re easy to use and work well.

Offers Information

An app should be more than a pamphlet about the property. There are still casinos that somehow don’t have the ability to log in to see offers on their website, let alone an app, but there are still casinos where you can log in to the app and can’t see offers easily.

MGM lets you see free play, but when free play is tied to a booking, and you can’t easily find your Las Vegas offers to know what you’re eligible for, it can be frustrating. Caesars has offers that can be multiple parts and display oddly in their app.

Here sometimes the less corporate casinos can find themselves ahead; the app that Palms and Yaamava’ use make it easier to see what’s active and what’s coming up. Foxwoods will show you it all, grouped by type of offer.

On the other hand, Resorts World showed no free play on the app in January for me, but when I put my card into a machine while there, offers (including other offers, like food credit) showed up on the screen. But I had no awareness of it from the app, which is bizarre and backwards.

Comp Balances and Expiration

Aside from being able to display offers, comps balances are helpful and many apps do this. But what they don’t do is show upcoming expiration. Many comp programs set expirations after a period of inactivity, or comps expire a certain number of days after being earned.

Here, casinos should be looking to what other rewards programs have been able to accomplish to improve the experience. When you earn stars at Starbucks or points at McDonald’s, their apps dutifully group it by month so you know when they’re going to expire.

I realize casinos may have a financial benefit to players losing track of their comps and them expiring, but it’s one of those things that generally leaves a bad taste in players’ mouths, and knowing comps are going to expire could spur on another visit that drives more revenue.

Tier Points Earned Today

Another thing apps don’t really offer and leave players to figure out on their own is how many tier credits they’ve earned that day. With casinos increasingly offering “earn X and get Y” style promotions (free play, gifts, tier credit accelerators, etc.), it is baffling they don’t make it easy to see what your tier credits earnings for the day are.


Caesars has implemented a feature on their kiosks that can show it… why is it hidden from the app? Apps increasingly seem to have access to real time or near real time information – it isn’t a big lift from here to expose that information.

Hotel Connections

I had to think about how important this was to me. For years I used my phone as a door key at MGM properties, being able to skip the check-in lines altogether until my last two trips the app decided it no longer wanted to generate a digital key for me. At least they had kiosks that let you print a key, but it was still a frustrating step backwards.

Of course, MGM is light years ahead of its competitors in how their app handles that experience. Mobile check-in is still clunky at Caesars, which requires a visit to a kiosk to print room keys. For years this did not work for me at all because of the apostrophe in my name (my name breaks computers all the time, unfortunately), but I was finally able to get it to work at a recent trip to a Caesars property in January.

And there’s casinos that still don’t even have a mobile check-in option at all, meaning you get to wait in those long lines yet again just to get into your hotel room.

Takeaway

Mobile apps have certainly come a long way, but the uneven nature of what they offer and how they work continues to be a challenge for players. It’s an area from a customer perspective that still has plenty of room to improve. Fortunately, the future should be brighter from this respect, as technology continues to improve over time.


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