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August 1, 2014

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Casinos connecting with customers via iPhone apps

MGM Mirage iPhone app

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Harrah's Entertainment launched a mobile app for Caesars Palace in February 2010.

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MGM Mirage launched its Vegas Reality app last week. Using the iPhone's camera and GPS technology, the Vegas Reality app allows visitors to point their iPhone at any resort on the Strip and pull up property information like dining, shows and quick facts.

Beyond the Sun

Want to check your players club points while walking the Strip? There’s an app for that.

Maybe you want to upgrade your standard room to a high-roller suite? There’s an app for that, too.

The casino industry has caught the mobile bug and is using the technology to better market to its customers’ needs.

They are texting deals, letting customers bypass check-in with their cell phones and adding to the hundreds of thousands of iPhone apps that are already out there.

You’d think these new advances would catch on with a younger crowd first, but that isn’t necessarily the case, two casino executives said during Wednesday’s Gaming Technology Summit at Green Valley Ranch.

Mobile technology at resort-casinos has become surprisingly popular with older customers, because they are already familiar with the gaming properties, chief technology executives from Harrah’s Entertainment and the Agua Caliente resorts in California said.

But it’s still too soon to tell if the technology is driving big revenue or who the exact demographic is, Harrah’s Chief Technology Officer Katrina Lane said during the panel discussion. Lane declined to say how many people have used Harrah’s mobile products since they launched.

Harrah’s put its first app for a property on the market in February 2010. Ceasars Palace allows users to check property maps, make restaurant reservations, check out current events at the property and even dig into the Caesars Palace history with photo galleries.

The app has 588 ratings in Apple’s App Store, with an average rating of 2 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Lane said the company developed the app to help its customers make decisions on things like shows and restaurants while on the property.

“Most decisions with our guests happen on the casino floor. That’s where you have to reach them,” Lane said.

Along with the Caesars app, the Harrah’s technology team also created a mobile site where customers can check their players club point balances in real time, a mobile slot game called iSpin and an initiative Harrah’s is calling “textpress” that lets guests bypass the check-in process at Caesars Palace.

MGM Mirage recently rolled out some mobile apps of its own. During April and May, the company released property-specific apps for MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, New York-New York and the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Miss.

More are under way for MGM Mirage Las Vegas properties, company executives said. The apps do similar things as the Caesars Palace apps — guests can make restaurant reservations, navigate their way with property maps and watch previews of resident shows on property. It also lets customers access the property’s Twitter feed so they can see what others are saying about the resort.

All three Las Vegas property apps have a rating of three out of five stars in Apple’s App Store.

Last week, MGM Mirage released an app devoted to its entertainment offerings and another app called Vegas Reality, which it is branding as Las Vegas’ “first dedicated augmented reality app.”

Using the iPhone’s camera and GPS technology, the Vegas Reality app allows visitors to point their iPhone at any resort on the Strip and pull up property information such as dining options, shows and quick facts. It can also be used to explore information about CityCenter’s $40 million fine art collection, such as artist bios and facts about each piece.

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