Yahoo – At the online version of the Foxwoods Resort Casino, customers can play nearly every game and buy credits that build up reward points for merchandise and hotel stays at the real property. One thing they cannot do, at least for now, is wager money.
Foxwoods and its local rival, Mohegan Sun, the two biggest tribal-owned casinos in the United States, each have launched websites in case Internet gambling is legalized at the federal level or in their home state of Connecticut.
While prospects for changes to the law remain uncertain, the casinos have found the sites offer value as marketing tools for the giant resorts, sources of market data through user registrations and, at least in the case of Foxwoods, revenue through credit purchases.
“What we’re finding is that it’s actually a useful tool for building a database, getting our brand out there and connecting people to the property,” said Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which owns and operates Foxwoods.
Foxwoods launched its “online casino” in January, through a partnership with GameAccount Network, and Butler said about 50,000 users have set up accounts. Users can buy credits to play longer or gain access to exclusive games. The credits add to reward points for use at stores, hotels and restaurants at Foxwoods.
Mohegan Sun teamed with Bally Technologies to begin offering an online poker site more than a year ago. It doesn’t sell credits for money, but users can compete for hotel stays and gift vouchers. Chuck Bunnell, a spokesman for the Mohegan Tribe, said there is strong interest in the site and it has helped measure who likes to play and when.