That loud whooshing sound you're hearing comes from the Las Vegas casino executives rushing to develop Internet play-for-free sites. When MGM Mirage announced plans August 23 for a new free-play online gaming site that would be used to eventually offer real-money wagering when and where legal, it was a sure bet that other casinos would follow suit. The next Las Vegas entrant for free-play Internet games and gambling is Harrah's Entertainment, which yesterday announced the purchase of a minority stake in iwin.com, a leading online games-for-prizes and lottery company.
It's a sweet deal too, with iwin boasting more than 6 million registered users on its site. Harrah's, meanwhile, has a combined database of more than 19 million customers. "Partnering with iwin.com allows Harrah's to expand its use of the Internet to further leverage one of our most valuable assets -- the relationship we've developed with each Harrah's customer," explained Rich Mirman, Harrah's senior vice president of marketing.
The two-year marketing deal, launching October 1, will offer Harrah's and iwin.com players opportunities to win cash and prizes. The promotions, "iwin@Harrah's" and "iwin@Rio", will also offer monthly opportunities to win cash prizes and seasonally themed vacations. Plus, prize packages will include special promotions from Harrah's and iwin's partners and sponsors like National Airlines and the A.J. Foyt Harrah's -sponsored IRL racing team.
"In addition, the partnership will introduce Harrah's brand of entertainment to millions of iwin's monthly visitors -- customers who share a particular interest in playing games for prizes," Mirman added.
Equally enthusiastic was iwin's founder and CEO Fred Krueger. "Using our respective strengths in marketing technology, we are poised to reach and entertain tens of millions of customers, both online and off," Krueger said. "This is a winning proposition all around."
So far, there's been no word on whether Harrah's officials are hoping to eventually offer real-money wagering over the Internet.
Vicky Nolan joined the IGN staff in October 1999. She's best known for inventing fire, the wheel and swiss cheese. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org