People are gambling with eBay. We mean, literally. As in: in Vegas. Since April, eBay-themed slot machines manufactured and distributed by IGT have been popping up in casinos across the nation.
Players sit below huge illuminated logo signs, feeding their streams of nickels. In this kind of deal, the brand typically receives a licensing fee from the game manufacturer, according to Howard
Stutz, gaming reporter and columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal
. There are lots of gambling machines based on old movies and TV shows, he says, but this seems to be the first based on a
corporation. "The licensors get brand awareness and the residuals. There's some money being made by licensing that brand or title or theme." And eBay is pinching pennies like everyone
else; no one except it and IGT knows how much the deal is worth.
It's good for IGT and the casinos, which need a constant flow of new looks to keep the casino floors fresh. But for
eBay, the brand message seems off. Are you gambling away your money when you use eBay? On the other hand, people commonly say they won or lost an auction. Scott Wingo, CEO of auction tools provider
ChannelAdvisor, called the machines "really, really cheesy."
In any case, the online auctioneer evidently wants to keep this really, really quiet. Six requests for comment to
different eBay flacks went unanswered before someone called to say she had no clue. Why the hush? eBay has no problem feeding customers' auction addictions, so where's the shame in collecting
a few extra nickels?