Before the COVID-19 pandemic began sweeping across America, Scott Richter would live-stream himself playing slot machines at casinos not just in Black Hawk, but throughout the country. "I flip-flop between first and second place for the largest online slot channel," the 48-year-old Westminster resident says of his YouTube channel, which boasts over 231,000 followers.
On the Big Jackpot YouTube channel, fans can experience the vicarious rush of Richter, nicknamed the "Raja," winning $100,000 on a slot machine and also losing $100,000, in just fifteen minutes.
But with casinos closed across much of the country, including in Colorado's mountain gaming towns, Richter has had to alter his entertainment model. Now he's started streaming himself doing another gambling-related activity: playing the Colorado Lottery.
Yes, the Colorado Lottery is still chugging along, even though it has shut down its in-person claims offices. Instead, players can mail in winning tickets valued at more than $600. For tickets with prizes under that amount, players can go to one of the thousands of retail locations in Colorado that offer exchanges.
For his first live lottery streaming video last week, Richter spent $1,500 on thirty $50 scratch tickets, the closest he could come to playing the slots in Colorado. He and his colleagues from the Big Jackpot then spent an hour scratching off all thirty tickets in front of a live virtual audience. Richter won back a little more than half of his $1,500 investment.
Without live slot-machine streams, Richter expects that his viewership will drop to only a quarter or a third of the nearly 10,000 viewers he usually attracts. But those who do watch are engaged, he says.
"lol omg this is awesome," a fan named Sherrie wrote in the live-comments section.
"my niece who's 6 can scratch a ticket better omg," ladygirl99 commented not long after.
"It was really fun with the fan interaction," Richter says. "A lot of the fans play the scratch tickets and know better."
Back in 2004, Richter and OptinRealBig, his "online advertising business and marketing company," as he describes it, were the subject of a Westword cover story by Alan Prendergast. Richter's critics back then, including Microsoft and former New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer, considered OptInRealBig a mass spam email platform. Lawsuits against Richter and his company eventually led to him paying out about $20 million.
"I have a checkered past," Richter admits.
But he's left those days behind, he says; for the past few years, he's focused on producing his gambling live streams.
On March 31, Richter hosted another scratch-off ticket live stream. He and his colleagues took shots of Crown Royal Apple Whiskey each time they got a ticket worth $100 or more, "just to liven it up," he says. "We have a lot of viewers who have been bad gamblers, and actually watching us play keeps them out of the casino."
And today, April 1, Richter and his Big Jackpot team have a surprise for fans.
Until the casinos shut down, Richter would go to Black Hawk every week to live-stream from the Monarch, the Lodge or the Ameristar.
Today, he says, he's going to give the fans what they want: "We’re going to say we’re breaking into the casinos," Richter says.
Which may or may not be an April Fool's Day prank. But when it comes to Richter, all bets are off.
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