Last week, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement revealed January 2018’s revenue for online gaming in the Garden State.
Since then, plenty of articles hit the interwebs about the New Jersey online gambling revenue numbers, including how:
- State revenue hit record territory with nearly $30 million
- Year over year numbers are the envy of every other industry with 16.7% growth
- $1 billion in lifetime revenue for New Jersey casinos is a real possibility this year
And while all that news is painting a rosy picture for online gambling in its fifth year, it’s the contribution of Golden Nugget’s revenue to those numbers that have people taking note.
Golden Nugget NJ vs the rest
Golden Nugget may appear small sitting next to the big boys on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, but it is towering over them online.
For the first time, Golden Nugget posted an impressive $7.3 million for January. Not only is it the first time for Golden Nugget, it is the first time a single NJ online casino earned more than $7 million for a single month. They shattered the previous record of $6.25 million, which they set last summer.
What’s even more impressive is Golden Nugget and its family of NJ gambling sites (GoldenNuggetCasino.com, BetfairCasino.com, and PlaySugarHouse.com) generated about one-third of all online gambling revenue.
To put the numbers into perspective, its closest competitor, Borgata posted an online casino revenue number of $3.5 million, which is about half of what Golden Nugget produced.
Why is Golden Nugget the NJ online gambling winner?
What is the key to Golden Nugget’s success? In short, innovation mixed with some uncharacteristic risk-taking.
The executive management team at Golden Nugget has been able to step away from the steadfast decision-making that is prevalent in the land-based casino model and treat its online gaming operation independently.
The most significant innovation came in the fall of 2016. That’s when Golden Nugget introduced live dealer games to its online gaming offerings. Live dealer games are an interactive experience where a player can chat with the dealer and other players at the table. The players take the appropriate actions, and the outcome of games are streamed live.
It has been a year and a half since the introduction of live dealer games, and they are as popular as ever.
What’s more interesting and very telling is that little innovation is coming out of Golden Nugget’s competitors to compete with them. This kind of risk-taking and out-of-the-box thinking is what will continue to secure Golden Nugget’s leadership status going forward.
Putting skin in the game
Many attribute Golden Nugget’s success and domination in the NJ online casino space to their association with Betfair and SugarHouse Casino.
The popularity of Betfair cannot be underestimated. It is no coincidence that Golden Nugget’s rise to the top began shortly after their partnership was secured. It was the success of this partnership that prompted Golden Nugget to look for an additional affiliation.
Enter SugarHouse Casino, which came on board shortly following the introduction of live dealer games and solidified Golden Nugget’s upward trajectory.
The relationship with SugarHouse Casino also positions Golden Nugget to expand into additional markets, as online gaming legislation makes its way through regulatory processes in more states. Specifically, all eyes are on Pennsylvania.
Hard Rock, Ocean Resort about to join the fray
The big question out there is whether the other NJ iGaming operators will be able to close the gap with the front-runner. The short answer is it’s unlikely — at least in the foreseeable future.
Later in 2018, online gaming in New Jersey is going to get a bit more crowded when the state awards two new licenses. Hard Rock Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino are expected to launch online platforms sometime in the coming months. That means more operators will be fighting for the same piece of the pie.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if Golden Nugget held onto its market share, while its competitors gave up a piece of theirs to the new operators when they enter the market.
Golden Nugget is the golden child
Golden Nugget is truly the golden child of online gaming at the moment. For the other operators in the state to gain ground and close the gap, they will need to make some bold moves and take some big risks.
This is especially true for Caesars online casino. It is the only operator with year over year numbers in negative territory for January. But the clock is ticking. Once the two new operators launch operations, there will likely be a larger uphill battle to forge.
Right now, at least where New Jersey online gambling is concerned, it’s Golden Nugget’s world. Everyone else is just trying to keep up.