Editor’s note: This article was published before Ocean Resort Online Casino launched. The new NJ gambling site soft launched on July 10. It will go full time by July 13. Find out more about Ocean Resort Online Casino.
Until the end of June this year, New Jersey online casino players could choose between 16 different sites offered by Atlantic City’s seven licensed casinos.
July has already brought the total up to 17 as the Hard Rock Atlantic City quietly launched its own online casino product.
Although Ocean Resort Casino opened on the same day as Hard Rock AC, it hasn’t yet put its online casino out to the market, but it is coming very soon.
Eighteen online casinos for New Jersey’s population of nine million people means heavy competition. Ocean Resort will need a top-notch product and promotions if it is to succeed.
The good news is that late entrants to the market get the benefit of learning from the mistakes of their competitors. Perhaps more importantly, Ocean Resort online casino will be able to launch with the latest technology.
Ocean Resort online casino has big-name tech partners
The existing New Jersey casinos developed their mobile products several years ago, and since then, mobile technology, in particular, has advanced by giant leaps.
GAN’s 2017 Year End Financial Results stated that it had signed a multi-year agreement with Ocean Resort, “for the launch of a real money Regulated Gaming online experience offering Internet casino gaming together with Internet sports betting integrated with the on-property rewards program.”
GAN sources games from the biggest casino game developers in the world, including Scientific Games, NetEnt, and IGT, all of which are currently active in the New Jersey online gambling market.
Shortly before launching, Ocean Resort Casino announced that it had taken its relationship with IGT to a much deeper level. IGT explained:
“The soon-to-open casino will also feature a vast portfolio of notable IGT games such as SPHINX 4D™ Video Slots, Wheel of Fortune® Slots, Fort Knox® Video Slots, classic film-favorite THE GOONIES Video Slots, and many of the Company’s “Proven Performer” core games. Ocean Resort Casino will also leverage IGT’s Remote Game Server (IGT RGS®) to deliver proven IGT games such as Cleopatra® and Wheel of Fortune Slots to desktop and mobile.”
So IGT not only powers the land-based casino games but will also be involved with Ocean Resort online casino, presumably working with GAN.
The combination of IGT and GAN will ensure that the Ocean Resort online casino has the latest technology plus a vast library of games.
The competition for NJ online casinos is fierce
The latest figures from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement show that Golden Nugget has generated just over $200 million in online casino revenues since it launched.
In May 2018 alone, it generated $8.6 million on which it paid $1.3 million in state gambling taxes. This is almost twice the revenue generated by the number two in the market, the Borgata/PartyPoker NJ partnership.
The Golden Nugget has gradually increased its market share to around 35 percent by continually innovating and offering promotions that really click with its customers.
The majority of its games come from IGT, NetEnt, and NYX, which gives them “the largest and most dynamic slot selection of any New Jersey online casinos. Supplementing this, is one of the biggest bonus offers for new players in the Garden State.”
Its mobile product offers more than 180 slots titles, 13 different versions of video poker, blackjack and roulette.
Live dealer games are Golden Nugget’s bread and butter
What really makes Golden Nugget online casino stand out from the crowd is that it is the king of live dealer games. It was the first to launch it in the state, and its live dealer game library has grown ever since.
Currently, there are four live dealer games available with variations therein:
- Blackjack (including the 21 + 3 and Perfect Pairs side bets)
- Casino Hold ‘Em
- Live Casino Floor Roulette
All of the live dealer games are broadcast in real-time from a studio inside Golden Nugget Atlantic City. Of all the online casino options available, live dealer games are the ones which engender the most trust.
Players can see the dealer at work, cards dealt from physical shoes, and roulette balls are spun on real wheels. On top of this live dealer games enable much greater social interaction, both with the dealer and the other players at the table.
Borgata is number two in the market
Borgata and PartyCasino NJ operate two online casino sites powered by GVC’s PartyCasino platform.
Both Borgata and PartyCasino have built solid brands in the New Jersey market, which goes some way to explaining why they are number two in revenues.
Borgata’s offering, particularly on mobile, falls somewhat short of the variety offered by Golden Nugget online casino. For example, only 20 slots games are offered on mobile compared with more than 85 on the desktop client.
Borgata also offers a less generous bonus than the Golden Nugget at a maximum of $600 compared to the Nugget’s 100 percent up to $1,500 bonus.
Even better, the Borgata’s first time deposit bonus is much more attainable that most others on the market. Big numbers look good, but the Borgata bonus is easier to earn.
Caesars, Harrah’s and 888
CaesarsCasino.com is one of six domains under the Caesars umbrella and it uses the NYX Open Platform System. The remaining five sites including the online poker clients use Dragonfish technology.
Unlike almost all of the other NJ gambling sites, Caesars online casino offers virtually the same quantity of games on mobile as it does on desktop. A recent check showed more than 300 gaming options available for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.
Harrah’s online casino uses the Dragonfish platform, which belongs to 888 and which was developed for its global online casino and poker business.
Sign up bonuses are varied across the sites but generally lower than the market leaders. The Dragonfish mobile app is particularly good. It even appears to offer more games than the desktop software.
How can Ocean Resort take market share from the top three?
To be really successful, Ocean Resort needs its online casino to bring in new players, but it must also take some market share from the big three that take the majority of the revenues.
A terrifying competitor for the existing casinos would be one that can compete with the Borgata in offering live dealer games and huge prize money promotions.
It would be a big name brand with the most advanced mobile technology offering a wide selection of exclusive and industry standard games.
Can Ocean Resort Casino online be that competitor? It can certainly put up a good show.
If it gets the game mix right and a bug-free mobile online casino app that is better than the competition, then Ocean Resort should be able to establish itself as a capable competitor with a respectable market share.
What it lacks at the moment is the name recognition of the biggest New Jersey brands. There’s no getting away from the fact that this is a hurdle to overcome.
At a guess, like Hard Rock online casino, Ocean Resort will launch quietly and seek to build its player base incrementally.
Online sports betting could be a game changer
The big game changer that no-one can currently forecast is what difference NJ online sports betting will make to the market.
Ocean Resort Casino got a jump on Hard Rock AC by launching with its land-based sports betting on day one. While its William Hill sportsbook nears completion, guests can access a temporary sportsbook to place bets.
NJ sports betting revenues may well exceed online casino revenues when the market is established, so the relative revenues for each casino could easily change.
Getting sports betting right provides a great cross-selling opportunity, which could easily change the total online gambling market share of each casino.
Focusing on online sports betting may be Ocean Resort’s best strategic option. Many sports betting customers may well be new casino customers who can be cross-sold promotions to both land-based casino and online casino events.