Mobile sports betting isn’t the only online gaming product to be making headlines and seeing significant growth in New Jersey these days.

On the online casino side of things, growth is happening by way of live dealer games. Why? Because live dealer games have been a great differentiator in New Jersey’s competitive online casino market.

Of course, the NJ online gambling space became more crowded recently with two new online casinos joining the fray in the last few months: Hard Rock Online Casino and Ocean Resort Online Casino.

More gambling sites mean more fighting for customers, especially for the new kids on the Boardwalk. That may help explain the flurry of live dealer game additions to online casino portfolios.

Live dealer games are on the march

Three online casinos added live dealer games to their offerings this week:

  • PlaySugarHouse
  • 888 Casino
  • Hard Rock Online Casino

The most recent launches make a total of eight online casinos now offering live dealer games. The other five are:

Golden Nugget’s titanic live dealer gamble

Many think that live dealer games are a differentiator that will elevate an online casino’s chance for success.

Case in point: Golden Nugget launched live dealer games in early 2016. At the time, Borgata was the leading NJ gambling site.

Live dealer games weren’t an immediate hit for Golden Nugget, but less than a year after the release of live dealer games, Golden Nugget started to pull away from the online gambling pack.

The online casino has held on tight to its lead ever since. Coincidence? Most likely not.

What does it mean now that live dealer games are becoming more common? That’s the big question.

Unique live dealer games may be the spark

New Jersey is now home to two live dealer studios. In mid-August, the Evolution Gaming live dealer studio at Hard Rock opened its doors. It joined Ezugi’s studio over at Golden Nugget as the only other live dealer studios in the Garden State.

Eventually, it will not be so much about a casino adding live dealer games as it will be about a casino adding new types of live dealer games not found elsewhere.

For instance, Hard Rock online casino and 888 Casino offer two games not currently produced at the Golden Nugget:

  • Ultimate Texas Hold’em
  • Three Card Poker

Golden Nugget, in turn, offers exclusive games of its own including Live Casino Floor Roulette and Unlimited Blackjack.

Adding games not found on other sites might be the new key differentiator and may help brands bring in new customers.

Live dealer studio competition

The competition is not just between casinos for customers either. It is also between the studios fighting for casino partnerships.

Both studios, Ezugi and Evolution, can host several casinos from their studio.

Evolution partnered with Hard Rock, SugarHouse, 888 Casino, and Ocean Resort (which hasn’t launched its live dealer games yet). Golden Nugget’s studio services the other four sites.

The studios will be competing to attract the remaining online casinos into their fold. New, innovative game offerings might just tip the scale.

For instance, Evolution Gaming is well-known in Europe for including multi-camera views of its live dealer offerings with a near seamless immersive experience.

Are live dealer games a must-have for online casinos?

The short answer is yes. There is no questioning the popularity of live dealer games or the impact it has had on Golden Nugget’s revenue and market dominance.

As more casinos enter the market, the impact of live dealer games may become less significant on an individual casino’s revenue. It will, however, remain an essential contributor to New Jersey’s overall online casino revenue figures.

What does become important is the continual innovation and introduction of new types of live games to a casino’s online game portfolio.

Hard Rock seems to be banking on that strategy. It would not be surprising to see Golden Nugget answer by upping its game sometime soon.

Kim Yuhl

About

Kim Yuhl has been covering the US online gambling market since 2013. Her work is featured on various sites and covers sports betting, online casino gambling, and online poker. Kim is a full-time traveler and vlogger and is currently slow traveling to 60 countries. You can follow her travels at kimandway.com and on YouTube at kimandway.