The New Jersey gambling market looks completely different today than it did at the beginning of the year.
Here’s a look back at the top five NJ online casino headlines for the year.
1. NJ online casinos generate record, after record, after record revenue
There is no bigger story in the NJ online casino landscape than the fact that Atlantic City casinos keep generating new entries in the record book.
With December’s story still being written, the industry set revenue records in six of the 11 months of the year:
- January ($21,962,339)
- February ($21,992,124)
- March ($25,580,210)
- July ($25,897,517)
- October ($26,753,878)
- November ($26,944,073)
Online casino gaming in the Garden State shows no sign of slowing down, either. Even in the months where records weren’t set, the revenue still hung around record territory.
The only dark spot on an otherwise sunny forecast is online poker. Online poker continued to post year-over-year declines for much of the year.
There was hope that once shared liquidity launched in May, that the trend would reverse. That hope was short-lived.
As a result, the revenue records are even more impressive when you consider that one of the products is not contributing its share. One thing is for sure … the outlook for NJ online casino gambling in 2019 is very, very bright.
2. Live dealer games spread like wildfire
Golden Nugget was the first AC casino to innovate its online casino product by introducing live dealer games.
It used that differentiation to its benefit for almost two years. In fact, many experts believe live dealer games takes credit for its dominance in the market.
Better late than never, this was the year more casinos finally came on board the live dealer games bandwagon. It began when Borgata added live dealer games to its portfolio in May.
Furthermore, by the end of the summer, eight online casinos were offering the exciting online casino gaming option:
- Golden Nugget
- Betfair Casino (now FanDuel Casino)
- SugarHouse online casino
- 888 Casino
- Hard Rock Online Casino
And that is not all. European-based Evolution Gaming opened its live dealer game studio in August. Until then, Golden Nugget had the only studio in town.
No doubt the market needed the additional studio space after expanding from one or two online casinos with live dealer games to eight.
Neighboring Pennsylvania will be bringing more online casinos to the region. Some of those casinos also operate in New Jersey. Look for 2019 to be another year of innovation as online casinos grab for their portion of the market share.
3. Hard Rock and Ocean Resort launch online gambling
One of the biggest stories dominating the online gambling news, besides the legalization of New Jersey sports betting, is the opening of two new casinos.
Hard Rock Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino both opened their doors on June 28. What was somewhat unexpected at the time was the launch of their online casinos at virtually the same time.
There are more than a dozen NJ online gambling sites, and the new kids on the Boardwalk are getting a late start. Consequently, it is not surprising that both casinos remain at the bottom of the revenue leaderboard despite Hard Rock making an impressive revenue run.
The two online casinos will need to innovate and differentiate themselves from the market to gain some momentum. Look for Hard Rock and Ocean Resort to make a move in 2019 to chip away at the market leaders and increase their market share.
4. DraftKings Casino takes shape with blackjack
The company was once only known for its daily fantasy sports contests. These days, however, it is operating as a full-fledged gaming company.
DraftKings added blackjack to its NJ sportsbook app in what is likely to be the first of many online casino games to come.
In an interview with NJGamblingSites.com, a DraftKings spokesman shared the company’s excitement about its early performance exceeding all expectations.
In that interview, we took notice of the word “preview.” The company has plans to add more casino-style games. Specifically, “The type of games you expect to find” at an NJ online casino.
5. It’s Golden Nugget’s world
We’ve mentioned Golden Nugget’s dominance in NJ’s online casino market a few times already in this article. Their position as market leader is so noteworthy, though, that it deserves its own spot on the list.
Now, that the other casinos launched live dealer games, look for Golden Nugget to continue to innovate as the company heads into the new year.
Its management team has been heralded as forward-thinking and risk-taking — two qualities that you don’t often find in the otherwise very conservative online gaming market.
One way it plans to stay one step ahead of the rest is by expanding its reach. The AC casino applied to offer online casino games in neighboring PA. It wasn’t the only casino to do so, however. MGM, owner of Borgata Casino, also applied.
The other casinos are probably taking notice that the top two Atlantic City casinos are not content with the status quo. Undoubtedly, launching in the nascent PA online casino market will help Golden Nugget look at the NJ market with fresh eyes.
Can it translate its NJ success to PA?
It seems somewhat unlikely because of the stiff competition from local casinos. But one thing is for sure: Golden Nugget will continue to drive the NJ market. And more than likely PA casinos will be taking notice.
Looking ahead to 2019
Innovation seems to be a constant theme when looking back throughout the year. There is no reason to think that the theme of innovation won’t carry into the new year, as well.
There is still room for more revenue growth, and that is evident by the fact that AC casinos continue to set records.
With new NJ casinos and PA online casinos entering the regional market, Atlantic City casinos will have no choice but to innovate. It will be fun to watch the wild ride continue.