Live dealer games were introduced to the NJ online casino industry in August 2016. Currently, the only site that spreads them is Golden Nugget Casino.

The games are broadcast live from the Golden Nugget’s land-based venue in Atlantic City, and are available nightly from 5 p.m – 1 a.m.

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Live dealer games in New Jersey

Live dealer games combine the convenience afforded by gambling online with the social interactivity of a live casino setting. As the name suggests, live dealer games feature real dealers. They use real playing cards and roulette wheels to determine the outcome of individual games.

At present, the Golden Nugget Casino supports three Live Dealer games. They are blackjack, roulette, baccarat, with just one table of each.

However, the online casino does intend on expanding both its selection of games, and the number of side bets available, shortly.

Other New Jersey online casino sites, particularly those that support the format on their international sites, will likely follow suit.

Live Dealer Blackjack

The most obvious difference between Live Dealer Blackjack and other online variants of the game is that the former is dealt from a traditional shoe.

Otherwise, the rules at Golden Nugget live blackjack will come off as familiar, albeit somewhat more rigid, than what NJ online casino players have come to expect:

  • Shoe consists of 8 decks
  • Naturals pay 3:2
  • Dealer hits on soft 17
  • Players can double down on any two cards, and double after split
  • No re-splits
  • Players cannot hit re-split aces
  • There is no late surrender

Under this rule set, the house edge is 0.72 percent. This is considered quite high for blackjack. It’s assumed these mediocre rules — and the 50 percent cut card penetration – were chosen to discourage card counters, who could run rampant under more favorable conditions.

The betting spread for Live Dealer Blackjack, and other live dealer games for that matter, more closely resembles that found on live casino floors. For Live Dealer Blackjack at Golden Nugget Casino, the minimum wager is $10 and the maximum $1,000.

Golden Nugget online live dealer Blackjack also features two side bets, both of which are popular at land-based casinos in Atlantic City. They are Perfect Pairs and 21+3.

Perfect Pairs

  • Mixed color pair (player’s first two cards): 6-1
  • Same color pair: 12-1
  • Perfect pair (same suit): 25-1
  • Return-to-player (RTP): 95.91 percent

21 + 3

  • Suited Trips (player’s first two card plus dealer’s up card): 100-1
  • Straight Flush: 40-1
  • Three of a Kind: 25-1
  • Straight: 10-1
  • Flush: 5-1
  • RTP: 93.72 percent

Live Dealer Roulette

Outside of the fact that Live Dealer Roulette outcomes are determined by a real roulette wheel, the game varies very little from other roulette games played online.

The wheel features two zeroes. Players don’t receive a return on their investment when a 0 or 00 is spun. This brings the house edge up to 5.26 percent, which is quite unfavorable for the player.

The minimum wager for Live Dealer Roulette is $1, and caps out at $1,000.

Live Dealer Baccarat

Like its blackjack counterpart, Live Dealer Baccarat is spread over a real felt. It uses physical playing cards to determine game outcomes.

Using the standard 5 percent commission rule, the house edge for winning banker bets is just 1.06 percent. For player wins, it’s 1.24 percent.

The tie bet is generally best avoided, as the house edge is nearly 15 percent. There aren’t too many NJ online casino games that have a lower return.

Live Dealer Baccarat also features a Dragon Bonus Player side bet. This pays out on naturals and non-natural wins where the player wins by at least 4 points:

  • 1-1 for a natural win
  • 30-1 for non-natural win by 9 points
  • 10-1 for non-natural win by 8 points
  • 4-1 for non-natural win by 6-7 points
  • 2-1 for non-natural win by 4-5 points

The house edge on this attractive side bet is just 2.65 percent.

The betting spread for Live Dealer Baccarat is $1 – $200. By comparison, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to play baccarat for a minimum wager of less than $5 at land-based casinos.

New Jersey mobile live dealer games

While Golden Nugget Casino does offer a NJ mobile casino app for Android and iOS powered devices, the live dealer format has yet to make the transition.

There’s good reason to believe that will change somewhere down the line, as the online casino has already ported 127 of its games to mobile.

Live dealer games played online versus live

Live dealer games bear more similarities than differences to table games spread at brick and mortar casinos in Atlantic City. Both feature real dealers, real playing devices (chips withstanding), and both encourage social interaction. Live dealer players can even tip.

Of the few differences, most favor the online live dealer format.

For one, the game moves as a somewhat brisker pace compared to live, as all calculations are handled digitally. Then, of course, there is the convenience of being able to play from one’s own home computer. Anonymity may also be a plus for some players.

At present, the main disadvantage of live dealer is accessibility. The format is only supported by one casino, and at only select times during the day.

Land-based casino players also have more side bets to choose from, although some may argue this is actually a disadvantage, as these bets tend to pay low returns.

Finally, the rule sets are a bit more rigid compared to live Atlantic City games, and even the online market’s all-digital games.

Top live dealer games in New Jersey by return

Despite the somewhat unfavorable rules, Live Dealer Blackjack offers players the best return at 99.28 percent. Baccarat banker bets are a close second at 98.94 percent, followed by player bets for the same game (98.74 percent). The best side bet is the Dragon Bonus Player bet (97.35 percent).

After that, there’s a fairly big gap, as Live Dealer Roulette and most side bets offer returns in the 95 percent area.

Can live dealer games push Golden Nugget across key revenue threshold?

To date, NJ online casino revenue has been somewhat capped at the operator level, with $3.5mm serving as something of a ceiling for revenue directly from the casino product.

Many operators, including Golden Nugget, Borgata, and Tropicana have flirted with this number, but none have been able to cross and consistently hold above it.

The majority of the growth in NJ’s online gambling market over the last year has come from the introduction of new brands as opposed to expansion at existing brands.

It’s possible that the introduction of a new product category – one that is, for now, exclusive to Golden Nugget – could propel the casino above the $3.5mm mark, especially if the novelty of the product catches on with local media and gamblers.

Of course, we expect it wouldn’t be long before competing brands like Virgin and Betfair jumped into the category, especially given their overseas experience with the category in the international market.

A critical product for NJ online casinos

We don’t have great data on how the live dealer product performs relative to traditional online gambling products in markets like the UK.

But it’s obvious that, absolute performance aside, the product has been a growth center for operators and has quickly become a staple at top casino sites like Sky, bet365, and William Hill.

The live dealer product may serve an even more important function that revenue generation at New Jersey’s licensed online operators.

One of the standing issues facing online operators in New Jersey is a lack of consumer familiarity and trust with online gambling products. Live dealer products could provide a useful tool for bridging that divide.

By bringing the worlds of the online product and the live casino product closer together, online casinos may find that consumers who are primarily comfortable with the land-based casino product gain a greater comfort level with the online casino product.

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