It may seem hard to believe, but with 2016 just around the corner the New Jersey online gaming industry is about to enter its third full year of operation.
2015 will be remembered as a strong year on the online casino front, marked by unprecedented revenue gains, the launch of the Resorts online casino and promotional/marketing vehicles that were effective at driving traffic.
The situation was a bit murkier for online poker, as operators found it increasingly difficult to acquire and retain net depositing players. Yet, as we close 2015 it appears that the NJ’s online poker arm is finally on the cusp of a turnaround.
Most notably, 2015 will go down as the year we witnessed several operators differentiate themselves from the pack by offering some of the best value, not only in New Jersey, but within the entire online gaming sphere.
Here’s a look at the best of the best.
Best online casino value
#1 – Resorts/ Mohegan Sun
Resorts and sister site Mohegan Sun were hardly in enviable positions when they launched their NJ online casinos in early 2015. At the time, the market was saturated by the more brand recognizable Borgata and Tropicana, not to mention the upstart Golden Nugget.
Yet through a combination of smart marketing, a sleek and comprehensive gaming suite, and above all, industry best bonuses and promos, Resorts/Mohegan Sun quickly carved out a sizable niche in the market.
In November, the pair had its best month to date, pulling in over $1.2 million in gross gaming revenue. And if current trends hold, we should witness Resorts pull into a dead heat with the state’s other online casino powers sometime in 2016.
Savvy gamblers have already taken note of the fact that the duo’s welcome and reload bonuses are exceedingly easy to clear – slot players are asked to complete a quick 5x bonus play through, while other gamblers must wager 25x.
What’s more, both player rewards programs rank among NJ’s best, standing in stark contrast to the mostly ornamental VIP Club programs gamblers have become accustomed to.
Rounding out an already stellar gaming experience are one-off and recurring promotions, daily prize spins and some of the best cross-promotional tie-ins we’ve witnessed.
#2 – Golden Nugget
Golden Nugget Casino makes its way on the list by way of the single best promotion of 2015. Earlier this year, the casino awarded first-time depositing players a 100% cashback bonus up to $200, payable as cash.
Long and hard we searched for fine print that would ground this seemingly otherworldly offer, but there was none to be found. New players on the site were truly on a complete freeroll, and it’s little coincidence that the online casino posted some of its best financials during the promotional period.
Since, the 100% cashback bonus has been pulled in favor of a 100% match up to $1,000, which is more miss than hit, as the wagering requirement will prove too steep – 20x the combined bonus and deposit amount for slots, 100x for all other games – for most gamblers.
However, the Golden Nugget has been upping the ante in other ways. In December, the online casino rolled out a new client powered by NYX Gaming. Along with the new client came a VIP Rewards program and an influx of new one-off promos that awarded either double loyalty points, cashback on losses or instant bonuses.
So although the best casino promo in NJ has run its course, there’s still lots to like about the Golden Nugget’s product.
#3 – PartyPoker
PartyPoker boasted a rather tepid promotional schedule in 2015, but makes the list because of its revamped loyalty program and recurrent daily click card promotion.
The beauty of the new VIP Club is that achieving the program’s higher loyalty tiers is a very attainable task. And with higher loyalty tiers comes favorable point exchange rates on casino, poker and cash bonuses.
As an example, top-tier (Palladium) members can exchange their earned points for cash at a rate of up to .5%, which should prove very appealing to those who favor games with a low house edge.
Going further, the daily click card commonly awards reload bonuses, ensuring that smart players will nearly always be playing with a padded bankroll. Other daily rewards include slot, point and cash bonuses.
Factor in that PartyPoker offers video poker players a very favorable earning rate, and there’s tons of value to be had playing on the site – even if finding some of it requires a bit of digging.
Best online poker value
#1 – WSOP
WSOP.com might not feature the most lucrative individual promotions, but no single poker operator offers a more diversified and creative promotional schedule.
Fact is, it’s not uncommon for the operator to roll out somewhere between 6-10 new promos each month, and that’s in addition to staples such as Sit & Go Leaderboards, the Player of the Year Race and frequent reload bonuses.
In addition, WSOP.com enables players to exchange their online loyalty points for Total Rewards Tier Credits, effectively bridging the gap between the online and offline worlds.
Granted, players looking to pad their income via rakeback are generally best served elsewhere, but for casual and net depositing players, WSOP.com offers the best bang for the buck.
#2 – Borgata
Truthfully, Borgata’s online poker promotions aren’t overly exciting, nor are they abundant. But the two recurring promos on the site offer plenty of value to the site’s hardcore playing demographic.
The Grind is a traditional rakeback promotion that awards up to $2,000 cash to players who pay cash game rake and tournament entry fees. The rakeback rate for the promotion is capped at 8%, which isn’t great, but when combined with the top-tier point exchange rate of 15%, makes for a competitive offering.
On the tournament side is Tournament Leader Boards, which gifts out $7,800 in cash and tickets to the 30 top MTT performers each month.
The Borgata also offers the occasional reload bonus, as well as Experience Borgata promos, which as the name implies, awards winners with a stay for two (along with other extravagances) at the Borgata’s brick and mortar venue in Atlantic City.
#3 – PartyPoker
PartyPoker makes our online poker list for one of the same reasons it sneaked on to the casino list: the redesigned loyalty program.
Players that generate just $1,000 in rake and entry fees for the operator can exchange their earned points for tickets at a more than 30% rakeback rate. That’s unprecedented for a niche regulated market.
The operator loses points because it hardly ever offers a one-off promotion. But when it does, the events are generally quite lucrative.