[toc]Back in 2014, few would have expected NJ online casino revenue to effectively double over the course of just two years. Yet, the latest tallies show that today’s market is roughly 95 percent more fruitful than it was back then.
Perhaps more remarkably, there is no indication that the market’s upward trajectory will come to a halt anytime soon.
Raw increases in the number of sites, stronger land-based integration and improvements on the payment processing front have all undoubtedly contributed to the market’s exceptional growth. But an argument can be made that it’s not these, but a slow yet consistent drip of new games, that has had the greatest impact.
Today’s game libraries bare little resemblance to those of 2014, when the average lobby featured less than 100 NJ online casino games in total, and possessed the crudest of navigation options. Instead, 200 titles appears to be the new gold standard of success.
And if operators continue to add games at the same metered pace they have in 2016 thus far, it won’t be long before the majority of sites boast over 300 titles.
Here’s a look at how game libraries have changed in recent weeks.
Slots remain focal point for operators
In what amounts to a recurring trend, online operators launched more new slot games in August than any other game type. This comes as little surprise, as historically, slots are a casino’s biggest money maker.
The biggest mover of late has been Caesars Casino, which over the past several weeks has increased its number of slots to 238, good for fourth place among the industry’s 13 online casino sites.
But it’s the Golden Nugget Casino that continues to set the pace. The operator has been averaging two new slots per week this summer, and is drawing attention to its new roll-outs via weekly tie-in promotions. At present, the casino features 282 slot titles, or 25 more than second place Resorts Casino.
Other online casinos that have recently added new slots include:
- Borgata Casino: Four new slots, 145 total (sixth place)
- Betfair Casino: Three new slots, 177 total (fifth place)
- Virgin Casino/Tropicana Casino: Two new slots, 116 total (Virgin), 114 total (Trop) — ninth and tenth place, respectively.
These days, it’s not uncommon for NJ online casinos to launch new slot titles in parallel with one another.
There is still plenty of variation, and at least a measure of exclusivity, but from here on out, New Jersey gamblers can expect the most popular title launches to occur concurrently across at least half-a-dozen sites.
Listed below are some of the more noteworthy launches:
- James Dean: Features 25 paylines, expanded wilds, a scatter bonus, and a James Dean Pick Bonus, whereby players can win up to 750x their original wager.
- Glow: 15 paylines, wilds, and a free spin bonus game featuring 2x payouts.
- Spin Sorceress: Old school style slot boasting 243 line pays, wilds, free games, and a Superbet feature that will conjure magic multipliers up to 50x on wild wins.
- King of Slots: Low volatility, high return slot where free spin wins are multiplied by three. Also features Sticky Wins, where the symbols from any winning line bet are held and other reels are re-spun for a chance at a bigger score.
A new table game format comes to online casinos in NJ
On most sites, there was little movement on the table game front. On one, a potentially game changing format debuted.
Live Dealer games debuted on Golden Nugget Casino on August 11. The roll-out started off modest, with just three tables running eight hours per day. That has since been expanded to four tables, with plans by the end of 2016 to add more games and side-bets.
Given the low initial awareness and cautious launch, it’s unlikely that Live Dealer games are going to have much of an immediate impact on the Golden Nugget’s bottom line. However, the implications for the long-term are significant, as Live Dealer games are already proving a hot commodity in international markets, where they’ve become a mainstay of top online casino sites.
Over the ensuing months, expect more NJ-based operators to jump on the bandwagon. Virgin Casino, Betfair Casino and PokerStars Casino seem logical choices as they already support the product on their international sites.
The addition of Live Blackjack, Roulette and Baccarat brings Golden Nugget Casino’s total table game count up to 20 — again, tops in New Jersey. Former leaders Resorts, Mohegan Sun and Caesars are now in a three way deadlock for second with 16 table games apiece, followed closely by Tropicana Casino and Virgin Casino with 15.
No changes to video poker
After the introduction of the first multi-line Game King machines earlier this year, video poker has stagnated. No new games were introduced in August.
Once again, the Golden Nugget tops the charts, with 21 total video poker games offered. However, it’s worth nothing that some titles (Jacks or Better, Double Double Bonus etc.) are featured more than once, so the true game count is closer to a dozen.
Caesars Casino sits in second with 18 titles (some overlap between titles), followed by Resorts and Mohegan Sun, who are tied for third at 13 titles apiece. Every other operator features less than 10 video poker titles.
That said, the multi-line games featured on Borgata and Trop/Virgin boast much better payouts than those found on sites where video poker titles are more plentiful.
What kind of impact does library size have on revenue?
Although it’s impossible to measure the exact impact of library size on revenue, we’re confident that there is a fairly strong correlation.
Consider that the Golden Nugget, comprised of Golden Nugget Casino and Betfair Casino, generated $3.71 million in July, an industry record. While it’s easy to write off the duo’s recent gains as the result of a strong marketing effort, a look under the hood shows that a recent surge in size correlated with a massive uptick in revenue.
In the months leading up the casino’s relaunch on the NYX Open Platform System, the Golden Nugget license was averaging between $2 – $2.5 million in gross gaming revenue per month.
Since the changeover occurred, and new games began being added at an accelerated pace, the Golden Nugget has watched its revenue soar by 68 percent. Year-over-year revenue is up a staggering 107 percent. Given these figures, it’s difficult to deny the impact of the Golden Nugget’s sheer size.
The Resorts AC license too, appears to be benefiting from massive additions to its game library. Although the triad of Resorts, Mohegan Sun and PokerStars Casino still generate less revenue than any other operator ($2,298,099 in July), revenue has doubled since the first month all three were in operation (April 2016).
This, despite operators weakening their welcome packages, and hosting fewer promotions than they did in the spring.
By contrast, the partnership of the Borgata and Party Poker has taken an exceedingly less aggressive approach to expansion, and only shows year-on-year growth of just 18.8 percent, compared to industry growth of 44 percent.
The sole anomaly appears to be Tropicana/Virgin, which manages to consistently pull in $3 million plus per month, despite a smallish game library of approximately 135 games. This goes to show that strong branding, attractive site features and robust promotional schedules can combine to overcome deficiencies in game selection.