[toc]If there’s one constant, universal to all NJ online casino sites, it’s that they all focus heavily on attracting new players.
This is typically accomplished via what’s known as a welcome package, or a new player bonus.
The monetary value and specifics of these offers vary widely from online casino to online casino.
Some sites offer match deposit offers with high monetary caps, but burdensome wagering requirements. Others flip the switch by offering a smaller, yet easier to clear, bonus.
And there are a select few sites that abandon the tried-and-true match bonus formula altogether, instead opting for alternative models, such as a return on net losses.
Regardless of the particulars, each offer requires that players make an upfront investment. And with 14 NJ online casinos currently hosting operations in the state, it will cost players a sizable chunk of cash to claim every bonus — disposable income they might not have.
Thus, in this column we break down the best NJ online casino welcome packages, using a methodology designed to help players find the biggest bang for the buck.
Our analysis is focused on finding players the best return on their upfront investment. This is accomplished by examining both monetary value and wagering requirements.
An example of how this is accomplished:
- Let’s say a welcome package offers a 100 percent match of $500 and requires a 20 times turnover on slots*. The required wagering amount is therefore $10,000.
- The match amount ($500) is then divided by the wagering requirement ($10,000) to yield a cashback rate — in this instance 5 percent.
- Assuming the industry’s better slots return somewhere in the vicinity of 96 percent (house edge of 4 percent), this yields a net profit of 1 percent on wagers (5 percent cashback minus 4 percent loss), or $100. This figure represents the true value of the promotional offer.
Notice that if the slot return was reduced to 95 percent, the true value would drop to $0. This leads us to consider game selection in our rankings.
Similar methodologies are used for non-match bonus offers. And we also consider other intangibles in our analysis, including the expiration date of bonus funds, and game restrictions (see table for full comparison).
*Note: Due to their significantly higher returns (often 99 percent+), video poker and table games typically contribute at a lower rate than slots. A safe assumption is to divide the cashback rate for these games by five.
The best NJ online casino welcome packages
#1 – Golden Nugget Casino
Golden Nugget Casino edges out the competition with its 100 percent match up to $1,000 first time deposit bonus.
Compared to the competition, this bonus ranks high in monetary value, and average to slightly above average with a 20 times turnover requirement on slots.
But it’s really the intangibles that vault it to the top spot.
Namely, Golden Nugget’s industry-leading game library boasts a wide array of high return slot titles.
We know this because Golden Nugget provides an unparalleled level of transparency with regards to its games, listing both volatility ratings and returns in a dedicated info tab.
What results is that players can easily find games with a low house edge. And in turn, can equip themselves to fully maximize their returns.
If there is a drawback to this offer, it’s the 30 day expiration date. Casual players simply might not play at high enough stakes or have enough time to wager $20,000 on slots in a month.
#2 – Betfair Casino
At Betfair Casino, first time depositing players are eligible for a whopping 100 percent match up to $1,500.
In terms of monetary allotment, this is the single most generous promotion in the NJ online casino market – eclipsing the next highest by a full 50 percent.
The 20 times turnover requirement on slots is on par with Golden Nugget’s offer, and Betfair gifts players three times as long (90 days) to meet the wagering requirements.
So why is it ranked number No. 2?
There’s a few reasons, that combined, knock the offer down a peg:
- Bonus rounds on any slot game do not apply toward the wagering requirements. For players who preference slots that boast multiple bonus features, this one is a sizable drawback.
- Gamble features only contribute 10 percent toward the turnover requirement.
- Betfair does not list game returns in its game descriptions.
Granted, this is still a great NJ online gambling offer, and players savvy enough to pinpoint the site’s best games can easily run up a bigger score than on Golden Nugget Casino. But the average gambler might not want to put in that kind of work.
#3 – Caesars Casino
Compared to Golden Nugget and Betfair, the welcome package offered by Caesars Casino might seem stingy. But a look under the hood reveals why it’s one of New Jersey’s best.
Admittedly, the $300 monetary cap is on the lower side, but this apparent deterrent is more than offset by the low 10 times turnover requirement on slot games.
For perspective, in order to break even on the bonus, players will only have to run at 90 percent — which is notably below expectation on even the worse games. More likely, they’ll run closer to 95-96 percent, yielding an instant profit of $150 or more.
And not for nothing, casual players should have a breezy time meeting the $3,000 wagering requirement on slots in seven days.
#4 (tie) – Virgin Casino and Tropicana Casino
Instead of a match bonus, players receive a $100 refund on losses stemming from their first deposit of $100 or more. The refund is awarded as a cash return, which is a decided plus.
For all intents and purposes, this offer carries zero risk, pending players do not lose more than $100 during their first seven calendar days as real-money players.
The main drawback to this package is that players who score a win receive nothing. This wildcard may slightly diminish the jubilation players feel when they run up their bankroll.
Also, the monetary cap of $100 is the lowest we’ve touched upon thus far.
Although, given the nature of the offer, it’s understandable why Tropicana/Virgin aren’t offering more.
#5 – Play SugarHouse
Play SugarHouse has turned the traditional deposit bonus on its head, and to great effect.
The site offers a 100 percent match up to $100. That might not seem like much of an offer until one observes the fine print — the wagering requirement is a mere 1x, and that rate applies to both slots and video poker games.
If the welcome package offered by Tropicana/Virgin is at worst, a break even proposition, than this offer is a near-guaranteed win.
Admittedly, Trop/Virgin’s offers enables players to take more risks, while this one encourages safe play. While that may be a slight turnoff to more action-oriented gamblers, there’s little denying the appeal this offer will have to recreational gamblers.
Even at an average wager of $0.50, players can clear this bonus in a matter of minutes.
Can they win a large sum of money following this model? No, probably not. But a small and easy win is nothing to scoff at.
NJ online casino bonus comparison table
|Casino||Overall Rank||Bonus type||$ Cap||Turnover (slots)||Cashback||True value*||Expiration (days)|
|Mohegan Sun||7 (tie)||Match||1000||20||5%||200||30|
*Assumes slot with return to player of 96%
Any bonuses worth avoiding?
Generally speaking, no. All welcome package offers are designed to improve a player’s expected return in the short run.
There are a couple of cases, however, where the bonuses do not temporarily turn the tables on the casino’s house edge.
PokerStars Casino uses a sophisticated and precise algorithm to determine cashback rates on its 200 percent match up to $400 bonus.
In short, a game’s house edge dictates the clearance rate. And from what it appears, the system is designed so that on balance, players will break even on their first deposit.
888 Casino requires that players meet an excessive 30 times wagering requirement before unlocking a $300 match bonus. This is the only instance where a welcome package doesn’t convert the casino edge into at least a break even proposition.
That said, the bonus reduces a player’s negative expectation significantly, from somewhere around 8-10 percent down to roughly 3 percent.
Bigger isn’t always better
The lesson learned here is that NJ online casino welcome packages shouldn’t be evaluated in terms of monetary cap, or any sole criterion for that matter.
Instead, players are advised to look at the big picture. That $100 bonus may offer better value than one that gifts players $1,000 or more, especially if one considers the time commitment typically tied to the latter.
At present, we still find the “big money” matches to possess the most value, but the tides are quickly changing.