Instead, it seized the opportunity to strive even higher, evidenced by a flock of new game releases. For players this means more top-flight slot titles to choose from, as well as a few new titles that do right by value-hunting gamblers.
That said, some NJ online casino operators were far more active than others. In this column, we take a look at which online casinos were movers, and take a snapshot of the best new games on display in the marketplace.
How sweet it is
The operator, which had already distinguished itself with its 1x turnover rate on all bonuses and more social approach to its online casino product, launched 57 new games over the past two months.
That, to our knowledge, is the most games rolled out by a single operator in such a short span.
What’s more, is that these weren’t all just preexisting titles.
Notably, SugarHouse penned a deal with Konami to deliver exclusive content to the market. That deal resulted in the launch of the Gypsy Fire and Fortune Stacks slots — two penny machines characterized by their cascading free spins and multiplier pays.
SugarHouse also added the industry’s first man vs. computer 90-ball bingo game: Empire Action. Although slightly flawed, the title grants bingo players looking for streams of action a more than serviceable option.
Not to mention, value hunters will appreciate the impressive 96.44 percent return-to-player, which is simply unheard of for a game that more closely resembles Keno than bingo.
The game features myriad player-friendly rules, such as surrender and double after splits. But unfortunately the 6:5 payouts on blackjacks is a bit of a killer, knocking the theoretical return down to 98.74 percent.
That’s significantly lower than the return of most blackjack shoe games found on the marketplace, which generally return between 99.3-99.6 percent.
In total, Play SugarHouse now boasts approximately 300 games, more than all but four sites in the New Jersey market. That’s saying something for a site that entered the market nearly three years after its inception.
Other big movers
Both Mohegan Sun and Resorts remained active over the past couple of months, with the former adding 37 new games, and the latter 28.
The duo own the second and third-biggest game libraries on the market. Although in this instance, library size hasn’t equated to industry dominance, as Resorts placed last among the industry’s five Atlantic City operators in gross gaming revenue for 2016.
This, despite launching the PokerStars online casino and poker sites under its license.
To little surprise, Golden Nugget Casino also increased its industry leading game library by a sizable margin.
Thanks to the launch of 21 new slot titles, including the exclusive Cirque Du Soleil Kooza by SG Interactive, the Golden Nugget has pushed its game library over the 350 game threshold.
Caesars Casino rounds out the industry’s big movers, having added 16 titles since December. However, it does appear that most, if not all, of the new titles overlap with those added across other NJ online gambling web sites.
Pala goes exclusive
Jackpot Shores features three independent progressives, the largest of which resets at a minimum payout of $100,000 (it’s nearly $105,000 at the time of this writing).
Admittedly, the game is volatile, and the fixed wager of $6.75 for all 27 pay lines may be a tad too rich for casual gamblers. But the title does not lack in the visual and excitement departments.
The launch of Jackpot Shores is also symbolic, in that it reaffirms Pala’s commitment to the NJ online casino market.
Arguably, the same cannot be said about online gambling partners Borgata Casino and Party Casino, which are seemingly content to coast along, relying primarily on strong brand recognition and safe promotions.
Other notable new games
- Tokidoki Lucky Town (multiple casinos): Inspired by the Japanese lifestyle brand in which it shares a name, this IGT product boasts offers aesthetics, five different Reel Reveal features, and relatively low volatility. On the down side, the theoretical return-to-player is low relative to industry standards (93.57 percent on Golden Nugget).
- The Codfather (multiple casinos): The odd pairing of the mob and aquatic life is the theme behind this NextGen title. Despite its relatively low jackpot cap, The Codfather is an exceedingly volatile game, that reserves most of its payouts for the free games and Big Boss Bonus features. Still, the 95.2 percent return is rather tough to turn a fin at.
- Wheel of Fortune On Tour (multiple casinos): By far the most mainstream of last month’s new titles, Wheel of Fortune On Tour is a “spin” on the classic game that awards players who grind it out with better bonus wheel features. As a result, the return-to-player can actually increase over time, topping out at close to a favorable 97 percent.
And the best NJ online casino story of 2016 is….
Golden Nugget Casino, and it’s not close.
Although we can’t gauge with certainty how much the site grew the market (revenue is only reported by license holder, not individual site), we do know that:
- As of December 2016, Golden Nugget revenue is up 66.9 percent year-over-year.
- Annual revenue for the operator climbed 36.4 percent from 2015 to 2016.
- Atlantic City casino-branded sites generally perform better than international brands or those who house casinos in states other than New Jersey.
Taken together, we can assume with some clarity that Golden Nugget Casino saw a profound uptick in traffic. It’s live Casino Feed, which displays big winners, also suggests that a fair number of high rollers have gravitated to the site.
A new promotion (Everyone’s A Winner) happily reinforces this notion, noting that Golden Nugget has awarded $2 million in $10,000 minimum chunks over the past three months.
Finally, Golden Nugget Casino is the only NJ online casino site with Live Dealer games.
On its own, Live Dealer is not a huge revenue driver, but the games serve as an appealing bridge to new customers, who may eventually gravitate to the site’s faster, more populous digital games.
Image credit: Andrei Kholmov / Shutterstock, Inc.