When talking about innovation in the New Jersey gaming industry, the most important innovation to date is the introduction of online casinos and sports betting.
Today, if legislation permits, it is practically mandatory for a gaming company to launch an online casino to stay competitive.
Gaming expansion laws and the overturning of PASPA have made regulated gambling markets very competitive, and it becomes more so every day. In fact, they are so competitive that the only way a company can differentiate is to innovate further.
The onslaught of live dealer games
In August 2016, Golden Nugget online casino launched live dealer games. Golden Nugget and Betfair NJ online casino, which operates under Golden Nugget’s license, were the only two online casinos to offer live dealer games for nearly two years.
The innovation successfully differentiated Golden Nugget from the pack.
To illustrate, Thomas Winter, the senior vice president and general manager of online gaming at Golden Nugget, credits live dealer games to a 150 percent rise in online table game revenue.
Since April 2018, six more NJ online casinos launched live dealer games just to try and catch up with Golden Nugget. Three of those casinos recently launched live dealer through a brand new studio. That makes two live dealer game studios competing for the business of 18 online casinos.
Evolution Gaming at Hard Rock Atlantic City opened its live dealer studio in August and hosts three casinos:
A fourth, Ocean Resort Casino, is expected to launch soon.
The original live dealer studio, Ezugi at Golden Nugget, hosts the other five:
With eight casinos offering live dealer games, that means 10 are not. Of course, live dealer games are not the only innovative game offerings.
Innovating beyond live dealer games
To give casino players the thrill of sports betting, some online casinos offer virtual sports betting.
Virtual sports betting combines sports betting, video games, and slots into a computer-simulated sporting event gamblers can bet on. Currently, six casinos offer virtual sports betting in a variety of sports.
- Caesars online casino
- Golden Nugget
To date, virtual sports have not caught on like live dealer games have. On the other hand, legalized sports betting may be the catalyst the product needs.
Other games such as Keno and Bingo are also available at a few select casinos. But as with virtual sports, these games are not innovative enough to generate excitement.
What innovations do the future hold?
Trying to figure out what innovations are coming is somewhat challenging because by its definition “innovation” is something new. How customers receive the new product will also determine how relevant it is. If it is not well-received, it is hardly an innovation.
Just adding the innovative product of a competitor will not be good enough as the online gaming industry continues to grow. To be a leader in the market, a company needs to be the first — much like Golden Nugget was the first to launch live dealer games.
Even so, there is some new technology on the horizon that might take the NJ online casino market to new heights.
Virtual reality and artificial intelligence are hot topics in the digital world right now. Finding a way to use new and emerging technology to enhance a player’s experience is a winning strategy.
Customer experience and NJ online casinos
The key word though is customer experience.
In the competitive online gaming industry, the customer experience will always be the true differentiator. Considering gambling is a form of entertainment for most people, innovations that focus on the experience is the real winner.
There is one innovation that may seem like a simple feature on the surface and is likely to be a considerable advantage to the casino that launches it first. That feature is a linked customer loyalty program between a company’s online and live casino, poker room, and sportsbook.
Some online casinos already have a variation of this feature including Caesars and its Total Rewards program. Customers can bet on the Caesars sportsbook app, play a game at Caesars online casino and earn points.
Rewarding customers every time they play regardless of the game and allowing them to cash in wherever they are is likely to earn some serious loyalty.
What innovations do the future hold? Well, only time (and the online casino customer) will tell.