[toc]Historically, December has been a fruitful month for NJ online casinos. In both 2014 and 2015, the industry set its annual high-water mark for online gambling revenue right before the calendar flipped to a new year.
Players too, have gotten the better of it in December, thanks primarily to the slew of festive-themed promotional offers thrown their way.
And the way it’s shaping up, this December will be yet another one to remember. Not only have operators begun their promotional efforts early, but they’ve prepped for the holiday push by expanding their game libraries and adding new quality of life features.
In this column, we take a look at some of these upgrades, and what they might mean for the growing market.
The Golden Nugget trio leads the pack
Golden Nugget Casino
Golden Nugget Casino has added 11 new slot titles in roughly the past month, bringing its industry leading total to 294. In total, Golden Nugget Casino now features over 330 unique games.
The operator also added new filtering tabs, that allows players to search by game manufacturer. Thus, players that preference games by IGT, NYX or other manufacturers can now find their favorite games with ease.
An exclusive games section has also been added to the lobby. There are currently seven exclusives on Golden Nugget, most of which are its Live Dealer games.
Newcomer Play SugarHouse hasn’t been quite as active, only adding four new NJ online slot titles in the past several weeks. But it has been actively improving its already stellar site via other means, primarily by way of exclusive game filtering and sorting features.
Now, players can filter games by “100% Payback in Past Hour.” As the name suggests, this filter will only display titles the casino has recently taken a loss on. It’s easy to see gamblers appreciating this level of disclosure.
Another new option on SugarHouse allows players to sort by “Top Historical Win Multiplier.” This feature should be a hit with players who embrace volatility, as it predominately features games that have paid out the biggest returns on a single spin.
At present, the Gorilla Go Wild slot leads the pack, having paid out 1,131 times a player’s bet.
Turning to Betfair Casino, the old standby has only added a handful of new titles, but has become far more active on the promotional front since Black Friday.
Given this, it wouldn’t surprise to see an influx of Christmas promotions in the weeks ahead. These will sit alongside its recurrent promotions, which award a total of $6,000 weekly.
Together, the three online casinos under the Golden Nugget umbrella boast an impressive 784 games (some overlap), far more than any online gambling partnership in New Jersey.
Pala Casino embraces the NJ market
Up until fairly recently, Pala Casino ran a relatively low key operation. But a recently revamped loyalty scheme, a month long holiday promotion, and the addition of new games has vaulted the site toward the top of the NJ online casino pack.
Thanks to the inclusion of two dozen new titles in the past month, Pala now offers more games than Borgata Casino, which it shares a license with. Overall, the site ranks seventh in the industry with 192 total games, up from eighth last month.
Pala still lacks the some of the aesthetic flair and convenience of other operations, and its game selection is too heavily weighted toward slots. But with a few simple tweaks, we see it becoming an upper echelon site in 2017.
Resorts hones in on Golden Nugget for best game selection
Although late to the online gambling party, Resorts Casino has quickly closed ground between itself and the rest of the market.
In November, the operator added another eight slot terminals and two table games.
At 320 games, Resorts has more titles than any other site sans Golden Nugget Casino.
New table games hit the market
It had been a while since NJ online casino operators added new table games to their lobbies, and even longer since they’re rolled out ones worth noting. That all changed in November, when three new games hit the market:
- Blackjack by NetEnt is a solid product that allows gamblers to play up to three hands at once. The game is bound to be a hit with action junkies, as cards are dealt in rapid fire motion with little added fanfare. Game is six-deck, pays 3:2 on naturals, and allows for doubles after splits, doubles on any two cards, and one split per hand. The dealer stands on soft 17.
- European Roulette, also by NetEnt, is a clean and highly functional version of the single-zero game. In order to keep performance at a high level, frills are limited, but players can set certain preferences, like their favorite bets.
- High Stakes Blackjack is exclusive to Virgin Casino and Tropicana Casino. As far as rules go, it is without question, the single best eight-deck version of the game. The caveat: Players must bet a minimum of $50 a hand.
Other notable new games
- FairyTale Legends: Red Riding Hood: Good for beginning players, as it offers low volatility, straightforward and fun bonus features, and a relatively high return (96.33 percent on Golden Nugget Casino).
- Flowers Christmas Edition: This holiday-themed slot is not for the faint of heart, as its one of the most volatile slots on the market. The upshot: when it pays out, it pays big. Found at Golden Nugget Casino.
- Wheel of Fortune: Ultra 5 Reels: May want to steer clear of this one for prolonged stretches, as the RTP is only 92 percent. Found on Golden Nugget, Resorts, Betfair, among others.
- 1421 Voyages of Zheng He: Old school aficionados will love this Asian-themed slot. Found on Caesars Casino.
Predictions for December revenue
It’s difficult to see the addition of new games having a huge impact on revenue, if only because evidence suggests the correlation between library size and revenue is low.
For instance, sites under the Tropicana license only offer roughly 150 games, but the operation is able to consistently pull in over $3 million monthly (second in NJ). It is presumed that marketing, game quality, and promotional diversity, of which Tropicana offers plenty, are more influential factors on revenue.
The good news is that the new games that have hit the market are generally of a strong stock, offering fluid controls and high returns-to-player.
Coupled with a sea of month-long promotional events, and the propensity of players to hit the virtual terminals more during the winter months, it’s conceivable we’ll see a new monthly revenue record set in December.