Resorts Pulls Even With Golden Nugget For NJ Online Casino Industry’s Largest Game Library: Does It Even Matter?

Posted By Robert DellaFave on February 27, 2017 - Last Updated on March 1, 2017

[toc]In something of a surprise development, Golden Nugget Casino no longer has the NJ online casino industry’s largest selection of games, at least not on desktop.

That title now belongs to Resorts Casino, which recently shoveled on a slew of new slots to bring its total to 367 versus Golden Nugget’s 366.

With the two now in a virtual deadlock, is Golden Nugget in danger of also losing its position as the industry’s top revenue generator?

Based on this one variable alone, we’d argue no.

Striking parallels

Golden Nugget and Resorts have much in common, on both the land-based and online casino sides.

Both brick and mortar venues are casinos on the comeback trail, with Golden Nugget revenue climbing 9.6 percent from January 2016 and January 2017, and Resorts’ revenue surging 8.6 percent over an equivalent span.

Admittedly, the Golden Nugget is the stronger of the two brands, and its revenue reflects that ($18.3 mm in revenue for January 2017 versus $12.4 for Resorts).

But they still effectively belong to the same tier of casino in Atlantic City.

On the online casino side, the similarities are even more striking. First, their game libraries are nearly identical, with significant overlap and just a smattering of noticeable differences:

  • Resorts boasts nearly a double-digit lead in the slots department.
  • Resorts and Golden Nugget are tied for the number of table games. However, these numbers are deceiving as both sites feature multiple blackjack games that are near carbon copies of one another.
  • The two sites support similar video poker selections; both are among New Jersey’s more diverse, and the games share similar pay tables.
  • Golden Nugget supports a couple more NJ mobile casino games.
  • The one glaring difference is that Golden Nugget has rolled out live dealer games, and Resorts has not. Six months after launch, Live Dealer games remain exclusive to Golden Nugget.

The parallels don’t stop there. Both Golden Nugget and Resorts offer strong loyalty and VIP programs — although Resorts’ scheme is more fleshed out.

Golden Nugget gets the nod when it comes to promotions, but neither casino walks a straight line in that regard.

To elaborate, both venues tend to shy away from traditional match offers in favor of cashback offers, and loyalty point multipliers on new games. The duo offer nearly identical NJ online gambling welcome packages.

Finally, the two casinos feature fresh and feature-rich interfaces, on both their desktop and mobile platforms.

Given all this, it initially strikes as odd that Golden Nugget absolutely crushes Resorts with regard to average generated per game.

The deep revenue divide

In January 2017, the Golden Nugget generated an industry leading $4.78 million in revenue, compared to Resorts’ $2.21 million.

However, because the NJ DGE groups revenue by license holder, and not individual NJ gambling website, these figures are not an accurate reflection of site revenue.

Two other brands reside under the Golden Nugget umbrella (Play SugarHouse and Betfair Casino), and one other under Resorts (Mohegan Sun Casino).

In its most recent US iGaming Tracker, Eilers & Krejcik estimates that Golden Nugget Casino accounts for 50 percent of the licensee’s market share, which works out to roughly $2.39 million generated last month.

By contrast, Resorts Casino comprises an approximate 65 percent license share, or $1.44 million.

That represents an alarming disparity, with Resorts Casino pulling in 39.7 percent less revenue than its rival.

What’s more, the revenue gap is larger than it was just six months ago, despite Resorts supporting a smaller game library than Golden Nugget at the time.

From this, we can neatly conclude that game library size is not the say all end all when it comes to a site’s ability to generate revenue.

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Making sense out of it all

We have come up with a few hypothesis as to why Golden Nugget is outperforming Resorts by such a large margin, that taken collectively may justify the gap:

Operator experience

Golden Nugget has had skin in the NJ online casino game since early 2014. By contrast, Resorts was a latecomer to the party — it launched in Feb. 2015, at a time when the industry was already becoming saturated.

Uniqueness

Golden Nugget Casino does not share a skin with any other site. Resorts Casino is a mirror of Mohegan Sun Casino.

What’s interesting here is that the composite revenue of Resorts/Mohegan is nearly on par with that of Golden Nugget Casino ($2.21 million v. $2.39 million in Jan. 2017).

Live dealer

It’s not be a huge revenue producer on its own, but Live Dealer games may be serving as a gateway to Golden Nugget’s digital casino games, also drawing players that are accustomed to playing for higher stakes.

It’s not mere coincidence that Golden Nugget revenue is up 37.6 percent since August.

Affiliate ties

It’s plausible that Golden Nugget Casino is generating more affiliate-based traffic than Resorts.

We also examined the sites’ available depositing options, but Resorts nipped out Golden Nugget in that category.

What does the future hold?

We anticipate both Golden Nugget and Resorts to remain aggressive on the online casino front.

Both entities are expected to integrate virtual sports into their respective lineups sometime this year.

On its own VS won’t spark a revenue boon — Golden Nugget VP of Online Gaming Thomas Winter predicts a 3-5 percent uptick — but just as Live Dealer did, VS could drive a new subset of players.

We also suspect that both casinos will actively add slots on a semi-regular basis. However, the libraries have grown so large that new rollouts may be subject to diminishing returns.

Efforts might be better spent on format diversification, because it doesn’t appear that piling on new slots is having much of an impact on operator revenue.

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Robert DellaFave

Robert is a game designer and avid poker player. He is a contributor to numerous online publications focused on legal online gambling sites in New Jersey. He also writes about the legal US online poker market.

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