Pala Casino (PalaCasino.com) was a relative latecomer to the NJ online gambling party, having launched a full year after the first batch of regulated sites went live in November 2013. In November 2014, it became the third online casino to make use of the Borgata’s internet gaming license, along with Borgata Casino and NJ Party Poker.
The online casino is operated by Pala Interactive, which is the online gaming arm of the Pala Band of Mission Indians, a California-based tribe which owns and operates the Pala Casino Spa and Resort in Pala, California.
Pala’s launch was rather subdued, but of late, the online casino has greatly refined and expanded its product, today offering a multitude of online slots, video poker, and table games. It even supports its own dedicated bingo site (PalaBingoUSA.com).
Pala may have gotten off to a slow start, but since embracing the NJ online casino market, the site has really come into its own. Its platform still has something to be desired, but the combination of a strong game library, revamped promotional schedule, clever free daily spin mechanism, and ties to the strongest casino brand on the east coast in the Borgata, make it a destination worth visiting.
Pala Online Casino Review
- Casino Bonus
- Game Selection
Pala Casino might not be the flashiest NJ online casino, but thanks to its growing game library, diverse banking options, enticing promotional schedule, and solid no-deposit bonus, it ranks right up there with some of the bigger names in the industry. The online casino and its companion bingo site operate under the Borgata’s New Jersey online gambling license.
Pala Casino is operated by Pala Interactive, and is associated with the Pala Band of Mission Indians, who own and operate a successful land-based casino in San Diego County, California
Pala Casino signup bonus
$30 free + free spin
Pala Casino has rolled out the red carpet for its new registrants, with an aggressive and multifaceted no-deposit bonus.
Players who sign up for the site will receive the following, all before making their first real-money deposit:
- $10 casino bonus
- An additional $5 casino bonus
- $15 worth of free Pala Bingo tickets (150 tickets, valued at $0.10 each)
- Free spin on the Pala Casino Million Dollar Slot Machine, with a guaranteed prize of $5, and a top prize of $1 million
There is no bonus code associated with this offer.
Players must wager the casino bonus portion of the offer 20x on slots, or 100 times on other casino games before it clears to their real-money wallets. Wagers on Craps do not count toward the requirement.
Admittedly, that’s a rather hefty requirement. But the good news is that the Bingo Bucks are not subject to the same stringent guidelines. They do expire after 30 days, however.
In total, this no-deposit offer is worth a minimum of $35, which is about the best players will find anywhere in New Jersey.
100 percent match up to $500
Pala Casino will match a player’s first deposit ($10 minimum) up to $500, dollar for dollar. As is the case with the no-deposit bonus, there is no deposit code necessary.
The wagering requirements on this offer are tough, 20x on slots and 100x on other games. Again, Craps is excluded, the presumption being that players could exploit the offer by only betting the Pass line, and taking max odds in the back for even money.
For slots that works out to a 5 percent cashback deal, which given the average slot returns in NJ, may or may not be favorable for the player. The 1 percent cashback on other games can grant a player a slim and temporary edge, pending the player is playing select video poker or blackjack games, and knows optimal strategy.
Players have 30 days from issuance to clear the bonus, otherwise all remaining funds will be forfeited.
All told, the middle-of-the-road monetary cap and steep turnover requirements render this an average first deposit offer, relative to others in the market. Certainly not the best, but fairly competitive.
Pala online casino NJ platform
Pala’s proprietary platform is definitely among the weaker aspects of its online casino product, but that’s not to say it’s a deal breaker. Only that when compared to other aspects of the site, it lags.
The aesthetics of the lobby are a bit drab, featuring a plain black background, antiquated looking graphics, and smallish game icons. There’s also a dearth of filtering options, which was something that could be overlooked when the site was small, but not so much now that the lobby houses nearly 200 games.
The sliding scroll bar for slots really needs to go.
Now the positive:
- In terms of account management options, Pala Casino is right up there with the NJ’s best.
- The “Last Played” and “Recommended” options are a nice touch, even if the recommended games don’t always jive with player preferences.
- Quick depositing options are available.
- Players can view the site in Spanish.
Also, if Pala’s recent revamp of its main NJ online casino page is any indicator, then there’s certainly reason to be hopeful that the team will also give the main platform a facelift sometime soon.
Pala Casino software
As mentioned above, Pala utilizes a proprietary platform. It’s also partnered with a variety of top-flight providers such as IGT, NextGen, and NYX. These partnerships have paid dividends, as they’ve allowed the small operator to keep up with the industry’s bigwigs.
Pala has also branched out into social gaming, via its MyPalaCasino product. The site is intended to drive brick & mortar traffic, but may also prove effective at attracting players to its real-money NJ casino.
There are currently two ways to access the Pala online casino client:
- Browser-based client: For players who desire the full Pala online casino experience, playing from a PC or Mac is the way to go. From popular browsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari, all the site’s games and quality-of-life features are accessible.
- Mobile device: A more compact version of the software is available for both iOS and Android powered devices. The Android version can be downloaded directly from the site, while players must navigate to iTunes to grab the iOS version (requires iOS 8.0 or higher).
Pala Android app / iOS mobile app
What’s interesting about Pala’s dedicated mobile app is that in terms of visuals and layout, it is more appealing than its desktop counterpart. We’d even argue that the layout is more intuitive on mobile, which is a rarity.
All quality-of-life features, of which many have made the crossover, are typically no more than a click or two away. And from the lobby, players can view their VIP progress bar, a feature not available on the desktop client.
Game and game format icons are large and aesthetically pleasing. Although, as is the case on desktop, navigating to a preferred slot can be an arduous task, with no apparent rhyme or reason behind the default ordering. A few basic filtering options would easily propel the layout from good to great status.
There are approximately 85 games available on Pala Casino’s mobile app, which is well above par for the industry. Of these, the overwhelming majority are slots, but there are a handful of video poker, blackjack, and other table games sprinkled in. The addition of Craps is a nice touch.
The trade-off for the apps enhanced functionality and vast game library is speed. Even on modern devices, the app can be slow to load.
Furthermore, some games must be downloaded before they can be played, which may be a deterrent — especially for players with less than optimal WiFi connections.
Several games wouldn’t load, and a few times, the app told us that our selected game wasn’t available on mobile. Which begs the question: Why list it in the first place?
There are no also no free play option, at least not one we could easily find.
Overall, the Pala Casino app has its fair share of strengths, and is certainly the basis of a top-tier NJ online casino mobile app. But there are still a few kinks to work out.
Pala Casino operates under the Borgata AC online gambling license. It’s entry into the mix brought the number of sites under the Borgata umbrella up to four — the others being BorgataCasino.com, BorgataPoker.com, and nj.partypoker.com. More recently, PalaBingoUSA.com became the Borgata’s fifth online occupant.
Latching on to the Borgata was a prudent move, as Borgata AC is far and away Atlantic City’s most brand recognizable and profitable casino.
The grand opening of the land-based Borgata in 2003 ushered in a short-lived age of prosperity for the boardwalk city. That Golden Age would come to a screeching end by 2008. But even in the city’s darkest days, the Borgata remained a consistent performer.
These days, the Borgata continues to thrive, both as a land-based casino and online gambling operator. The brick & mortar casino consistently wins more than double its closest competitor, and the online operation continues to lead the NJ industry in revenue, with nearly $100 million won to date.
Pala’s ties to the Borgata are only one ingredient in its recipe for success. Perhaps even more important are its premier online gaming providers.
In addition to teaming up with heavy hitters, such as IGT and NYX Gaming, Pala has embraced up-and-comers like Rocketfrog — the latter of which provides the software for its bingo operation.
Its this juxtaposition of old and new, along with Pala’s own extensive experience in the casino business, that has helped it to grow its share of the Borgata’s total online casino revenue.
Game selection at Pala Casino
At present, Pala online casino boasts roughly 200 casino games, the overwhelming majority of them online slots. The rest of the games are a mix of video poker games, of which there are eight, and table games (eight, including blackjack, roulette, baccarat, and craps).
Followers of the site might have noticed that Pala Casino has dramatically increased their game library of late, and they wouldn’t be wrong. Just 12 months ago, the site ranked low among NJ online casino sites in terms of raw game selection. Now, it sits firmly in the middle of the pack.
Pala Casino video poker
Pala Casino offers eight video poker variants, most of them by Game King, but with a few proprietary products mixed in.
- Jacks or Better (Pala)
- Deuces Wild (Pala)
- Deuces & Joker Wild (Pala)
- Bonus Poker (Game King)
- Double Bonus Poker (Game King)
- Double Double Bonus Poker (Game King)
- Triple Play (Game King)
- Five Play (Game King)
All the single line Game King variants offer the best pay schedules allowed in NJ, returning approximately 99 – 99.2 percent. The Jacks or Better variant sports the 9/6 full pay table, returning 99.54 percent under optimal playing conditions. For players looking to stretch their gambling dollar, these are some of their best bets.
Deuces Wild and Deuces & Joker Wild (exclusive) are among the more thrilling video poker games. But these particular variants are nothing worth getting excited about, offering bottom barrel payout tables (~97 percent return).
The Triple Play and Five Play games also offer very poor pay tables relative to industry standards, for all available games, and are best avoided.
The recommended games are generally provided at stakes as low as $0.10, and offer full payouts on Royal Flushes at all levels.
Playing blackjack at Pala online casino
At present, Pala Casino offers just three blackjack games.
Blackjack and Blackjack Multiplayer are virtually identical, only differences being the latter allows for multiplayer play and has a tighter bet spread ($1 – $100). The bet spread for regular Blackjack is $0.50 – $2,500, with up to three hands in play.
The chosen rule set for these games is not necessarily unfavorable, but certainly odd. Player-friendly rules such as late surrender, double after split, and double on any two cards are paired with bad rules like hit on soft 17, split up to two hands only, and eight deck shoes.
All told, if makes for a fairly average blackjack game with a house edge of 0.61 percent.
Then there’s Sidebet Blackjack. The rules for this game are similar to Blackjack, with a couple of exceptions:
- There is no late surrender option.
- The dealer must stand on all 17s.
Together, these rules lower the house edge to 0.49 percent.
As the name implies, Sidebet Blackjack comes stocked with a batch of fun, but generally low return and volatile, sidebet options:
- Mega Match: Pays if the players first two cards are suited, and more if players are dealt KQ suited.
- Blackjack Attack: Offers players the option to enhance their payouts on naturals. Pays 18-1 on a dealt blackjack.
- Cash Queens: Pays whenever players make 20 on their first two cards — more if the cards are suited or paired.
- Crazy Sevens: For this sidebet, the more 7s dealt to players, the more they’ll be paid. Augmented payouts for suited 7s.
- Pair Play: All pairs (on first two player cards) pay 12-1.
Again, these games feature high house edges. But on the upside, they do give players a shot at big returns on small investments, which is something the traditional game does not.
The bet spread for Sidebet Blackjack is $1 – $500.
Pala Casino slots
Pala Casino is an up-and-comer in the slots department, currently holding its own against all but industry’s heaviest hitters. At the time of this writing, the site features 182 online slots, but that figure appears to grow by the week.
For perspective, six NJ online casinos have more slot options, six have fewer. And among non-Atlantic City casino branded sites, Pala Casino ranks fourth out of sixth.
But whereas the size of Pala’s game library ranks about average, the quality of the slots is anything but. Old standbys such as Davinci Diamonds and Wheel of Fortune Triple Extreme Spin sit alongside new classics like Guns N Roses, Twin Spin, and Jack Hammer.
And if a new slot debuts in the NJ market, it’s likely that Pala Casino features it.
Pala Casino also features its fair share of exclusive slots, which helps to differentiate it from the pack a bit. The slots are pretty much all of the penny slot variety, offering players the chance to gamble for as little as $0.20 per spin. High rollers will be appeased with the available max bets, which often exceed $100.
Other games at Pala online casino
Players that preference other game types have a few options:
- European Roulette
- 3 Wheel Roulette
- American Roulette
- No Commission Baccarat
Of the three roulette options, European Roulette is generally the best bet, as the wheel features just one zero. Minimum bets start at just one dollar.
For players that crave action, 3 Wheel Roulette is a serviceable choice. In this triple wheel game, players have the option to win up to 1,200 times their wager. Also, they’ll have three chances to win on every wager placed.
As an added perk, 3 Wheel Roulette is a single zero game — meaning the house edge won’t bleed gamblers dry.
American Roulette is best avoided, due to the presence of a double zero.
Moving on to other games, Craps offers favorable payouts on Pass and Don’t Pass bets, but only allows 2x odds bets, regardless of the point. Additionally, Craps wagers do not count toward unlocking bonuses. Not the best.
No Commission Baccarat generates its house edge by only paying out 1:2 on Banker wins with an 8. This causes the house edge on Banker bets to swell all the way up to 4 percent.
Player bets retain the same 1.24 percent house edge as regular Baccarat, and are therefore the recommended bet. Avoid the Tie bet at all costs — the house edge is over 14 percent.
Pala online casino promotions
New player bonus at Pala Casino
What you get
- $At least $35 free, as a $15 casino bonus, $15 worth of Bingo tickets, and $5 guaranteed on the Million Dollar Spin
- A 100 percent match up to $500. This bonus, and the no-deposit offer are subject to a 20x wagering requirement on slots, and 100x on all other games except Craps.
In terms of the monetary cap, Pala’s no-deposit bonus is certainly one of the best offered by a NJ online casino site. New sign-ups will receive at least $35 , whereas $10 – $20 is the industry norm.
There are two caveats, however. And they’re rather big ones:
- Players will have to meet a high turnover requirement before cashing out any remaining portion of the bonus.
- $15 of the bonus is allocated as Bingo Bucks.
In all likelihood, players will find themselves using the guaranteed $20 casino bonus solely to try out Pala’s vast selection of games. Cashing out will require a fair bit of luck.
The Bingo Bucks work a big differently, as any winnings derived are immediately credited to player accounts in real money — no stringent wagering requirements.
Moving on to the first-deposit offer, the $500 cap and 20x turnover requirements on slots are nothing to get too excited about. Other sites either offer more money with similar wagering requirements, or less money, but with more relaxed clearance thresholds.
That’s not to say players shouldn’t partake, but expectations should be modest.
Pala Casino VIP Program
What you get
- Earn Status Points by playing real-money games, and work up the Privileges ladder, earning cash bonuses along the way.
- Earn Reward Points, which can be converted to cash at a rate of $1 per 5,000 RPs.
On the surface, the Pala Privileges loyalty program is not unlike most other loyalty programs, in that players can climb status levels and exchange rewards points for cash. It’s just that the particulars of the program are a bit dizzying.
That’s because players earn points at widely varying rates. For instance, Status Points are accrued according to the following matrix:
- Slots: 20 to 86 points per $20 wagered
- Video poker: 4 to 39 points per $20 wagered
- Table games: 4 to 52 points per $20 wagered
The assumption is that higher house edge games award more points.
As players earn points, they will move up the loyalty ranks. Thresholds as follows:
- Privileges: Everyone starts here.
- Pearl Privileges: 1,500 monthly points
- Gold Privileges: 7,500 monthly points
- Platinum Privileges: 50,000 monthly points
- Elite Privileges: 250,000 monthly points
Loyalty statuses reset each month.
There are two primary benefits to achieving a higher loyalty tier:
- Better Status and Reward Point earn rates for bingo
- Milestone Bonuses
Milestone Bonuses are awarded as a casino bonus upon reaching a higher tier:
- Pearl milestone: $5
- Gold milestone: $15
- Platinum milestone: $100
- Elite milestone: $500
The bonuses are subject to a 1x wagering requirement and expire in 30 days:
Players can also earn Rewards Points, which are accumulated at similar, but not equivalent rates, as Status Points:
- Slots: 32 to 138 points per $20 wagered
- Video poker: 7 to 63 points per $20 wagered
- Table games: 7 to 84 points per $20 wagered
Rewards Points can be exchanged for cash bonuses at a clip of 5,000 RPs per $1.
So, what percentage cashback can a dedicated player expect to receive from this program? The answer is “a variable amount,” but we can get an idea by making a couple of generalizations.
Case study #1: Best case
In a best case scenario, where a slot awards 86 Status Points and 138 Rewards Points per $20 wagered, players will have to wager $58,139 to reach Elite Status and earn $620 worth of Milestone Bonuses.
Along the way, they’ll earn just over 400k Rewards Points, which can be converted to $80 cash, for a total of $700 cashback.
This works out to a total 1.2 percent cashback deal, which is great by online casino standards. But remember, this is for what is presumably the lowest payback slot in the casino.
Case study #2: Worst case
Now, assume a video poker or blackjack player earns just 4 Status Points and 7 Rewards Points per $20 wagered. This player will have to wager $1.25 million to earn $620 in Milestone Bonuses.
The player will also earn 437,500 Rewards Points, equivalent to $87.50 in cash, bringing the total cashback up to $707.50. That works out to a rather negligible 0.057 percent cashback.
These examples are just meant to provide an idea of what players can expect from the program.
In short, Pala Privileges is about on par with most NJ online casino loyalty programs, with lesser games offering better rewards, and low house edge games awarding only a minuscule amount of cash back.
Other recurring promotions
Free daily spin for $1 million
Log-in daily, and take a free shot at $1 million. Players will be treated to this offer the moment they sign-on, but are only eligible for the Grand Prize if they deposited $50, and have a cash balance of $10.
However, all players are eligible for one of many other casino bonuses, ranging in value from $1 – $1,000. All winnings are paid out as casino bonuses subject to a 20x wagering requirement on slots, except the Grand Prize, which is paid out in 40 annual installments of $25,000.
On Monday – Friday, between 12 pm and 2 pm, deposit at least $25 using the promotional code POWERLUNCH and wager $25, and receive 25 Bonus Spins on the $1 Million Slot Machine.
Pala has rolled out a new recurrent event, where players are treated to a new promotion most days of the week:
- Monday Match: Receive a 25 percent match deposit bonus up to $50
- The Tuesday 10: earn 250 Status Points and receive 10 free spins on the $1 Million Slot Machine
- Daily Spins Wednesdays: Make a deposit of at least $25 using the deposit code SPINSWED and receive a number of $1 Million Slot Machine spins, with the amount detetrmined by loyalty tier.
- Mobile Thursdays: Play on the PalaCasino.com smartphone app and receive 3x Rewards Points. Wager at least $30 and be entered into a weekly drawing for a $100 casino bonus.
- The Friday 50: Receive a 50 percent match deposit bonus up to $50
- Slots Saturday: Earn 10X Rewards Points on a featured slot machine
Cashiering at Pala online casino
One area in which Pala Casino truly excels is in payment processing. Given the breadth of depositing options available, there’s very little chance that players won’t be able to load funds on to the site. That’s not something most NJ casino sites can claim.
Depositing options include:
- E-check (ACH)
- Visa/MasterCard credit cards
- Pay Cash at 7-Eleven
- Online banking
- Play+ pre-paid card
- Cash at the Borgata cage
Most deposits are subject to a $10 minimum, with funds hitting accounts immediately.
Worth noting is the inclusion of the PayPal method, which is not present on most NJ sites. This should serve as a solid option for players who have difficulty depositing with ACH or credit cards.
The Play+ pre-paid option is also recommended, as it boasts exceedingly high success rates. And if all else fails, players can hop down to their local 7-Eleven or to the land-based Borgata and deposit with cash.
Withdrawal methods are also flexible:
- E-check (ACH)
- Check by mail
- Play+ pre-paid card
- Cash at the Borgata cage
Withdrawals via check by mail will take approximately 5 -7 days to reach a player’s physical mailbox. Other options are quicker, ranging from a few minutes (Borgata Cashier) to a couple of days (ACH).
Players who wish to withdraw using PayPal must first use the method to make a deposit. This is required to ensure player accounts are verified, and that Pala is sending funds to the same account used to deposit.
Pala Casino customer support
Pala offers 24/7 email support, as well as round-the-clock hotline and live chat support. The presence of live chat is not immediately apparent, as players will first have to click on “Support” and then “Support Center” to find the option.
A rather extensive FAQ section is also available from the client, and appears to be well maintained.