A Simple Change Could Improve Revenue At New Jersey’s Legal Online Gambling Sites

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It’s just about axiomatic that New Jersey could be making more money from regulated online gambling.

Payment processing, geolocation and product quality are three of the most commonly cited forces depressing revenue. All are improving, but at a sluggish pace unlikely to abate anytime soon.

In the meantime, there’s a simple step New Jersey operators could take to improve revenue: adding uniform trust seals to their online poker and casino sites, a feature curiously absent in the status quo.

The quick case for trust seals

The trust seal I have in mind would:

  1. Clearly identify the site as legal and licensed by the State of New Jersey.
  2. Be placed prominently (above the fold) on every page.
  3. Link to an official page on the State of New Jersey website that lays out the basics of regulated online gambling.

I think there are three outcomes this trust seal can drive: increased consumer education, legal / illegal delineation and improving conversion rates.

The consumer education opportunity

We’ve all read the dismal assessments concerning consumer awareness in New Jersey.

In terms of the percentage of residents aware of legal online gambling in NJ, I’ve heard numbers ranging from 10% to 50%. Our own internal research suggests that ~60% of males age 25-44 are unaware that regulated, legal online poker and casino games exist.

A trust seal won’t reach all, or even most, of these consumers. But it will reach some. And it will also increase the level of education among existing customers, making those customers more effective, reliable ambassadors for the product within their own social sphere.

Delineate legal and illegal sites

Executives at nearly every regulated site have bemoaned the revenue lost to illegal sites.

Fair enough; offshore sites enjoy lower (or no) taxes and regulatory overhead, offer players an easier sign up process and, in the case of poker, a wider array of games to choose from.

The one thing that regulated sites can offer that an illegal site can’t: the protections and assurances that come with being licensed and regulated by the DGE.

But the industry has done an incomplete job to date of communicating that difference to consumers. A standardized trust seal deployed by all regulated sites would help teach consumers the critical, but not always readily apparent, differences between legal and illegal sites and provide consumers with a tool to quickly distinguish between the two.

Improve conversions

A reasonable smattering of (admittedly largely industry-underwritten) research (see here, here, and here) suggests that trust seals help consumers to bridge trust gaps with online retailers.

And logic suggests that a clear government endorsement of online gambling – an activity that has been mired in legal ambiguity for over a decade – could easily provide the necessary nudge to consumers on the fence about playing online, especially with a brand they might be less familiar with – and especially again when that brand asks for things like bank information and social security numbers.

Absolute lack of trust seal consistency in NJ’s status quo

As the table below generates, there’s an almost-improbable lack of consistency among NJ’s regulated poker and casino sites when it comes to use of trust seals.

A few quick stats also make the point:

  • NJ’s eight unique operators use five different trust seals.
  • Two link nowhere, and the three that do link somewhere all link to different pages.
  • Only one operator places the seal above the fold.
  • Two operators use no seal at all.
SiteWhich sealWhereClickableLinks to...
Borgata CasinoDGE LogoFooterYesDGE Home page
Borgata PokerDGE LogoFooterYesDGE Home page
Party NJDGE LogoFooterYesDGE Home page
Harrah's CasinoNonen/an/an/a
888 MainNJ State Logo w/ license numberAbove foldYesInternal page with information
888 CasinoNJ State Logo w/ license numberAbove foldYesInternal page with information
888 PokerNJ State Logo w/ license numberAbove foldYesInternal page with information
Caesars CasinoNJ State Logo, no licenseBelow foldNon/a
Golden NuggetUS flag icon, text of license numberFooterNon/a
TropicanaText link to DGEFooterYesIGP holder list
VirginText link to DGEFooterYesIGP holder list

Examples of trust seal use

Different seal types

Here’s a quick sampling of the various seals used by sites. These are actual size as they appear on the sites:

NJ online casino site trust seal examples

Trust seal placement

As mentioned earlier, placement is a major issue. Consider Borgata, which drops the seal down at the very bottom of a fairly long page:

Borgata online casino trust seal use example

Contrast that with 888, which features the seal in a prime piece of home page real estate, while giving consumers an additional opportunity to access the same information via the US flag icon / New Jersey text:

888 NJ casino trust seal example

- Chris is the publisher of OnlinePokerReport.com. Grove also serves as a consultant to various stakeholders in the regulated market for online gambling in the United States.
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