Betfair Has Skillfully Sidestepped NJ Online Gambling Pitfalls
Online Poker Report

The Secret To Betfair’s Surprising Success In The NJ Online Casino Market

Betfair Nj online casino
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To say that the pure online gaming companies operating sites under their own brands in New Jersey’s online casino market have struggled would be an understatement.

No shortage of examples

  1. Ultimate Gaming closed its doors in New Jersey (and later in Nevada) after a mere 10 month run in the state.
  2. PartyPoker NJ has spent millions upon millions in advertising, including a historical partnership deal with the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Devils. Yet, the company accounts for only 20-25% of Borgata’s total online gaming revenue, according to Borgata’s earnings reports (with likely greater contributions on the poker side as opposed to the casino side).
  3. A second interactive gaming company has also partnered with Borgata, Pala Interactive. Pala has fared even worse. Pala is a latecomer to New Jersey and is responsible for less than 5% of Borgata’s online gaming revenue, according to sources.
  4. Like the Borgata/party partnership, 888 plays a clear second fiddle to Caesars’ brick and mortar brands, accounting for roughly 30% of Caesars’ iGaming revenue.
  5. So too is VirginCasino.com the red-headed stepchild to Tropicana in their online gaming partnership. Virgin is responsible for about 30-35%, perhaps as high as 40%, of Tropicana’s revenue per an industry source. The exact revenue distribution for these two partnerships is unclear.

Betfair a clear outlier

There is one exception to this rule: Betfair NJ.

Betfair, now operating under the Golden Nugget’s license, has managed to avoid the struggles of 888, partypoker, and other iGaming brands in New Jersey.

The Betfair online casino generates revenue numbers as strong as New Jersey’s land-based casino brands, with the company reportedly responsible for roughly 50% of Golden Nugget’s total online gaming revenue – which would equate to about $1.6-$1.7 million in April 2015.

It wasn’t always this way. The Betfair Casino got off to a slow start, but as the market has matured more and more players are finding themselves at Betfair.

Betfair is the only non-brick and mortar-branded iGaming site that can be clearly termed a success in New Jersey.

Here is a comparison of the percentage of revenue generated by the brick and mortar casino properties and their associated iGaming brands* from April 2015 (revenue in $1,000,000):

Betfair rev

*These numbers are unofficial and are derived from a combination of insider information, earnings reports, and rough estimates.

What explains Betfair’s success?

The question is: What accounts for Betfair’s ability to compete with New Jersey’s brick and mortar brands?

Assuming it’s not a superior product, platform, games, or more lucrative promotions that are driving people to Betfair’s online casino (New Jersey’s online casinos are fairly similar on these fronts, and Betfair arguably lags when it comes to mobile options), there are several possibilities for Betfair’s success.

Betfair was an early marketer

Betfair was one of the first online gaming brands to market before the launch of online gaming in New Jersey, launching its LetsPlayNJ.com website in October of 2013. The company also poured advertising dollars into the market via billboards, Internet, radio, and TV ads.

That being said, Betfair’s advertising isn’t enough to explain its success, particularly when you consider the company was initially partnered with an absolute dud in Trump Plaza.

Trump Plaza Casino shuttered its doors in September, at which time Betfair was allowed to operate indecently by the DGE for a short period of time. This was followed by a temporary stop at Caesars, before Betfair found a permanent home at Golden Nugget.

The appearance of less invasive registration

Another possibility has to do with optics.

Recently Betfair Casino made a slight change to its registration policy. Players are now required to divulge only the final four digits of their Social Security numbers at registration. Betfair previously asked players to enter their full nine-digit Social Security numbers.

As I detailed in this column, the decision to request only the final four digits of a customer’s SSN isn’t less invasive, as the full nine digit number is verified independently by cross-checking databases with the final four digits along with the other information collected at registration.

However, in the minds of many players, the collection of just the final four digits gives the appearance of a less invasive registration process.

Is TVG the key?

The real reason behind Betfair’s success in New Jersey may stem from the company’s other New Jersey business, TVG.

TVG is a horse racing television channel powered by Betfair, and available in roughly 35 million homes in the U.S.

TVG also has a web presence at TVG.com, where it is clearly associated with Betfair. Betfair’s TVG is also the platform provider for 4NJBets, the only horse racing account-wagering platform in the state.

Anyone logging on to these website will see the Betfair brand prominently displayed at TVG.com, and less noticeably scattered throughout the pages of 4NJBets.com.

Betfair’s involvement in New Jersey’s horse racing industry (through the TVG channel, 4NJBets online wagering site, and signage at New Jersey racecourses) may have given it a branding advantage over overseas competitors in New Jersey.

Image Andrew F. Kazmierski / Shutterstock.com

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Steve Ruddock
- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.