Here’s a look at how the online gaming landscape has changed in New Jersey since the industry went live on November 23, 2013.
When the industry launched, there were six land-based casinos that were part of the coordinated launch of online gaming sites – Golden Nugget experienced technical problems that caused its full launch to be delayed several weeks, but I’ve included it as part of the original wave.
Fast forward just over two years, and as we head into 2016, only four of the original six operators are still involved in online gambling, but a new player launched in early 2015 to bring the current total up to five:
Borgata has been the top performing online gaming operator in New Jersey since day one. With its online gaming partner bwin.party, Borgata has been the top total online gaming and online poker revenue generator every month, and at or near the top when it comes to online casino revenue.
The only big change at Borgata since New Jersey’s iGaming launch in November of 2013 was the addition of PalaCasino.com in November of 2014. Pala, a California Indian tribe, operates under Borgata’s license (each operator can have up to six individual online gaming websites) but uses its own proprietary online casino software.
Pala is also expected to launch an online poker platform in New Jersey in the near future.
Caesars is an interesting case study in New Jersey, as the company is using a combination of all three of its Atlantic City casinos – Caesars, Harrah’s, and Bally’s – to host its online gaming websites in conjunction with its partner 888.
Unfortunately, the results have been less than spectacular, perhaps due to the bankruptcy restructuring the company is dealing with.
Caesars’ online poker sites are competitive with Borgata’s in terms of traffic, but remain a clear second fiddle when it comes to revenue. The company’s numerous online casino websites are best described as middling.
Little has changed at Caesars over the past two years, with one exception. Caesars and 888 originally operated as separate online poker sites, but in an effort to boost traffic and create better liquidity, the two sites combined the majority of their tables in early 2015.
Tropicana’s online casino has been one of the state’s most pleasant iGaming surprises. Tropicana has been at or near the top when it comes to online casino revenue since launch, and has been, by far, the most consistent online casino in terms of monthly revenue.
The only real change at Tropicana occurred in January of 2014, when the casino added a second skin, VirginCasino.com.
Now we’re getting to the operators that have gone through radical changes.
As noted above, Golden Nugget was plagued by technical glitches which delayed its launch several weeks. At first, the online casino seemed destined to be a bottom dweller, but the company’s strategic decisions ended up paying off, as it let its competitors spend like drunken sailors to attract the early adopters, while Golden Nugget waited until advertising died down before launching its own ad campaigns.
A second strategic decision in November of 2014 also paid off in spades, when Golden Nugget took in the wayward Betfair Casino. The addition of Betfair propelled Golden Nugget to the top of the online casino revenue lists. Soon after landing at Golden Nugget, Betfair shuttered its inconsequential online poker site.
The company recently went through another major change, when it became the first iGaming company in New Jersey to switch operating platforms, making the move from Bally Technology/Scientific Games to NYX at the tail end of 2015.
In November of 2013, Resorts online gaming didn’t exist.
In fact, Resorts didn’t launch its online casino until February of 2015, but it didn’t take very long for the online casino to become relevant. In July of 2015, Resorts launched a second casino skin, MoheganSunCasino.com, and the combination of the two websites are now tallying over $1 million in revenue on a monthly basis.
Resorts was late to the online gaming party in part because its online poker partner, PokerStars, failed to secure a license until September 30, 2015. Sometime this year Resorts is expected to launch a PokerStars online poker site and a PokerStars and/or Full Tilt online casino.
In terms of steps backwards, Ultimate Gaming has dealt the New Jersey online gaming industry its biggest black eye.
Ultimate was the only homegrown online gaming platform when it launched in conjunction with its Atlantic City partner Trump Taj Mahal, but the company’s decision to place a heavy emphasis on its online poker product (a product that never caught on) cost it mightily.
When Trump Taj Mahal went into bankruptcy in September of 2014, Ultimate Gaming cited this as a reason to leave New Jersey, although that exit appeared inevitable, as Ultimate Poker in Nevada closed its doors a few months later.
Trump Plaza not only shut down its online gaming website, it shuttered the whole casino in September of 2014. Fortunately for Betfair, Trump Plaza’s iGaming partner, it was able to avoid the abject failure of Ultimate Gaming and find a temporary home at Caesars, and later a permanent home at Golden Nugget.