Having A Big Game Library Helps, But Isn't The Say All End All When It Comes To A NJ Online Casino's Success
Online Poker Report

Game Wars: Golden Nugget First NJ Online Casino To 400 Games, Others Quickly Follow Suit

Golden Nugget NJ online games
On Thursday, Golden Nugget Casino cleared a major milestone, becoming the first New Jersey online casino to support 400 games in its library.

At last count, players on the site now have 401 slot, video poker, and table game options to engorge themselves on.

Not to be outdone, Resorts Casino and Mohegan Sun Casino also celebrated the same milestone.

The duo’s achievement comes off as even more remarkable considering the sister sites weren’t in operation until 2015. Golden Nugget launched in late 2013.

The gap is widening

All three online properties have taken an aggressive stance with regard to library expansion. So much so that they have pulled head and shoulders above the rest of the NJ online casino pack.

In fourth place is Caesars Casino, which currently features 332 games in its library. Caesars is followed closely by committed newcomer Play SugarHouse, which already boasts 317 titles, despite having only launched in September 2016.

At that juncture there is a significant fall off:

  • Betfair Casino, Pala Casino, and Borgata Casino all have between 200 and 250 titles.
  • Tropicana Casino and Virgin Casino follow them up, with roughly 160 games apiece.
  • Harrah’s Casino, 888 Casino, and surprisingly, PokerStars NJ Casino bring up the rear. All of these offer a pretty paltry collection of 60 games or less.

Slots dominate the new additions

Outside of its Live Dealer rollout, nearly all of Golden Nugget Casino’s new additions over the past year were slot titles. The same applies (perhaps even more so) for Resorts and Mohegan, and really just about every online casino in the marketplace.

There’s good reason why slots are so dominant online:

Revenue generator

Slots are an online casino’s bread and butter. The pace of play is swifter than table games, and the returns are generally lower. That said, NJ online casino slots offer significantly higher returns than physical terminals at Atlantic City and other live gambling destinations.

Familiarity

Land-based patrons are more likely to identify with online slots, which play out essentially the same online and live, than a digital table game. Going further, it’s not uncommon for online slot libraries to feature near-exact replicas of slots found on casino floors.

Supply

There are only so many blackjack and roulette variants an online casino can offer (although NJ online casinos have shown a willingness to test these bounds). By contrast, manufacturers produce new slots by the bucketload.

At present, nearly seven-eighths of Golden Nugget’s game library consists of slots. At Resorts/Mohegan, the ratio is closer to 9:1.

Is game library size an indicator of success for a NJ online casino?

In order to gauge the impact of library size on revenue, we first estimated how much revenue the average terminal generates for each of the five largest NJ online casinos.

These values were derived by first looking at a licensee’s revenue for March 2017, multiplying that figure by the brand’s estimated contribution, and dividing by the number of games. Credit goes to Eilers & Krejcik Gaming (US iGaming Industry Update – 2017) for the contribution estimates.

  • Golden Nugget: $7,700 average per terminal
  • Resorts: $5,800
  • Mohegan: $2,400
  • Caesars: $4,400
  • Play SugarHouse: $2,300

From this, we gather that average revenue per terminal varies widely from site to site. If game library size were a primary indicator of revenue, then it’s likely these figures would fall within a much tighter range.

Clearly, other variables play a larger role.

Which factors matter?

It’s impossible to know with precision how much each component of an online casino’s business contributes to its success. But from our analysis, we suspect the following carry the most weight:

Branding

Atlantic City casino brands tend to do much better than outside entities. Case in point, Resorts and Mohegan have nearly equivalent game libraries, but Resorts is estimated to generate nearly 2.5x more per terminal. There are exceptions to this rule, however, with Betfair Casino a notable example.

Quality

The old adage “quality over quantity” certainly applies to the NJ online casino industry. Take for example Tropicana Casino, which only supports 160 games. But Tropicana features a healthy number of high-return titles, and a fair share of exclusives.

It averages an estimated $19.3k in monthly revenue per terminal — more than any other NJ online casino site. As an aside, Trop’s figures also suggest that as a game library expands, new titles suffer from diminishing returns.

Marketing

The most successful NJ online casinos are very active on the marketing front, and tend to roll out at least one high value promotion per week.

Software

These days, most NJ online casinos are competent when it comes to cashiering and game selection, so they must stand out via other means. Software is one of those means. Standout sites offer sleek, feature-rich products, available for both PC/Mac and Android/iOS devices.

Lastly, it’s important to note that while game library size doesn’t seem to play a huge role in determining success, the regular introduction of new titles and especially new formats, does.

A firm example would be the launch of Live Dealer Games on Golden Nugget Casino.

On their own, Live Dealer Games are probably not a huge revenue generator. But the format does appear to have lured players to the casino — Golden Nugget AC revenue is up some 69 percent since its launch late last summer.

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Robert DellaFave
- Robert DellaFave is a game designer and avid poker player. He writes for several online poker publications and dreams of one day programming a poker simulation clever enough to beat the pros. Read more by following @RobertDellaFave on Twitter.