Golden Nugget is leaps and bounds ahead of Borgata and other online casinos in NJ
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Is Golden Nugget’s Lead In New Jersey Online Casinos Insurmountable?

Golden Nugget lead NJ

New Jersey set a new online gambling revenue record in January, with the state’s five online gambling operators amassing nearly $22 million in online casino and online poker revenue.

All five operators lay claim to considerable market shares, but one is outperforming all of its competitors by leaps and bounds: Golden Nugget.

Golden Nugget achieved 12 consecutive months of at least $5 million in online casino revenue. In six of those months, the Golden Nugget online casino surpassed $6 million in revenue, including a $7.3 million month in January.

To put that into perspective, no other operator has posted a single $5 million month.

Golden Nugget’s secret sauce

Golden Nugget’s success cannot be traced to a single factor or event. Instead, a combination of things propelled the small (by Atlantic City standards) casino to the top of New Jersey’s online casino hierarchy.

In part, Golden Nugget outperforms its peers in the market thanks to:

  • An experienced, forward-looking online casino team;
  • Being first to market with live dealer games;
  • Bringing high-performing skins like Betfair and SugarHouse under its umbrella.

Can anyone run down Golden Nugget?

If New Jersey’s other operators want to catch up, they’ll have to do some of, if not all the following.

Embrace live dealer games

So far, operators have resisted launching live dealer games because of the upfront and ongoing cost of the requisite live dealer studio. But with Pennsylvania coming online — and other states likely to follow — the cost of said studio can be mitigated, provided a single live dealer studio can be used by the same company in different states.

In an interview back in January, Golden Nugget Senior Vice President and General Manager, Online Gaming Thomas Winter said online table game revenue has grown by 150 percent since live dealer games were introduced.

“Golden Nugget growth last year, more than twice the market average, in part attributable to live dealer, has demonstrated that the benefits of offering live dealer far exceeded the extra cost,” he said. “As we scale with multiple brands, costs are dropping.”

Winter added he believes, “Live Dealer has the potential to become bigger than online poker in revenues in the US.”

Here’s the bottom line: Live dealer games are a must for any casino that wants to be competitive with Golden Nugget.

Find a bit of luck

To some extent, Golden Nugget made its own luck, catching lightning in a bottle on a couple of occasions.

Winter referred to Golden Nugget’s early technical issues, which pushed back GN’s online launch by several weeks, as a blessing in disguise. The late launch brought Golden Nugget into the market after some of the initial geolocation and payment processing problems faded away. That meant fewer New Jersey players had bad experiences registering at Golden Nugget than at other sites.

The late launch also kept Golden Nugget from spending its marketing money early in the game. While its competitors bombarded New Jerseyans with ads and spending like drunken sailors in an effort to capture market share, Golden Nugget sat back and waited.

Then, Golden Nugget began its marketing blitz. Its competitors, already tapped out, scaled back their advertising budgets. Coupled with the early issues, the initial spend by GN’s competition was far less effective.

Further, an outsized percentage of early advertising efforts focused on online poker, a product GN didn’t offer. That allowed GN to maintain laser focus on online casino customers.

Golden Nugget caught more luck when the closure of Trump Plaza left BetfairCasino.com homeless. Taking in the wayward Betfair online casino proved a real shot in the arm for Golden Nugget. Doing so nearly doubled its monthly revenue overnight.

Prove they want to be the best

Finally, catching Golden Nugget is going to require effort and a desire to succeed.

Golden Nugget is constantly adding new games and titles, now boasting over 500: the most in the market. Golden Nugget also strives to be the best when it comes to user experience.

“Since day one, we’ve been consistent in investing in this market, be that on marketing, product or user experience,” Winter told GBB Magazine. “That superior user experience comes in many different ways, from an ergonomic and slick user interface to exclusive games, fast withdrawals, 24/7 customer service, and dedicated VIP management.”

So what form should a competitor’s big push take? It could be an overhaul of existing products. Or what about a new emphasis on marketing and player-friendly promotions? Or find the next, big inimitable thing on the market. What will be the next “live dealer games,” for instance?

At the end of the day, if an online operator wants to catch Golden Nugget, it’s going to need to outwork and outmaneuver Golden Nugget. Despite the possibilities listed here, that’s easier said than done.

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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.