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Virgin Casino is shifting from its Tropicana Atlantic City license to a partnership with Bally’s Atlantic City Hotel and Casino. At the same time, Tropicana’s own online casino will switch to Light and Wonder technology instead of Gamesys software.
Those two moves are the latest shuffle for New Jersey online casinos which have become like game pieces populating a figurative Monopoly board. Indeed, that class property-trading board game is based on landmarks from the seaside city. New Jersey bettors may even play Monopoly in the online casino apps themselves.
Still, keeping track of the real world companies rolling the dice and moving their pieces is enough to give you a headache. That’s before getting into rebrandings, mergers and acquisitions. Similar stories play out in other states too, but the New Jersey online casino market has more brands than anywhere else, and is most companies’ first point of entry to the US.
Virgin Casino is the online casino app of the London-based Virgin Group. That company is mostly known for its airline, Virgin Atlantic. Or maybe more for the conglomerate’s peripatetic billionaire owner, Richard Branson.
Either way, Virgin established the brand’s only US online casino in New Jersey in 2014. It partnered with the Tropicana retail casino for its license and Gamesys for its tech. Tropicana’s own online casino has, until now, been using the same technology. Both brands also offered similar bonuses and styled their sites similarly, so there wasn’t much differentiation between the two products.
PlayNJ tallies the Tropicana license’s revenue at $398 million since late 2013. That figure puts Tropicana in the middle of the pack at No. 5. Market leader Golden Nugget Atlantic City Hotel, Casino and Marina brought in three times more revenue to total more than $1.2 billion. However, there are more than half a dozen brands operating on that latter license, while Tropicana will now be on its own following Virgin’s departure.
Meanwhile, as Virgin Casino stayed a small brand operating in a single state, Virgin grew its UK operations – Virgin Bet and Virgin Games.
So the news entering Virgin Casino gamblers’ inboxes on Tuesday didn’t change their lives much.
PlayNJ obtained the email Virgin sent to its players:
“We are writing to let you know that the Virgin Casino license is updating on Tuesday, April 5, 2022. From this date, we will be operating under the internet gaming permit issued to [Bally’s Atlantic City] …
“Your account login, balance, and all your games and account features will continue to be available to you, just as they always have been, at virgincasino.com.”
Both switches happened on Tuesday:
They also both share a common cause. They happened because Rhode Island-based Bally’s Corporation completed its Gamesys acquisition in October. Then its Bally Interactive division launched Bally Casino in February in New Jersey. Bally Casino operates on the Bally Atlantic City retail casino license, along with PointsBet Casino.
In order to keep using the Gamesys tech, Virgin Casino moved about 4,000 feet, from Tropicana to Bally’s, to be with its new land-based licensee. Tropicana, still on its own license, had to find a new technology provider.
PlayNJ explained the reasoning behind it:
“Tropicana online casino, also built with Gamesys technology, is in a completely different situation. If you look at the DGE list of approved online casino operators, the brand still falls under the Tropicana Atlantic City license. And it makes perfect sense why.
“However, the land-based Trop is owned by Caesars Entertainment, a direct competitor and neighbor of Bally’s.
“See the problem?”
So on Tuesday, Tropicana Casino sent gamblers an email saying the online casino will switch from Gamesys to Light and Wonder tech by May 25. From the players’ perspective, this will mean the differences between the Tropicana and Virgin online casinos are now more obvious.
That’s two moves involving how many players, rebrands and acquisitions? Monopoly players and New Jersey online gamblers have a lot in common.