When New Jersey’s online gambling market first launched in November, Golden Nugget intended to be at the forefront. A series of delays prevented them from launching with the rest of the pack, but it’s clear now that the head start competitors received was no hindrance. Now among the leaders of the state’s online casino market, Golden Nugget has also managed to disprove the theory of cannibalization.
Before internet gaming was approved in the Garden State, one of the major concerns for land-based casino operators—and the rest of the country, for that matter—was that online gambling would cannibalize the land-based industry. If players are logging on via their computers and mobile devices, why should they bother to visit that brick and mortar variety of casinos? Clearly, that hasn’t been the case for Golden Nugget.
Thomas Winter is the Vice President of Online Gaming for Landry’s, Inc., which operates the Atlantic City casino’s iGaming website, GoldenNuggetCasino.com. In a recent edition of iGaming Business North America, Winter told a triumphant tale of the Golden Nugget’s unlikely rise to the top in New Jersey.
As the rest of the market went live, shelling out untold millions in promotional campaigns to promote their products in November 2013, Golden Nugget was forced by technical difficulties to bide its time. Several weeks later, the online casino was launched. The online poker side of the business, however, was delayed indefinitely.
“As our competitors all launched marketing campaigns at the same time, they really struggled to acquire customers cost-effectively, and in most cases the operators had pulled back from their marketing spend already,” explained Winter.
In Spring 2015, when rivals had exhausted their marketing funds, Golden Nugget ramped up their efforts. The online casino was able to increase its market share from 5% to 11% by September.
Then in November, something extraordinary happened. Trump Plaza closed up shop, and iGaming company Betfair found itself without a land-based home for its online operation. Betfair spent a short stint with Caesars, but in November established a new, permanent partnership with Golden Nugget.
By December 2014, the casino’s market share has risen to 20%. Golden Nugget is now in a very tight race among the top three competitors for online casino market share in New Jersey, led by Borgata Casino (26.397%), Tropicana Casino (26.048%) and Golden Nugget (25.678%).
Golden Nugget Land-Based Clientele Increases
Instead of seeing a decrease in physical clientele, Golden Nugget has found that its online presence is actually increasing the number of patrons visiting the brick and mortar casino. Winter wasn’t the only one to point out a significant rise in foot traffic on the gaming floor of area casinos, either.
Winter said that only 20% of the casinos patrons “were already registered at the property.” The remaining 80% of their clientele “were totally new and recruited online.”
It was also feared that existing customers may not visit the land-based casino as often when given the option to play online. That hasn’t been the case either, says Winter. “Interesting enough, of the 20 percent of players we got who were already Golden Nugget customers, rather than their play decreasing once they started playing online, their visitation actually increased.”