When the first wave of NJ online casinos launched back in 2013, game libraries were relatively paltry across-the-board, compared with the eclectic mix of slots and table games available today.
iGaming behemoth 888 was amongst those sites, and, as a global industry leader, was expected to use its experience and clout to quickly build out a stellar and robust product.
But it didn’t quite happen like that.
While competitors got to work striking partnerships with game developers and stocking their sites with new titles, 888 sat on its laurels and treated its Garden State operation as an afterthought.
But after years of inactivity, the company has suddenly taken a renewed interest in its virtual NJ casino. It recently started playing catch up, adding a flurry of new games while spreading the word through land-based ads and TV commercials.
That push has continued apace this month, with the company recently announcing the launch of 18 new games in a partnership with veteran iGaming developer IGT.
Better late than never
The new games, which are now running on both 888 and Harrah’s, have been available on other NJ gambling sites for years, so there are no real surprises on the list. However, some of them have built up a nice following over that time, and will be a welcome option for experienced online gamblers popping in from other sites.
Based on trends in play we’ve seen at other operators, we suspect that the following new titles will prove most popular:
- Triple Diamond
- Triple Red Hot 7 Free Games
- Da Vinci Diamonds
- Wheel of Fortune Triple Extreme Spin
Keep ‘em Coming
With the relationship forged, 888/Harrah’s players will likely see a continual drip drip of IGT games being released on the respective sites from here forward.
In fact, the 18 new games barely scratch the surface of what the software developer has to offer. IGT is one of the biggest game providers in all of New Jersey, accounting for a large chunk of the overall titles offered at several of the state’s online casinos.
IGT supplies 83 of Golden Nugget’s 527 total games, which span both slot machine and table game verticals. The only developer with more exposure on the site is NextGen, which provides 152 titles.
SugarHouse is another big IGT partner, offering patrons a diverse assortment of 66 games.
Still room to improve
While 888’s topped up library is certainly nothing to sneer at, we were disappointed to not see a few of the following IGT player favorites on the initial list:
- Siberian Storm
- Super Times Pay Free Games
- Wild Wolf
- Texas Tea
- Prowling Panther
That said, we don’t see much reason for concern. With 888’s renewed focus on New Jersey, it’s only a matter of time before a new batch of games touches down.
A painfully slow start
With most of the state’s online casinos each spreading hundreds of titles, choosing a game can sometimes be overwhelming. But an overabundance of options was definitely never an issue at 888. Up until around four months ago, the site offered a mere 50 games total, leaving many scratching their heads as to how such a big industry player could fall so far short.
The site started to show signs of life in December, however, when it partnered with NYX Gaming and SG Interactive to add an additional 50 games to its library, doubling its overall selection in a single shot.
More games followed in March, after the company teamed up with award-winning casino software maker NetEnt. The deal gave patrons the chance to play titles like Guns N’ Roses, Starburst, Planet of the Apes and Emoji Planet, which many know and love from other sites.
Why the increased motivation?
888’s recent vigor in beefing up its NJ online casino offering could be caused by a number of factors, one of them being recent iGaming legislation passed in neighboring Pennsylvania.
888 is already heavily involved in US online poker, providing the platform for the WSOP.com poker site in Nevada and New Jersey, while offering its own-branded poker experience in the Garden State. What’s more, it was recently announced that NJ, DE and NV will soon start pooling poker players into one large network – a development which will benefit 888 greatly.
But the company also likely wants to get its online casino offering up to snuff before Pennsylvania’s gaming sites go live. The state boasts a population much larger than both NJ and DE combined, and would be an attractive target for 888. The site has already confirmed a partnership with PA’s Mount Airy Casino and will likely provide the software platform for at least one other property.
888 may also see further potential in the New Jersey market, which has posted year-over-year gains every month since its inception. In March the industry hit a new all-time high, taking in over $25 million, although the pace of expansion has generally slowed.
Reaping the rewards
888’s hard work in adding new games in conjunction with its recent promotional blitz may be paying off. While the casino’s land-based partner Caesars usually ranks amongst the lowest state iGaming earners, it came close to eclipsing second-place Borgata last month, taking in nearly $4 million for its best month ever.
While Caesars usually accounts for the bulk of the revenue for its umbrella of licensees, it’s hard to imagine that the recent improvements at 888/Harrah’s haven’t moved the needle.