A new site is poised to enter the saturated, but still viable, NJ online casino market in the first half of this year.
In a recent year-end financials report, Internet gaming supplier GAN announced that it “signed a multi-year agreement with AC Ocean Walk LLC” to provide real-money gaming in the state of New Jersey. The agreement was forged sometime in H2 2017.
AC Ocean Walk is the owner and operator of the former Revel, which was rebranded Ocean Resort Casino following the recent purchase of the property by Colorado developer Bruce Deifik for $200 million.
An experienced operator
The announcement is potentially a game-changer, as GAN has already proven a strong force in the NJ market.
Since the industry first launched in November 2013, it has acted as the platform provider for Betfair Casino, which has grown to become one of the market’s biggest revenue generators. Additionally, it won the award for Platform of the Year in both 2015 and 2016, recognized by EGR North America.
When billionaire Glenn Straub owned the Revel, then known as TEN, GAN powered the site’s social casino — which was believed to be a stepping stone toward a real-money operation. It was.
A partnership with GAN lends instant credibility to Ocean online casino, giving it a fighting chance to compete against more brand-recognizable and established sites. And it certainly gives it a leg up on the three sites/skins that launched in 2017 — Scores Casino, Pala Poker, and playMGM — all of which were either retreads of existing sites, or in the case of Pala Poker, a new site, but in an overly saturated and struggling online poker market.
We have to go back to mid-2016, to the launch of Play SugarHouse, to find the last time an operator launched an independent online casino site. And that operation has done extremely well.
Given its partnership with GAN, Ocean online casino is more likely to follow the trajectory of Play SugarHouse than any of the more recent entries. However, the road might not be as smooth, given that online casino revenue in NJ does appear to have leveled out of late.
In either case, it seems that we’ll know pretty soon, as per the release, the “new Internet gaming destination is currently expected to launch in H1 2018.”
Did we hear something about sports betting?
Snuck into the release are a few mentions of online sports betting. Namely, GAN plans to launch “Internet sports betting integrated with the on-property rewards program in reliance on GAN’s patent.”
This firmly suggests that Ocean Resort Casino plans to be very proactive on the sports betting front, pending the Supreme Court lifts the federal ban on the vertical. Along with being one of the forerunners of online sports betting, it wouldn’t shock if a sports book were part of Ocean’s $175 million renovation and update plans for the property.
The Supreme Court is expected to reveal its decision on the federal sports betting ban (PASPA) in the first half of 2018. Oral arguments were heard in December.
In addition, the release briefly mentions Pennsylvania sports betting, stating “Both New Jersey and Pennsylvania have passed legislation enabling existing Internet gaming operators to launch Internet sports betting in the event PASPA is overturned by SCOTUS.”
From this, it appears GAN might already be formulating a strategy in the Keystone State, perhaps already talking with potential partners about a sportsbook rollout when iGaming goes live. Online gambling and sports betting legislation were passed in Pennsylvania in late October 2017.
An exciting late-game
It’s rare that an industry undergoes a major shift in its fifth year, but that’s exactly how it appears to be shaping up for the NJ online gambling industry.
In addition to the opening of an Ocean-branded online casino, we may see:
- The launch of an online casino from Hard Rock, which purchased the shuttered Trump Taj Mahal and plans to reopen as Hard Rock Casino around this Memorial Day.
- Interstate online poker liquidity between New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware, made possible by a pact forged between the three states last October.
- The proliferation of sports betting at multiple Atlantic City casinos, which in turn may quickly lead to mobile app betting and dedicated online sportsbooks .
At the very least, it’s a near certainty that GAN will power the platform for a second NJ-based client. And that they’ll probably get to market before Hard Rock, as GAN already has a presence in NJ, and should sail through the regulatory approval process.