Another Major Player Enters The Fold: MGM Launches Online Casino In New Jersey

After months of anticipation, MGM has gone live with its NJ online poker and casino sites. But can they thrive in the competitive market?
MGM NJ Online Gambling Sites Launch
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[toc]The long anticipated entry of MGM Resorts International into the NJ online gambling industry has come to fruition.

On Tuesday, the world renowned gaming and entertainment company debuted playMGM. The site will reside under the Borgata online gambling license, and will span both online casino and poker.

The two playMGM brands are the third and fourth online gambling sites to launch in the Garden State since June. Scores online casino launched just last week.

However, given MGM’s stature and intimate ties to Atlantic City‘s crown jewel (MGM now owns 100% of Borgata), the playMGM brand is by far the most potentially impactful recent entry into the market.

playMGM, aggression be thy name

MGM is pulling no punches when it comes to its nascent online gambling operation.

The operator has come out swinging with arguably the most aggressive welcome package and initial promotional schedule that we’ve witnessed in New Jersey to date.

Welcome package

Players new to the NJ online casino site will receive:

  • $25 free upon registering an account, which can be used to play any game. There is a 20x wagering requirement associated with this offer.
  • A 100% match bonus up to $2,000 on first real-money deposits. This offer also holds a 20x turnover requirement, which must be cleared within seven days. The minimum eligible deposit is $10.

A couple of points worth noting here. For one, playMGM has unleashed the industry’s largest first deposit bonus, superseding Betfair Casino and 888Casino (which recently revamped its welcome package) for that honor.

Also, it appears that all wagers will contribute equally to the wagering requirement. This is something of a rarity in the NJ online gambling sphere, where typically only online slots contribute at 100%.

MGM online poker players will also receive $25 free and a 100% match up to $2,000, the only real differences being:

  • The $25 free is distributed as a $10 poker bonus and $15 tournament dollars.
  • The match bonus is cleared in 10% chunks, and earned out at a rate of $1 per 8 iRewards Points earned. 5.5 iRPs are earned per $1 spent in poker tournament fees and cash game rake. Thus the bonus clears at a stellar and industry best 68.75% rakeback rate.

The only downside is that players will just have seven days to clear the poker bonus, meaning that players who opt for the full $2,000 bonus will have to generate nearly $3,000 in rake to fully cash in — a monumental task to say the least.

Recurrent promotions

In addition to its welcome package, MGM has gone live with an influx of daily promos. On the casino side they include:

  • Random $20 freeplay awards
  • Freeplay bonuses for accumulating a certain number of iRP points in a day
  • Free spins
  • Deposit top-offs

Poker players will enjoy monthly leaderboards, reload bonuses, and will earn bonus awards for hitting iRP thresholds, capped at $350 in tournament dollars paired with $150 cash.

Land-based integration part of MGM strategy

Players that frequent the Borgata or other MGM locations throughout the states will be pleased to note that they will be able to redeem their earned loyalty points for Express Comps at any MGM Resort. These comps can be used for hotel stays, dining, or entertainment experiences.

Furthermore, iRPs can be redeemed for online bonuses or a bevy of accessories, electronics, and other gifts from the iRewards Store.

The site’s loyalty scheme resembles that found on most other NJ online gambling sites in most ways. However, there are a couple of noteworthy deviations.

  • The loyalty tiers are based on annual play, which should appeal to players who like to spread out their gambling during the calendar year.
  • The top tier, Noir, is by invitation only.

Other playMGM details

One of the main advantages of launching this deep into the lifecycle of the NJ online gambling industry is that new operators have more payment processing options, better geolocation technology, and a larger swatch of games to work with.

playMGM is at a particular advantage in that it is utilizing a known platform, provided by GVC. This is the same platform that powers the Borgata and Party Poker NJ online casino and poker clients.

Here’s a glance at what players should expect at launch:

  • Approximately 225 games, including 202 slots
  • Seven jackpot slots, four of which are linked and which currently boast a top prize of nearly $2.1 million
  • Seven depositing options, including ACH, Visa/MasterCard, PayNearMe, and cash at the Borgata casino cage
  • Dedicated iOS and Android mobile applications

As good as all this sounds, playMGM latching on to GVC’s platform isn’t without its drawbacks either. By NJ standards, the platform tends toward the weaker end, especially the poker client which has been subject to epic server crashes during high profile tournament series.

playMGM online poker will exist as a skin on the Borgata/Party Poker network, and will share player liquidity with both sites.

On the casino side, playMGM’s game library is nearly a mirror of that found on Borgata Casino (playMGM has slightly fewer games at launch). This wouldn’t be so bad if Borgata Casino offered a top-flight game library, but most other NJ online casino sites offer more games and stronger exclusive titles.

What’s the outlook for playMGM in New Jersey?

playMGM is facing a number of obstacles. For one, it’s casino game library is nothing NJ players haven’t witnessed before. It’s also not an Atlantic City branded online casino, which tend to do better at launch.

Not to mention, after a quick start the Borgata online gaming license has since struggled, with NJ online gambling revenue remaining rather sedentary since 2015. This stands in strong contrast to nearly every other NJ operator, which have seen their revenue balloon over the past couple of years.

And of course there’s the fact that NJ is rapidly becoming a saturated market, with no less than a dozen online casino sites and six other online poker sites. At some point, the market will not be able to sustain new operators. It’s already happened on the poker side, although there does still appear to be some wiggle room for casino operators.

However, despite these drawbacks, playMGM is somewhat well-positioned to carve out a significant niche in the market.

For one, it may not be an AC brand, but it’s arguably the next best thing. Toss in the fact that MGM is leveraging its brand right from the get via land-based loyalty integration, and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if land-based patrons gravitate to the site.

Perhaps more importantly, playMGM’s promotional schedule is downright irresistible. Whether the promotional floodgates will remain open beyond August is an open question, but the current palette should go a long way toward attracting gamblers during the critical launch phase.

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