In a period of just under two weeks, gambling options have expanded tremendously in the Garden State. On June 28, both Hard Rock AC and Ocean Resort opened their doors to much pomp and circumstance, with Hard Rock launching its online casino later that day.
On Tuesday, Ocean followed suit, removing the “under construction” banner from OceanOnlineCasino.com and revealing its own much-anticipated iGaming offering underneath.
Soft launch hours
Like every NJ online casino before it, Ocean online casino will undergo a soft launch phase before officially going live. During this period, hours will be somewhat restricted:
- Day 1 (Tues): 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. (8 hours)
- Day 2 (Wed): 12:00 p.m to 8:00 p.m (8 hours)
- Day 3 (Thurs): 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. (14 hours)
- Day 4 and Day 5 (Fri & Sat): 12:00 p.m. to 12:00 p.m. (24 hours)
Ocean Online Casino is powered by GameAccount Network (GAN) software, the same company which provides the platform for Betfair Casino, one of the state’s top earning gaming sites.
Before its partnership with Ocean was announced back in January, Betfair was GAN’s sole Garden State client. GAN’s boasts a stellar track record in the iGaming industry, even taking home the EGR North America award for Platform of the Year in both 2015 and 2016.
Hard Rock, which got the jump on Ocean by 13 days, chose to go with software developer Gaming Innovation Group (GIG), which offers a solid, but untested platform in the U.S. market.
Lobby and game selection
At first glance, Ocean Online Casino doesn’t present the contemporary and polished look of sites like Hard Rock or Play SugarHouse. The design choice to use a large image of the Ocean brick-and-mortar casino as the main site background is somewhat distracting, making it difficult to view and differentiate game thumbnails. The site also makes overly heavy use of animations, which creates a disorienting experience.
A dark blue sidebar resides on the left side of the lobby window and displays a real-time feed of recent winners (congrats to “Siska C,” who is doing quite well!).
In the main navigation bar, there are icons representing the different game types available, along with sections for new games, promotions, jackpots and staff favorites. There is also an “In Casino” tab, which displays games that are also available at Ocean Resort in Atlantic City.
As expected, the Ocean Online game library isn’t yet as robust as its more established competitors. The casino is in a beta phase, and will need time to work out the kinks in its product and forge partnerships with game providers. Sources tell NJ Online Gambling that we can expect much more in way of game content and promotions, scaled over the next several weeks.
Here’s what games players can enjoy right now:
- 54 slots
- 8 video poker machines
- 7 table games
For comparison, GAN-powered Betfair spreads 327 slot machines, over a dozen table games and nine video poker titles.
As of yet, the site has not added any progressive slots to its Jackpots page, but this will soon likely change. Being that they share a platform provider, we expect Ocean to offer some of the same jackpot slots in operation at Betfair. Divine Fortune, Medieval Gold, Colossus Frac/pot and Gong Xi Fa Cai might be possibilities.
Curiously, Ocean is already offering slots like Mustang Money from software developer Ainsworth. Just last month, Borgata announced that it had struck a partnership with the game maker which would give it, and its umbrella of sites, exclusive access to Ainsworth games for a period of six months.
Welcome package makes waves
Ocean is clearly hoping to make a splash with its welcome package, which is by far the largest – and most complex – on offer in the state. But while it may be eye-catching, it’s important to take a close look at the terms and conditions, which reveal tough wager requirements.
New players are entitled to a $125 Welcome Week Bonus, which must be completed on a number of different game types in steps through eight consecutive days of play. It’s laid out like so:
- Day 1 – $10 Free Slot Play
- Day 2 – $10 Free Table Games
- Day 3 – $10 Free on all games
- Day 4 – $10 Free Video Poker
- Day 5 – $10 Free Roulette
- Day 6 – $25 Free on all games
- Day 7 – $25 Free on all games
- Day 8 – $25 Free Play at Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City
So for example, the first day players must wager 30X on slots to receive their $10 bonus. Once that step is complete, they will continue to Day 2 where they must complete another 30X wager requirement on table games. If any steps in the chain are not completed in the allotted timeframe, the remaining bonuses disappear from the account.
Before Ocean made its debut, the biggest deposit bonus on offer in NJ was capped at $2,500, at Betfair Casino. Ocean has blown that out of the water, tempting players with a whopping $10,000 potential max deposit bonus. The award is structured similarly to the sign-up offer, and must be completed in steps. Here you can see the sequence:
- Bonus 1 – 100% Deposit Match up to $100
- Bonus 2 – 100% Deposit Match up to $200
- Bonus 3 – 100% Deposit Match up to $350
- Bonus 4 – 100% Deposit Match up to $500
- Bonus 5 – 100% Deposit Match up to $750
- Bonus 6 – 100% Deposit Match up to $1,000
- Bonus 7 – 100% Deposit Match up to $1,250
- Bonus 8 – 100% Deposit Match up to $1,500
- Bonus 9 – 100% Deposit Match up to $1,850
- Bonus 10 – 100% Deposit Match up to $2,500
Again, before players commit their hard-earned cash to conquering this massive bonus, it’s essential to read what is required in the terms and conditions.
Ocean Online Casino’s loyalty program is dubbed Ocean Premier, which provides faithful players with both online rewards and benefits at its brick-and-mortar property. The website bills the program as “the first of its kind” and claims that, “unlike any other player’s club program, Ocean Premier Points may be used online for real cash.”
Ocean has also come out of the gate with a promotion opportunity for early patrons. During the Suite Sound of the Ocean promo, players can win a Studio Suite at Ocean Resort or opt for $1,000 cash at Ocean Online. If you don’t win it on your first try, don’t worry, the contest will be run three times, once in July, August and September.
To win either prize, players must climb either the table games or slots leaderboards by playing real money titles. At the end of the month, the player with the most points will have their choice of a relaxing stay at the Resort or a $1,000 site credit.
Design preferences aside, Ocean Online is stepping into shark infested waters, where it must compete with 18 other online casinos.
At the least, it seems to be doing its best to one-up its most recent competitor, Hard Rock, with its eye-popping $10,000 bonus, which could potentially attract new players and entice veterans, at least in the short run. Whether they will decide to remain is yet to be seen.
The Ocean Online game selection is currently pretty paltry, but even though Hard Rock launched with nearly triple the amount of slots, Ocean’s partnership with GAN will ensure that the site is well-stocked with popular titles in the very near future. Hopefully, for its sake, the casino will rock the boat, set itself apart and offer a unique and rewarding online casino experience.