Since planting their roots in late 2013, NJ online casino VIP programs have grown increasingly more elaborate. What started out as a smattering of sites offering meager cashback and occasional bonuses to high rollers has evolved to the point where frequent players commonly earn luxury gifts, all-expenses paid trips at partner hotels, invites to exclusive high roller events, faster withdrawals, and gigantic loyalty point multipliers.
Some sites have even gone so far as to allow players to earn comps and loyalty points at their associated brick-and-mortar casinos, meaning that a player technically never has to leave their house to become a high ranking VIP at an Atlantic City casino.
Given this, it goes without saying that any site without a stellar VIP program is going to be stuck in the mud. Newcomer Ocean Online Casino is attempting to rectify that, providing us with glimpses of what’s in store for its most valued players.
Ocean dives deep
Ocean Online Casino has unveiled a multitiered VIP program (High Seas VIP Club) that provides us with some clues as to what the value players should expect in return for their loyalty.
The program is rather extensive, featuring seven distinct tiers:
- Waveless: everyone starts here
- Delta: 25,000 monthly points
- Cove: 100,000 monthly points
- Bay: 500,000 monthly points
- Gulf: 1.5 mm monthly points
- Sea: 3.75 mm monthly points
- Ocean: Invite only
Points are accrued by wagering on real-money games, with slots earning 5 points per $1 wagered, table games that aren’t blackjack and video poker earning 3 points per $1, and blackjack players receiving 1 point for every $1 bet.
This immediately raises a red flag, as we’re talking about $5,000 wagered on slots and $25,000 on blackjack per month just to earn an invite to the lowest earned tier (Delta). To get to Cove, where the kickbacks really start to become significant, the baseline is $100,000 wagered on blackjack, $33,333 on table games/video poker, and $20,000 on slots. Assuming an average slot return of 95%, players will have to incur a theoretical loss of $1,000 in two out of every three months* to maintain this tier.
*One highlight of Ocean’s program is that players only have to earn the minimum monthly VIP points for their current tier in two out of three months since reaching that tier.
To reach Bay, that theoretical loss will be $5,000, at Gulf it’s $15,000, and at Sea it’s a whopping $37,500.
In fairness, players will be able to convert their earned points into High Seas Bonus Points, which is a fancy way of saying they can convert points into bonuses with a 1x wagering requirement. However, the conversion rates leave a lot to be desired.
At Delta, players can convert 10,000 points to $1, which on slot play equates to a paltry 0.05% cashback. This rate improves slightly as players navigate the tiers, up to 0.10% cashback at the invite-only (Ocean) level. By comparison, on a site like Betfair Casino, players earn 0.10% cashback at the baseline VIP level, with top-level VIPs earning a more noticeable 0.5% cashback on slots, 0.3% on video poker and table games, and 0.1% on blackjack.
Under the Ocean program, there just really isn’t any incentive on the basis of cashback alone to grind out the higher tiers. Which brings us to the other amenities offered to VIP players.
Strong crossover with land-based casino
Other added rewards boost the program up a notch, with the caveat that online players who plan on frequenting Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City will get much more out of achieving the higher ranks than those who have no aims on heading down to the boardwalk city. For instance, Delta members will receive free admission to the HQ Nightclub and Top Golf, which is pretty good value for that tier.
Moving up the ladder, Cove players earn hotel stay discounts (players at that level shouldn’t have to pay a dime for hotel stays, but we digress), a spa credit, free parking, and admission to Ivan Kane’s Royal Jelly Burlesque Nightclub, if that’s your thing.
Reach Sea tier and earn all that plus comped suites, free VIP Lounge access, limo service to and from Ocean AC, and exclusive entertainment tickets. Nothing groundbreaking here, but good enough incentive for land-based players, especially considering that the online rewards program appears to have ties to Ocean’s b&m loyalty program: Ocean Premier.
Online-only player perks
Online only players also get some kickbacks, the most interesting one being a VIP Newsletter each month. This could go one of two ways. If the newsletter is ripe with offers, akin to the VIP Calendar sent by Play SugarHouse each month, then achieving Delta tier certainly becomes more compelling. If it’s just some sort of promotional preview for only the highest value players, then not so much.
At the Cove tier, online players will start receiving High Seas VIP Bonuses. Graduate to Bay and count on monthly deposit match bonuses as well, with Gulf players also entitled to weekly cashback bonuses, which we assume are partial refunds on losses. The latter might not sound all that compelling, because players will likely need to lose money to receive them, but depending on the percentage refund and the monetary cap, they could end up being the best part of the program.
Ocean Online Casino is keeping its Ocean level benefits under wraps for now, but we imagine players that get the invite will have a significant say as to what rewards they receive, as typically, casinos will customize offers around their best players’ desires.
The bottom line
There’s enough to like about the High Seas VIP Club, especially if you’re a frequent visitor to Ocean Resort Casino AC, as it’s pretty evident that high-rolling online players will be treated like gold upon entering the casino. The idea of weekly and monthly cashback bonuses, deposit bonuses, and other exclusive offers targeted at online-only players is a feather in the program’s cap. Also nice is that players can take one month off out of every three and still maintain their monthly tier — it’s a perk that we don’t really see elsewhere, outside of Play SugarHouse, which also allows a sort of grace period.
Still, we can’t ignore just how difficult it is to achieve the program’s highest, and even middle, tiers. That, and the fact that players will receive hardly any cashback on their play, are sour grapes.
Whether we ultimately recommend the program or encourage players to steer clear will depend on the value of the VIP Newsletter (if any at all) and the recurrent bonuses. If they’re smallish and come affixed with a 30x requirement, we’ll take a pass. If the bonuses come with 1x – 10x requirements or carry 20% cashback or more, then we believe we can overlook some of the program’s deficiencies.
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