With more than a dozen online casinos to choose from in New Jersey, each of the state’s operators has worked hard to earn its slice of the pie by differentiating itself in areas like branding, promotions, games offered, mobile experience and loyalty rewards programs.
While some innovations inevitably fall flat, others prove a success and are subsequently adopted by competitor sites. Here’s a look at the four biggest and most popular trends we saw at NJ online casinos in 2017.
Divine Fortune jackpots abound
Developed by Swedish gambling software maker NetEnt, the Divine Fortune jackpot slot was released in New Jersey in 2017 and is now offered at over six NJ casino sites. Incredibly, in less than a year of operation, this slickly-designed game has produced more jackpot wins than any other slot in the state’s iGaming history, paying out well over $1 million in total prizes.
A lucky Golden Nugget Casino player was the first to hit it big in the game, banking $119,627 in May, while another Golden Nugget gambler popped the slot’s biggest jackpot three months later for $271,268.
The game’s popularity can be attributed in part to its well-designed mobile app, which gives gamblers the chance to win big while playing on the go. Two players, both at Betfair Casino, have so far struck it lucky on the mobile version, one winning $132,396 in July and the other taking home $136,629 last month.
Proliferation of PayPal
In the early 2000s, PayPal was the biggest online gambling payment processor on the globe, until it was forced out a few years later by the US government, which charged it with violating anti-money laundering laws.
When the industry became fully legal in New Jersey, the company decided to dip its toes back into the iGaming waters, launching the payment option at a handful of NJ online casinos in 2015.
Millions of Americans already have a PayPal account set up, and trust the company when making money transfers or purchases online. That fact is not lost on NJ gambling operators, which have picked up the pace of adoption in 2017. Betfair Casino and Golden Nugget are just two of the online casinos to begin offering the method this year, while others are still playing catch-up. Currently, gamblers can use PayPal to deposit and withdraw at nine of the state’s online gambling sites.
Virtual sports fill the void
NJ gamblers are currently not permitted to bet on sports, due to the law laid out in the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which limits the activity to Nevada and a few other states. That could all change soon, however, as the Supreme Court is expected to give its verdict at any moment in a suit filed by Gov. Chris Christie to overturn the law.
In the meantime, NJ online casinos have launched Virtual Sports betting, which allows patrons to gamble on 3D generated events like soccer games, horse, dog and vehicle racing. Play SugarHouse first launched Virtual Sports in November, with Betfair soon adding the option as well.
Virtual Sports are popular in Europe, even where sports betting is legal, and account for as much as 20% of a sportsbook’s revenue. The games are known to attract younger gamblers, a demographic which NJ online casinos are eager to capture.
Expect to see Virtual Sports launching at even more sites in 2018, even if real-world sports betting becomes legal.
High-return Big Bet slots debut
While there is always money to be made while playing the base game of an online slot, the real fun begins when a bonus round is triggered. Most NJ slots offer bonus rounds which, when activated by the appearance of several Scatter symbols, offer players a series of lucrative free spins.
While not exceedingly rare, these rounds are not awarded willy-nilly, and can sometimes take dozens or even hundreds of spins to trigger. Big Bet slots, created by SG interactive, give players the option to essentially activate a bonus round at will by paying extra for a series of five linked spins. During these spins, they will enjoy bonus features like persistent wilds, extra free spins, multipliers and the removal of low-paying symbols.
What’s more, these games offer players some of the highest returns we have seen in New Jersey, with the return to player percentage going as high as 99%. This is extraordinary considering the fact that most land-based AC slots give back around 91%, while online slots return an average of about 95%.
Several Big Bet games, like Hercules High & Mighty, were introduced in New Jersey this year and have been gaining in popularity with players who want high returns and the option to experience the fun of a bonus round on command.
You can play Big Bet games at Betfair and Golden Nugget, and can expect to see more of such games launch in the state in the near future at even more online casinos.