Who needs hold’em? Golden Nugget dominating NJ online casino biz despite lack of poker

by , May 9, 2017 | 12:39 am

If you had asked industry experts to predict market leaders back when NJ online gambling first launched in late 2013, it’s unlikely many of them would have pegged Golden Nugget over bigger brands like Borgata and Caesars.

In fact, the casino had something of an ignominious start in New Jersey. Due to technical errors, Golden Nugget online launched later than the rest of the market, missing out on the first wave of enthusiasm and signups that accompanied the formal launch of regulated online gambling in the Garden State.

But despite the low expectations and initial stumble, Golden Nugget is quickly becoming the clear leader among the land-based license holders that operate online gambling sites in New Jersey.

A recent month more than made the point: In March, Golden Nugget clocked $6.1 million in revenue. The next closest competitor was the Borgata, with $4.3 million (including both casino and poker).

Closing in on Borgata for casino revenue lead

We say “quickly becoming” rather than “already is” for one reason: The Borgata. The Borgata has been, since day one, the cumulative leader for casino revenue, poker revenue, and overall revenue.

But that spot is looking shakier every month. Currently, the Borgata only holds a lead of roughly $3 million over the Golden Nugget when it comes to casino revenue. Golden Nugget will likely overtake Borgata on that front before the year is out.

The total poker lead for Borgata is a bit safer thanks to the site’s massive head start over PokerStars. And it will be some time before any casino gets within reach of the overall revenue crown. But if a casino does mount that challenge, it will probably be the Golden Nugget.

The Golden Nugget is the IGP holder for a handful of brands, all of which contribute to the total revenue number. In addition to Golden Nugget, Betfair and SugarHouse also are counted as part of the casino’s online revenue totals.

Poker’s contribution in NJ: Material, but far from massive

How much of a disadvantage is Golden Nugget facing by not offering poker? Roughly speaking, poker drives about 15% of the total online gambling revenue in New Jersey.

So, obviously, casino dominates, but poker isn’t exactly chump change. But two things are helping to ensure that Golden Nugget isn’t suffering too much from a lack of poker in the lobby.

The first is that poker revenue is basically flat. The chart below pretty much says it all:

 

The bump you see in April is PokerStars entering the market. And then what happens next? Despite the launch of the most well-regarded, highly-anticipated operator in the state, revenue basically drifts right back down to where it was.

In there is the the second reason why Golden Nugget isn’t necessarily too concerned about not having poker. The likely outcome should Nugget add a poker site is that the site would fail to gain traction. Remember, PokerStars grabbed most of their industry-leading revenue from competitor’s share, not by growing the market.

If you’re Golden Nugget, it’s hard to imagine a world where you get a significant slice of the poker pie, and you’re also keenly aware that said pie is shrinking.


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