Evolution Gaming, Golden Nugget Announce U.S. Strategic Partnership For ‘Live’ Online Casino

Could the so-called "live" online casino games become popular in states that may look at legalizing iCasino? Two firms are betting on it.
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A pair of leading online gambling entities in the state of New Jersey are eyeing a potential U.S. expansion.

On Tuesday, Evolution Gaming, a supplier of “live” online casino solutions, and the casino operator Golden Nugget announced a new “strategic agreement” for the nascent American online gambling industry.

Golden Nugget has a presence in the Nevada, New Jersey, Mississippi, and Louisiana casino industries. The casino company offers online casino gambling in New Jersey, and it was the top operator in that realm in 2019. The casino had 36.6% of the online casino gambling market share last year.

Its online casino revenue was more than $177 million, not far off from the $199 million the retail casino won.

One of its popular offerings that contributes to its success involves actual human dealers located in a live studio that streams games to the smartphones or computers of customers. The product essentially tries to bring the real life casino floor to your home or wherever you may be.

Evolution and Golden Nugget are eyeing the product in additional states, should online casino gambling be authorized. Right now, only five states have legalized online table games and slots. In addition to the Garden State, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Michigan, and West Virginia have passed legislation. Nevada is online poker only. Ten states have online/mobile sports betting, which makes them more poised for expansion to iCasino.

States like Indiana, Iowa, and Colorado, which all have mobile sportsbooks, could soon look to iCasino.

Bolstering NJ product

According to the presser, the new strategic agreement includes Evolution giving Golden Nugget access to additional games such as Dream Catcher, Side Bet City, and Top Card.

“The Evolution games will be streamed live to players in New Jersey from Evolution’s own Live Casino studio in Atlantic City, or from the Golden Nugget Live Studio,” the firms stated. “They will appear as part of the extended Golden Nugget live games offering alongside Golden Nugget’s own Ezugi-powered Live Roulette, Blackjack, Unlimited Blackjack, Baccarat, Casino Hold’em, and Three Card Poker titles.”

Golden Nugget was the first New Jersey casino to wade into the live online casino waters with its own streaming studio in a partnership with software provider Ezugi, which later sold to Evolution in 2018.

The casino operator first offered the product to its online gamblers in 2016.

The Garden State kicked off legal online casino gambling in 2013, so it took a while before the product hit cyberspace in New Jersey. Other operators also have the product, so it’s not exclusive to Golden Nugget, which also provides live online casino content to its rivals in the state.

Those Golden Nugget partners in the New Jersey regulated market currently include Betfair/FanDuel, Borgata, BetMGM, PartyCasino, BetAmerica, and Caesars.

“Our online players and those of our partners are very well served with our existing online Live Casino offering in terms of classic casino table games,” Thomas Winter, Golden Nugget’s general manager of online gaming, said in a statement.

“The agreement with Evolution will give our players and those of our operating partners access to more unique show-style games and other unique titles, enriching their live gaming experience. The new generation of Evolution Live Casino games will also help us serve a broader player demographics, including sports bettors. This, we believe, will allow us collectively to further increase the share of online casino revenue attributed to Live games.”

Likelihood of additional state iCasino adoption

America is in a deep public health and economic crisis that will be felt for years to come.

For the retail casino industry, the COVID-19 coronavirus resulted in all of the nearly 1,000 casinos nationwide closing their doors in March. Over the past weeks, casinos have started to reopen.

As of Wednesday morning, exactly 100 properties had reopened in some capacity, according to the latest tracking from the American Gaming Association.

In the months and years ahead, states will more than likely consider expanding gambling to the internet to boost revenues. Right now, the additional tax revenue is minimal. New Jersey took in $72.4 million in tax revenue from online casino gambling in 2019, about 0.2% of its budget. It’s a drop in the bucket.

However, consumer habits may change more rapidly in a post-COVID-19 world. More gambling spend may move to the web, as people will be hesitant to visit retail casinos for an indeterminate amount of time.

According to the University of Nevada Las Vegas’ Center for Gaming Research, U.S. commercial casinos won more than $45 billion from gamblers in 2019. That doesn’t include the more than $30 billion the nation’s tribal casinos win each year. In other words, iCasino is still in its infancy, so the tax revenue may materialize in the future. So far, though, it’s been very meager.

According to iDEA Growth, a pro-online gambling trade group in Washington, the legal online gambling markets in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware generated $84 million worth of tax revenue in March and April, which came as retail casinos closed. That amount isn’t much, but much of it wouldn’t have been there had it not been for the online betting platforms.

While it’s ghoulish to think about while Americans are still dying from the virus, states will also be looking to prepare for the next pandemic. While many media reports have stated that the COVID-19 crisis is a once-in-100-year event, some reports indicate pandemics could be more commonplace as the planet warms. Preparing for the next pandemic isn’t alarmist with what we know right now.

The live online casino gambling championed by Evolution and Golden Nugget may seem strange for some gamblers right now, but in the years and decades ahead it could gain even more popularity in a rapidly changing world as more and more gambling moves to the internet.

Gamblers (who are humans after all) will always enjoy seeing an actual human face, but in the future that may commonly come through a screen, for better or for worse.

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