Hard Rock International announced Thursday they signed a contract with Gaming Innovation Group to operate the sports book in the Atlantic City casino opened this summer. The book will open sometime in Q1 2019.
GiG has worked with Hard Rock since July, shortly after the entertainment company opened a casino in the space of the former Trump Taj Mahal on the AC Boardwalk. GiG Magic serves as the technical platform on the Hard Rock’s website.
GiG will operate their full suite of sports betting products, developed over the last two years. At Hard Rock, they will operate betting windows, self-serve kiosks, and the eventual online book.
“I am proud and delighted to have signed this agreement with our partner Hard Rock, our first inroad to sports betting in the exciting US market,” said GiG CEO Robin Reed. “It also headlines our continually strengthening partnership with Hard Rock across our iGaming ecosystem. It was a highly competitive pitch against the best Sportsbooks in the world, all vying to open up the US market. Hard Rock choosing GiG to power its Sportsbook, is a clear statement as to the quality of our cutting-edge sports betting services at this very early stage of their roll-out. Hard Rock is a strong brand with scale, wide reach and with the same high ambitions as us. We look forward, with excitement, to continuing to support Hard Rock’s expansion and geographical growth.”
Hard Rock waited over half a year after their competitors due to restrictions from their stadium naming rights deal with the Miami Dolphins. A change to NFL regulations allows casino and sports book operators can hold naming rights on venues, with certain restrictions.
Kresimir Spajic, SVP Online Gaming at Hard Rock International, said: “The forthcoming launch of the Hard Rock Sportsbook in New Jersey will mark another step towards becoming a significant player in the national and international Sports Betting and Online Gaming industry. In the past few months GiG has proven to be an innovative, capable, flexible and trustworthy partner. Such qualities together with vanguard Sportsbook technology and services enabled GiG to win our New Jersey Sportsbook RFP. We are positive that the extension of our partnership with GiG together with “skin” partnerships with leading international operators will enable Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City to reach its ultimate goal of becoming New Jersey’s Sports Betting and Online Gaming market leader.”
GiG and Hard Rock will operate on the north end of the AC Boardwalk, quickly becoming the most competitive section of New Jersey’s intensifying sports betting market. DraftKings opened its retail location at Resorts earlier this month. Walk a bit further and players can visit the first boardwalk book, William Hill at Ocean Resort.
Hard Rock has a challenge to overcome beyond just the lagging time of its physical book. Increasingly, the market in NJ has migrated to online platforms. The two biggest earners of revenue the last two months are DraftKings and DFS rival FanDuel.
The timing of the opening could prove crucial. Should operations begin in January, Hard Rock can compete with NFL playoff betting. After the Super Bowl, handle will drop before the start of the college basketball postseason. Atlantic City still awaits the restart of NJ Transit’s rail service linking Philadelphia and the suburbs. Even with the lower volume of traffic, storms and long nights can make the drive to the shore undesirable.