Tropicana, Hard Rock AC Submit Petitions To Offer NJ Sports Betting

New Jersey is not done expanding its sports betting industry.

As such, the group of Atlantic City sportsbooks could swell to eight within a matter of weeks and 10 overall in the Garden State.

According to documents made public by the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement, both Tropicana Atlantic City and Hard Rock Atlantic City have submitted petitions to obtain transactional waivers to immediately begin retail and/or online NJ sports betting operations.

NJ sports betting continues to expand

According to the DGE, these petitions were among 16 filed to the regulating body between Oct. 1 and Oct. 15.

Tropicana and Hard Rock AC each submitted petitions for transactional waivers, which essentially resemble temporary licenses to offer legalized sports betting. These waivers are awarded after a preliminary vetting process and are valid for six months as the process of full licensure continues.

While no timeline was offered for when wagering operations can commence for either property, we can extrapolate from previous petitions.

Looking at past petitions

Throughout the summer, the cropping-up of retail sportsbooks throughout New Jersey seemed weekly, at times even daily.

As a reference point for the potential openings of sports betting operations at Tropicana and Hard Rock, however, we’ll examine recent petitions that were approved.

According to the DGE, Harrah’s submitted a petition to offer sports betting July 31. The casino opened its sportsbook the very next day. Conversely, Golden Nugget sent in its petition Aug. 9 before debuting its temporary retail location six days later. (The permanent spot opened Aug. 31.)

Mobile and online sports betting products take a little longer to roll out, considering the in-depth testing needed before giving the OK. For example, Resorts Digital, obviously tied to Resorts Atlantic City, submitted a petition July 18. The result: DraftKings Sportsbook with a soft-launch on Aug. 1.

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What to expect at Trop and Hard Rock Atlantic City

As both properties inch closer to joining the NJ sports betting field, what can you expect at either facility?


In early September, after Eldorado Resorts neared finalizing its acquisition of the casino, Tropicana AC officially partnered with major British bookmaker William Hill. Eldorado did the same just a few days before.

As far as retail, Trop general manager Steve Callender laid out the casino’s plans:

“A brand new venue is being created to host sports betting in the North Tower Casino, with kiosks located throughout the property. We are excited to share more details about Tropicana Atlantic City’s sports book in the coming weeks.”

Tropicana already operates an online casino, powered by Gamesys. The casino’s newest owner, however, quickly made its presence known by slashing the online casino staff. Several NJ online casinos, such as SugarHouse and Caesars, have integrated sports betting with online casinos.

That said, Trop’s partnership with William Hill could be the quickest way to the NJ mobile market. The bookmaker already operates a mobile sportsbook via partnerships with Monmouth Park and Ocean Resort Casino.

Hard Rock AC

Hard Rock AC has arguably remained the most silent when it comes to offering sports betting in New Jersey.

Casino higher-ups have hinted at entering the fold. Hard Rock’s then-president Matt Harkness, during the AC property’s June 28 opening, said that Hard Rock was “not opening with sports betting but it’s something we’re taking a very hard look at for the future.”

Additionally, Hard Rock International chief executive Jim Allen told the New York Times that he “expected sports bets to provide a modest boost to the casino’s profits and to draw people in during big events like the Super Bowl.”

Yet the casino stayed in the shadows. That is, until recently.

On Oct. 12, Hard Rock brought in Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) to provide the casino’s NJ sports betting offerings. It seemed an appropriate and obvious move, as GiG already powers the Hard Rock online casino.

Within the press release announcing the deal was this little nugget:

“Gaming Innovation Group Inc. (GiG) has signed a Letter of Intent with Hard Rock International (Hard Rock) for the provision of an omni-channel Sportsbook platform in the newly opened New Jersey, US market at its Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.

The intention of the LOI is to execute an agreement and launch the Sportsbook in New Jersey in Q4 2018.”

As for plans for a retail sportsbook on the Boardwalk, as it has throughout the last few months, Hard Rock remained mum.

About the Author

Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is a longtime sportswriter who has covered the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant has covered games and written features and columns surrounding prep sports, Linfield, and Oregon State athletics and the Portland Trail Blazers throughout his career.