Hard Rock AC Now Targeting Early 2019 NJ Sports Betting Launch

Hard Rock Atlantic City and partner Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) are now targeting early 2019 for their launch into NJ sports betting.

The Hard Rock sportsbook will include an online/mobile sports betting app, a retail sportsbook, and sports betting kiosks.

The press release also noted that the contracts for its sports betting operation with Hard Rock AC has been officially signed though no specific launch date has been set.

The pair announced in October they had signed a letter of intent to launch retail and online/mobile sportsbooks out of the new Hard Rock Atlantic City. At that time, a late 2018 launch was planned.

GiG is also Hard Rock’s NJ online gambling software partner. The pair launched an online casino site on July 3.

Apparently, the sports betting agreement now includes self-service betting terminals in the casino as well. In fact, GiG is promising to provide a full “omnichannel” sports betting solution.

Eyeing the NJ sports betting market

Kresimir Spajic is Hard Rock International’s senior vice president of online gaming.

He said the launch of its NJ sports betting operation will help Hard Rock AC reach its ultimate goals. Those goals include leading the NJ sports betting and online gambling markets:

“The forthcoming launch of the Hard Rock Sportsbook in New Jersey will mark another step toward 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.”

But Hard Rock isn’t stopping there, said Spajic. More plans are afoot for the newcomer to the Atlantic City Boardwalk.

“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.”

As of now, it has deals in place with European betting giant bet365 and Kindred (Unibet). However, it appears Hard Rock is already eyeing further online expansion in NJ and looking for partners.

GiG is also claiming there is potential to expand the partnership in other US states in the future.

The company expects more than 20 states with half of the population of the US will launch legal sports betting by the end of 2024. Plus, it believes the total market will be worth more than $6 billion and split between retail and online/mobile sportsbooks.

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Hard Rock and the NFL

Hard Rock casino in Atlantic City opened June 28 in what was once the Trump Taj Mahal. But it did so without sports betting or a concrete plan to introduce it.

This was due to an NFL policy restricting casinos and sportsbooks from obtaining the naming rights at NFL venues. Hard Rock International signed an 18-year agreement to become the Miami Dolphins stadium naming partner in 2016.

However, the league later lifted the restriction allowing Hard Rock Atlantic City to move forward with its NJ sportsbook plans.

Now, GiG CEO Robin Reed says he is happy to enter the US market with such a solid partner:

“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. It also headlines our continually strengthening partnership with Hard Rock across our iGaming ecosystem. … Hard Rock is a strong brand with scale, wide reach and with the same high ambitions as us.”

Yes, Hard Rock sportsbook is coming into the game late, but there’s still time to pick up a win. Will they open by Super Bowl Sunday? We’ll have to wait and see.

About the Author

Martin Derbyshire

In his over 10 years covering the US online poker, legal NJ online gambling, and land-based casino industries, Martin Derbyshire has worn the hats of award-winning journalist and video and film producer. He has logged countless miles reporting on the world of high stakes gambling.