According to a correspondence published on the website of the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement, the two parties first signed a letter of intent back on June 19. Neither has confirmed the deal publicly or to PlayNJ.
As a matter of public record, however, Director David Rebuck signed off on a portion of the partnership on June 25.
The temporary approval is valid until July 31 while bet365 works to obtain its license to operate in NJ. Rebuck’s letter seems to indicate that the requisite application is already on file with his agency.
The sports betting deal will be the first in the US for the large European bookmaker, following William Hill and Paddy Power Betfair across the pond.
Hard Rock + bet365
Hard Rock AC just opened its doors last week, and workers are still putting the finishing touches on a $500 million renovation of the former Trump Taj Mahal. There doesn’t appear to be a physical sportsbook in place yet.
During the grand opening ceremonies, Chairman Jim Allen did confirm that the property would offer sports betting, but he indicated further updates weren’t especially imminent.
Here’s what he said during the Q&A with the press on June 28:
“While there has been a few sports betting windows open… we understand that the market is actually more favorable on a handheld device — or your smartphone, if you will.
Nobody has that technology approved yet by the DGE. We are in that process, so we’ll be making some announcements probably sometime in the next 30 to 60 days as far as how we’re going to do that.”
Glancing at the dates, it’s clear that the bet365 partnership was in place (and approved) when he gave that speech. Hard Rock wasn’t ready to disclose quite this much this soon, but the DGE’s letters have tipped off the agreement.
It’s not clear how the relationship will work. Bet365 is a consumer-facing platform, so it may just be using the Hard Rock’s casino license to offer sports wagering as an individually branded website/app, or a “skin.” Bet365 is not a B2B provider.
The Hard Rock online casino is already up and running, by the way, powered by Gaming Innovation Group (GiG).
Welcome to NJ sports betting, bet365
The list of NJ bookmakers will grow by one very big one when the bet365 sportsbook enters the market.
Much has been written about many large gaming companies in recent months, as the US is slowly accepting online gambling and other forms of expansion. Most recently, the Supreme Court decision in Murphy vs. NCAA has allowed a growing list of states to legalize sports betting.
The weeks since that ruling have sparked a renewed scramble for position — led by New Jersey and heavily featuring large European bookmakers with aggressive US plans. Bet365 is a multi-billion-dollar outfit based in the UK.
- William Hill US operates sports betting for two NJ properties, Monmouth Park and the new Ocean Resort Casino.
- Betfair US has partnered with The Meadowlands to launch sports betting under the FanDuel brand this month.
Betfair US also operates the Betfair NJ online casino, and all three bookmakers operate existing horse betting platforms in the US, too. With the addition of bet365, three of the largest gambling companies in the world now have a presence in New Jersey.
NJ will be the launch pad for bet365, but the group no doubt has ambitions across the US map. It has the brand strength and the sheer size to compete against any operator in the world, and it’s already invested in some lobbying efforts with New York lawmakers.