Heads up, New Jersey: Sports betting will start at Hard Rock Atlantic City by the end of this year.
Hard Rock International signed a letter of intent with tech company Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) early Friday morning.
— Gaming Innovation Gr (@GIG_online) October 12, 2018
From the press release:
“Gaming Innovation Group Inc. (GiG) has signed a Letter of Intent with Hard Rock International (Hard Rock) for the provision of an omnichannel 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.”
Short on details but long on ambition
The short press release gave no further details on the NJ sports betting plans of either company, but they aren’t too difficult to fill in.
The phrase “omnichannel” implies that Hard Rock casino will get a retail sportsbook as well as a casino-branded NJ online sportsbook. Naturally, this will include a mobile app.
GiG’s core sports betting services include:
- GiG Sports Connect: An odds service based on data in GiG’s proprietary models.
- GiG Trader: “A full suite of trading and risk management tools and services with global reach and local knowledge.”
- GiG Goal: “Mobile-first middleware and front-end service based on personalized algorithms.”
NJ sports betting at Hard Rock AC finally
At the time, Hard Rock CEO Jim Allen said that he expected sports betting to go live within 30 to 60 days.
“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.”
Allen missed that window, but there is a lot of the football season left and the NBA season is about to strike, too. From the lofty heights of corporate planning, the timing doesn’t look at all bad.
Hard Rock has some heavyweight European partners
It isn’t that Hard Rock has been a slouch in striking deals. Only a few days after opening its doors, it announced a deal with Bet365, one of Europe’s largest sports betting operators.
Bet365 won’t provide technology for Hard Rock AC but will operate as a skin under the Hard Rock licensing umbrella.
Then in mid-August, the Kindred Group made a surprise deal with Hard Rock. Kindred operates the Unibet brand and has an extensive sports betting footprint based on its popularity in the Scandinavian countries in Northern Europe.
That deal is a long-term relationship with a 10-year time-horizon. It is Kindred’s first step into the US market, and the group expects to expand to more states.
Manual Stan, senior vice president at Kindred US, said:
“This is a very exciting moment for Kindred as we have been working hard to take this first important step into what will most likely become the largest betting market in the world.”
Three deals mean a full slate at Hard Rock AC
New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) regulations allow for each casino to have up to three consumer brands. With this potential GiG deal, Hard Rock Atlantic City is only the second casino to have filled its allocation.
Resorts was first with BetStars NJ and DraftKings Sportsbook filling its roster alongside its self-branded sportsbook. Hard Rock’s partners Bet365 and Kindred may be less familiar names to a US audience, but they are top 10 global gaming companies with global brands.
The services they can offer New Jersey residents through their relationship with Hard Rock will make them serious competitors.