Hard Rock Atlantic City Will Open June 28 But Without Sports Betting

Written By Grant Lucas on June 25, 2018

The next step in the rebirth of Atlantic City comes in three days. One of the most landmark dates in the city’s history will be June 28, as Hard Rock Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino will open within a couple hours of each other along the Boardwalk.

Yet while one has plans to take advantage of New Jersey’s newly regulated sports betting industry, the other is focused on just making the day run smoothly.

Hard Rock Atlantic City falls into the latter category.

Focusing more on entertainment than sports betting

For months, Hard Rock AC has seemingly been one step ahead of its incoming counterpart. The property landed its casino license a month and a half before Ocean Resort, for example.

Hard Rock was humming toward its opening. It has been well-documented that the casino’s full attention was on an entertainment experience that goes unmatched in Atlantic City. As Hard Rock settled into its new property, casino higher-ups remained mum on the potential of implementing a sportsbook.

Speaking with the Press of Atlantic City, property president Matt Harkness confirmed that Hard Rock AC will open Thursday without NJ sports betting.

“We’re not opening with sports betting but it’s something we’re taking a very hard look at for the future,” Harkness said. “Right now, quite frankly, we’re just focused on the opening.”

Hard Rock AC does have the resources

It is not as if sports betting will NEVER come to Hard Rock Atlantic City. Like the Six Million Dollar Man, the casino has the technology.

In February, Hard Rock International — parent company of the Atlantic City property — announced a “strategic partnership” with Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) to power its future NJ online casino. That deal followed one made by GiG in which the company teamed up with Perform to run its sports betting platform.

So, in theory, Hard Rock AC has the tools to bring single-game wagering to its online platform at least. However, as Harkness noted, Hard Rock just wants to get through the opening weekend with little, if any, problems.

Which could be the leg up Ocean Resort has been waiting for.

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Sports betting could be ORC’s niche

Ocean Resort has been fighting an uphill battle for some time. While owner Bruce Deifik watched Hard Rock AC seemingly coast toward its opening, he needed an eleventh-hour special hearing with the NJ Casino Control Commission just to score a casino license. It was granted just a week before Ocean Resort AC opened its doors.

Still, the former Revel property was already set up to cash in on regulated sports betting in the Garden State. Ocean Resort partnered with the US arm of British bookmaker William Hill for a 7,500-square-foot sportsbook lounge. The expansive space will be unavailable in time for opening. But Ocean Resort expects to have a temporary booth for wagering. In the end, it will be the second Atlantic City casino — behind Borgata — to offer sports betting.

“Ocean Resort Casino is thrilled to partner with William Hill, the best name in sports betting, to establish a truly unique sports betting experience in the center of our resort and in Atlantic City,” Deifik said in a release announcing the William Hill deal. “From real-time betting to exclusive hospitality for major events, the sports book will be second-to-none.”

Hard Rock Atlantic City will have the upper hand on Boardwalk entertainment. Ocean Resort Casino may have the edge in sports betting. Regardless, the two are not focused on beating out the other in any category.

They are both committed to one thing: breathing new life into Atlantic City.

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Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is a longtime sportswriter who has covered high school, collegiate, and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant now focuses his attention on the growing NJ online gambling and sports betting scene.

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