And while ribbons were cut, guitars smashed, and confetti dropped, Hard Rock quietly slid into the NJ online gambling market.
Hard Rock + GiG = Hard Rock Online Casino
Hard Rock International and Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) first announced their partnership in February 2018. The agreement authorizes GiG to provide the platform and front-end development of the Hard Rock online casino.
On Thursday, amid the grand opening celebration, GiG announced the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) issued a transactional waiver as part of the standard license application process.
The transactional waiver certifies the GiG core platform meets the requirements for operating a real-money online casino by the rules set forth by the DGE. It is a temporary license granted following a preliminary vetting process while the permanent licensing process continues. The transaction waiver is valid for six months and is renewable if the licensing process is still in progress.
The awarding of a transactional waiver marks the official entry of GiG into the US online gambling market.
Hard Rock Atlantic City is GiG’s first US customer, and New Jersey will be the first state with a casino running on the GiG platform.
GiG will receive a full Casino Service Industry Enterprise Licence (CSIE) once the licensing process is complete.
“We are delighted to now be going live with Hard Rock in New Jersey, a first step in our mutually ambitious plans to take market share in the regulated online gambling market in the US,” said Robin Reed, CEO of Gaming Innovation Group, in a press release.
Hard Rock Online Casino launches with limited services
Casinos, both land-based and online, operate around the clock. For now, though, Hard Rock Online Casino is limiting its hours. According to its website, players can gamble it up on the first few days of operations during these times (all times are ET):
- Thursday, June 28: 12 – 8 p.m.
- Friday, June 29: 12 – 8 p.m
- Saturday, June 30: 12 p.m. – 2 a.m
- Sunday, July 1: 12 p.m. – 2 a.m.
The site also restricts play to 500 concurrent gamers. Expect a lot of curiosity early on which means players may have to wait to get online.
Hard Rock does not say how long the hour and player restrictions will last.
However, once at Hard Rock Online Casino, online players will enjoy access to games from the NetEnt library. In April 2018, Hard Rock and Swedish online gaming supplier NetEnt announced a partnership.
“We are delighted to partner with NetEnt, known for its innovative and forward-thinking gaming solutions,” Hard Rock’s senior vice president of online gaming Kresimir Spajic said. “NetEnt’s market-leading game titles and digital casino expertise will help us drive online casino growth with our own iconic Hard Rock brand.”
The exact portfolio of games for Hard Rock Online Casino is still unknown, but below you can get a glimpse of some of the games at Hard Rock Online Casino including Starburst, Guns N’ Roses, and Emoji Planet.
Will Hard Rock Online Casino offer sports betting?
The short answer is yes.
While the land-based casino did not open with a sportsbook, NJ sports betting is on the company’s radar. At a press conference before the official grand opening, CEO Jim Allen spoke to reporters about the competition between Hard Rock Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino:
“I think it’s the greatest thing, right? We love the idea that there are 1,400 rooms right next door to world-class quality. We wish them nothing but the best. … And don’t worry, we will be in the sports betting business.”
Online sports betting is on the horizon for Hard Rock, too.
“… We understand the market is actually more favorable with handheld devices or smartphones if you will. So nobody has that technology approved yet by the DGE, we are in that process so we’ll be making some announcements in the next 30 or 60 days as far as how we are going to do that,” Allen said.
Hard Rock has not announced any partnerships for NJ online sports betting yet. The obvious choice is GiG who already has that transactional waiver with the DGE for the casino and touts “the most advanced and disruptive sports betting platform product of the last decade.”
For those that thought the headlines would stop now that Hard Rock Atlantic City is open, you thought wrong. Hard Rock is playing a long game, and it’s playing to win.