Hard Rock, Ocean Resort Online Casinos Are Entering A Crowded NJ Market

Written By Steve Ruddock on July 9, 2018 - Last Updated on October 28, 2020

Atlantic City welcomed two new casinos June 28: Ocean Resort Casino and Hard Rock Atlantic City.

The new properties raise the number of operational casinos in the market from seven to nine, and that means competition is going to heat up on the Boardwalk, as well as online.

Hard Rock Online Casino wasted no time

Hard Rock Atlantic City officially launched its online gaming site, Hard Rock Online Casino NJ, on Tuesday, July 3.

The online casino is powered by Gaming Innovation Group (GiG), marking the company’s first foray into the US online gambling market.

“Our online gaming team has done an amazing job launching one of the most dynamic online gaming experiences in the industry,” said Matt Harkness, Hard Rock’s Atlantic City president. “We’re excited to extend the Hard Rock brand beyond the Boardwalk and let casino players (play) across the Garden State.”

Ocean Resort Online Casino… coming soon

Atlantic City’s other new casino, Ocean Resort, is expected to launch its online casino, Ocean Resort Online Casino, in the not too distant future.

Ocean Resort’s NJ online casino will be powered by GAN, a company with intimate knowledge of the New Jersey online gambling market thanks to its partnership with Betfair.

But is there room for two more?

The new online casinos are joining an already crowded market, and grabbing market share from the other firmly established operators will be an uphill battle.

Before the launch of Hard Rock Atlantic City’s online casino, the New Jersey online casino market was already lacking elbow room.

The market boasted five online operators, 17 unique brands, and 23 individual online casinos and poker rooms.

Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa

Caesars Interactive Entertainment

Golden Nugget Atlantic City

Resorts Casino Hotel

Tropicana Casino And Resort

With the two new additions, the NJ online gambling market will increase to seven operators, 19 brands, and 25 online sites.

Hard Rock Hotel And Casino

Ocean Resort Casino

Where will market share come from?

Since the new operators will only be competing for NJ online casino revenue (neither has plans to launch an online poker site at this time), that’s the revenue numbers I’ll focus on.

The NJ online casino industry is averaging around $21.5 million per month over the first five months of 2018. Most of that — close to 75 percent according to Eilers & Krejcik Gaming’s estimates — comes from a small group of six premier brands:

  1. Golden Nugget
  2. Betfair
  3. Borgata
  4. Tropicana
  5. Caesars
  6. Resorts

Basically, one-third of the market is generating three-fourths of the online casino revenue.

That’s the tier Hard Rock AC and Ocean Resort are hoping to break into. But it won’t be easy.

Just do what they did

The good news for Hard Rock and Ocean Resort Casino: what they’re trying to accomplish has already been done by another New Jersey online casino.

Resorts Casino was another late arrival to the New Jersey online casino scene. Resorts was able to ascend to the upper tier after about 14 months.

ResortsCasino.com launched in February 2015 (a skin, MoheganSunCasino.com launched in July) and by April 2016, the combination of Resorts and Mohegan Sun surpassed $2 million in monthly online casino revenue. E&K Gaming estimates Resorts accounts for 70 percent of the tandem’s online casino revenue.

By the end of 2016, Resorts had caught up to most of the other online operators in the market, with the exception of Golden Nugget.

Interestingly, Resorts accomplished this without any noticeable cannibalization of its competitors. That was largely due to the second half of 2015 and most of 2016 being a period of hyper growth in the market.

Ocean Resort Casino and Hard Rock Online Casino won’t have the same fortune. NJ online casino revenue is still growing, but it’s no longer at 2016 levels.

And unlike Resorts solitary launch, Hard Rock and Ocean Resort online casinos will be launching within weeks of one another.

Which of the new casinos will come out on top?

In addition to trying to carve out market share, the individual battle between the two new online operators will be just as interesting.

Ocean Resort is a fresh, out-of-the-box brand in the casino and online gambling industry. Hard Rock is new to AC, but it’s a well known international brand.

That’s important because other than Betfair, the top online casino brands are all well-established land-based Atlantic City casino properties. Advantage Hard Rock.

On the other hand, Hard Rock Online Casino’s software platform is new to the US market, whereas Ocean Resort Online Casino is using an entity with US experience in GAN.

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Steve Ruddock

Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.

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