Hard Rock Atlantic City Will Open With A Guitar Smash But Not Sports Betting

You won’t be able to bet on the New York Yankees to win the World Series at Hard Rock Atlantic City when the property opens June 28. Or, any other sports team for that matter.

Hard Rock Atlantic City president Matt Harkness told The Press of Atlantic City this week it will not offer sports betting at launch:

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

The sports betting competition in Atlantic City

When Hard Rock Atlantic City does open this week with the ceremonial guitar smash, it will be doing more than just competing with the seven other Atlantic City casino properties. All or most of the casinos have plans for sportsbooks in the future.

In fact, Ocean Resort Casino will also open on June 28. And it will do so with a sportsbook.

Ocean Resort Casino struck a deal with William Hill US to run its sports betting operations. Construction on a 7,500-square-foot William Hill sportsbook right in the center of the casino floor is underway. However, it won’t be done in time for this week’s opening.

Instead, officials at Ocean Resort Casino say they will operate sports betting out of a temporary sportsbook. The temporary sportsbook will be open for the next six weeks until the permanent one is done.

Borgata Atlantic City opened a sportsbook on day one of legal NJ sports betting. The three Caesars properties, as well as Golden Nugget, will likely also follow suit in the coming months.

In other words, Hard Rock AC’s non-sportsbook status will look a little out of place.

A good thing for Hard Rock Atlantic City’s neighbors?

In the meantime, Michael Pollock, managing director of Spectrum Gaming Group, a consulting firm working for Hard Rock, told The Press of Atlantic City the competition is likely thanking their lucky stars:

“I think it’s going to raise a sign of relief among a number of properties, not just in this neighborhood, but throughout the city. Hard Rock is going to be a contender in any area in which it plants its flag. So, any area in which they elect to not participate, long term or short term, for whatever reason, does present an opportunity for any competing property to gain share in that segment, by definition.”

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But don’t count Hard Rock AC out just yet

Initially, there was speculation that a stadium naming rights deal Hard Rock International has with the NFL and the Miami Dolphins in Florida might be cause for concern.

Hard Rock International Chairman Jim Allen made mention of the deal during a Hard Rock Atlantic City license hearing in May. Although, he said only that the deal came with certain restrictions. What those restrictions are remains unclear.

However, on Tuesday, the New York Times reported that Allen hinted at a possible sportsbook partnership:

“As for tapping into sports gambling,” the NYT reported, “Mr. Allen said the Hard Rock was preparing to announce a partnership with a company that would run a sports book in the new casino. He said he expected sports bets to provide a modest boost to the casino’s profits and to draw people in during big events like the Super Bowl.”

So don’t count a Hard Rock sportsbook out of the Atlantic City sports betting game just yet.

Meanwhile, Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to attend both casino openings. And just like he did when NJ sports betting officially launched June 14 at Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport, Murphy will place a sports bet at the Ocean Resort Casino sportsbook.

Obviously, he won’t be doing that at Hard Rock.

About the Author

Martin Derbyshire

In his over 10 years covering the US online poker, legal NJ online gambling, and land-based casino industries, Martin Derbyshire has worn the hats of award-winning journalist and video and film producer. He has logged countless miles reporting on the world of high stakes gambling.