The first big surprise was their decision to open a day early. Both opened officially on Thursday, June 28, after a preliminary soft-launch, but they caught the news media on the hop by launching on June 27.
While there is all the razzamatazz that could be expected from the respective marketing teams, the long-term success of each will be down to more fundamental factors. Branding, technology, infrastructure, customer loyalty programs, and that indefinable cachet that makes a specific casino special.
Hard Rock Atlantic City lives up to its name
Hard Rock Atlantic City has definitely got the edge on branding. The main hall is dominated by its trademark rock music theme while the outdoor decor consists of a gigantic electric guitar. More guitars of every size are everywhere, and hotel guests will even be given their own electric guitars to play.
Rock memorabilia on display include Elvis Presley’s 1963 Rolls Royce, but at the heart of the casino are more than 2,100 (some reports say 2,400) slot machines and 120 table games.
Gambling isn’t all that the Hard Rock is about. Jim Allen, the global entertainment and hospitality company’s CEO, said:
“This is an entertainment facility, not just a casino. It’s not about, ‘Come in, hit a buffet, play $50 on slot machines and then go home.’ That’s not what we’re about.”
The casino features a Howie Mandel Comedy Club, 20 restaurants and bars, and 2,000 hotel rooms. There will naturally be a full schedule of stage performances with big-name musicians, comedians, and DJs to put on the entertainment.
The gaming technology is a mixture of proven and new
Regardless of the marketing hype, if the gaming isn’t right, the rest of the experience won’t be enough to succeed with Atlantic City’s ever more discerning punters.
Hard Rock Atlantic City’s parent company Hard Rock International has commercial relationships with several game suppliers. This enables it to offer some of the most popular music-themed slots on the market.
What remains to be seen is how its NJ online casino offering compares with others in the New Jersey market. Will it be one of the best NJ online casinos?
An NJ gambling site partner in GiG for Hard Rock AC
Hard Rock Atlantic City partnered with Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) in February this year. At the time, Robin Reed, CEO of GiG said:
“We are excited to be part of Hard Rock International’s inspiring and innovative plans to become a global leader in the international online gaming space. The online casino will be a stand-out product with the sizzle of the Hard Rock music, entertainment and lifestyle brand.”
GiG is providing an end-to-end solution for Hard Rock AC, “a state of the art digital consumer portal, as well as the back-end platform to manage the operations.”
GiG has also been working with Hard Rock to develop the front-end online casino client. And as the casino opened its doors Thursday, GiG announced it had gotten regulatory approval to operate in New Jersey.
Ocean Resort Casino is planning its own competitive advantage
Ocean Resort Casino may lack the international brand of Hard Rock, but it aims to carve out its own niche in offering a different kind of casino experience.
The Ocean Resort design philosophy couldn’t be more different from the in-your-face brashness of Hard Rock AC. Pastel colors with grays and silvers dominate, creating a more relaxing ambiance with the emphasis on being a holiday resort.
There are six swimming pools including a saltwater pool as well as an ocean-facing sun deck with luxury cabanas. In partnership with the Hyatt Hotel group, Ocean will feature the Exhale Spa with 32 separate treatment rooms.
IGT provides industry-leading technology
Gaming technology comes courtesy of a deal with International Game Technology (IGT). Ocean Resort is using IGT’s IGT Advantage casino management system.
This enables more than 1,900 slots to be connected so that experience enhancing apps can be applied throughout the casino.
Players will receive in-display messages including promotions such as the Random Riches and Carded Lucky Coin bonuses. The system also enables a real-time customer loyalty program to be implemented.
Ocean Resort Casino CEO, Frank Leone explained:
“Creating a highly personalized loyalty program and a gaming floor that includes the industry’s most in-demand games for our Ocean Premier loyalty members are top priorities for Ocean Resort Casino. We are confident that the combination of IGT games and systems solutions that we’ve deployed will position us to drive play while efficiently operating our world-class gaming floor.”
Ocean should be able to satisfy the most demanding slot player’s expectations with IGT’s “vast portfolio of notable IGT games such as Sphinx 4D Video Slots, Wheel of Fortune Slots, Fort Knox Video Slots, classic film-favorite THE Goonies Video Slots, and many of the company’s ‘Proven Performer’ core games.”
IGT will also power Ocean Resort’s online presence. IGT’s Remote Game Server (IGT RGS) will be used to deliver proven games such as Cleopatra and Wheel of Fortune Slots to both desktop and mobile online players.
And before I forget, Ocean is also bringing a new poker room to AC, something Hard Rock AC has decided to do without.
It will be fascinating to see how the two casinos will perform over the coming months. Two very different destinations offering very different styles of gaming experience.