At least, the Hard Rock online sportsbook will be.
According to published reports, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement granted Hard Rock AC permission late Friday to begin the soft-play phase of its online sportsbook. The testing of the online sports betting system powered by Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) began on Saturday.
GiG powers the Hard Rock online casino, which launched over the summer. The online sportsbook is integrated with the rest of the NJ gambling site meaning customers will have a shared wallet for both platforms.
Players will be able to place sports wagers on all of the popular American sports, including football, baseball, basketball, hockey, college sports and soccer.
Yes, the Atlantic City casino missed the entire college football season, the NFL regular season and the majority of the playoffs.
But the late January launch is just in time for bettors to place wagers on the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams. Plus, the NCAA Tournament is fast approaching.
A false start to NJ sports betting plans for Hard Rock AC
On Friday, in a press release from GiG, the company announced the launch of the Hard Rock NJ online sportsbook. But the announcement was premature.
Call it a snafu in the press release department, as the announcement was supposed to be embargoed. GiG ended up taking down the news release later in the day. But the secret was out.
Hard Rock International signed the deal with GiG back in the fall to add an omnichannel sportsbook. The Letter of Intent was signed on Oct. 12.
Robin Reed, CEO of GiG, talked about entering the US sports betting market in a November story posted on the company website.
“I am proud and delighted to have signed this agreement with our partner Hard Rock, our first inroad to sports betting in the exciting US market. It also headlines our continually strengthening partnership with Hard Rock across our iGaming ecosystem.
“… Hard Rock is a strong brand with scale, wide reach and with the same high ambitions as us. We look forward, with excitement, to continuing to support Hard Rock’s expansion and geographical growth.”
Toward the end of the year, Hard Rock hinted that its sportsbook would launch in early 2019. Since then, the industry has been in a hurry-up-and-wait mode for the big day.
Hard Rock AC + NJ sports betting
Hard Rock Atlantic City is far from finished with its NJ sports betting plans.
An announcement regarding its retail sportsbook could be made this week, with a realistic possibility of it being open for business before Super Bowl Sunday.
Once open for business on the AC Boardwalk, eight of the nine Atlantic City casinos will have in-person sportsbooks. Caesars Atlantic City is the only one without one, but it’s connected to sister property Bally’s Atlantic City where The Book, a temporary space, is open.
Hard Rock casino has additional online sports betting agreements in place with bet365 and Unibet. The two companies plan to use Hard Rock’s license to get into the NJ online sports betting market, too.
The addition of the sportsbook to Hard Rock’s online casino brings NJ’s online sports betting app tally to 10. PointsBet launched last month via a partnership with the Meadowlands Racetrack.
In the meantime, Hard Rock, like the other Atlantic City casinos, has big game party plans lined up for Sunday.