Take A Seat For The Final Four At Hard Rock’s New Atlantic City Sportsbook

Final Four weekend is coming. And Hard Rock Atlantic City just opened a new seating and bar area to accomodate its NJ sports betting customers.

The Hard Rock Atlantic City sportsbook now has a seating area for customers to enjoy the full NJ sports betting experience.

Phase two of the retail space is fully operational as of today.

And this is not an April Fool’s joke. Hard Rock shared the news via a press release. Joe Lupo, president of Hard Rock Atlantic City, commented on the latest addition.

“It’s an exciting time for our property as we open up the second phase of our sportsbook amplifying this amenity for guests in time for an eventful weekend in basketball.

“This unveiling is one of the many positive changes our property is making as we gear up for a busy and eventful summer.”

The expanded 3,800square-foot space includes:

  • 50 seats
  • 60 TVs
  •  Full-service bar with video poker slots.

Perfect timing for Final Four betting

The opening coincides with the tail end of March Madness betting. The Final Four is taking place in Minneapolis this weekend. And VirginiaTexas Tech, Auburn, and Michigan State are still in the mix.

The new seating area is located footsteps away from the slot machines. Customers could be seen watching sports events inside the space Saturday afternoon.

The unveiling matches the “end of March” timeline Lupo shared with NJ Gambling Sites last month.

Some might say Hard Rock AC is missing the boat on major NJ sports betting events. Traditionally, the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament draws the biggest sports betting crowds.

With this being the first year March Madness betting is legal in NJ, this year’s event came with extra excitement.

But there are still two games on Saturday night followed by Monday’s National Championship Game. Arguably, these last three games of March Madness 2019 will be the most watched.

Hard Rock + NJ sports betting

The Hard Rock brand comes with international recognition. Since opening in Atlantic City on June 27, the property’s entertainment offerings have been front and center.

While neighboring Ocean Resort Casino, which opened the same day, offered sports betting from the start, Hard Rock AC did not.

And months went by without much detail on its NJ sports betting plans.

That changed earlier this year. Its mobile sports betting app powered by Gaming Innovation Group launched on Jan. 26. The retail betting windows opened on Jan. 30, just making the Super Bowl betting cut.

But the lack of seats had customers betting on the Big Game at neighboring Atlantic City sportsbooksThe much larger DraftKings Sportsbook at Resorts and William Hill Sportsbook at Ocean Resort were in full swing during the Super Bowl.

But will the lounge-like setup be enough to attract bettors to the expanded Hard Rock sportsbook? Hard to say.

Hard Rock emphasizes mobile, not retail

Looking at Hard Rock’s NJ sports betting portfolio, and it seems clear mobile is the focus.

Considering $563,806,320 of the $705,608,486 year to date handle has come from mobile sportsbook apps, Hard Rock AC’s game plan makes sense.

The Hard Rock mobile sportsbook is integrated into its previously existing casino app. It means there is already an established customer base.

Plus, at some point this year, two of its partners are expected to join the NJ online sports betting market.

Unibet NJ and bet365 NJ both have land-based partnerships with Hard Rock Atlantic City. Each NJ sports betting license holder is permitted to have three online skins.

There are currently 13 mobile sports betting apps available in the Garden State.

Hard Rock, at least from an online sports betting perspective, will be showing a full house.

Hard Rock AC President Hints That A New Retail Sportsbook Will Open End Of March

Hard Rock Atlantic City casino president Joe Lupo gives an update on phase two of the property’s sports betting plans and talks first-year success.

Hard Rock Atlantic City customers are well aware the property is open for NJ sports betting. But the full NJ sportsbook experience leaves something to be desired.

The area is lacking seats, large monitors and a bar. That situation is expected to change for the better sometime this month.

Joe Lupo, the property’s president, told NJ Gambling Sites earlier this week that phase two is expected to be open by the end of March, just in time for the tail end of March Madness betting.

The space is expected to include a large bar, additional TVs to watch games and a “sufficient amount” of seating, said Lupo.

The NCAA Tournament is considered one of the biggest events on the sports betting calendar. First-round games are taking place March 21 and 22. But believe it or not, March Madness is not the primary target audience for Hard Rock sports betting.

Lupo explains:

“Ultimately, football season is a primary focus, so being prepared for that going into late summer is a primary emphasis for us.”

Hard Rock sports betting is live

While waiting for phase two to be rolled out, Hard Rock customers have two ways of wagering. This includes betting futures on how many home runs Philadelphia Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper will hit this season.

The Hard Rock online sportsbook launched in late January. The platform is integrated into the existing online casino app powered by Gaming Innovation Group. The retail sportsbook betting windows opened on Jan. 3o, days before Super Bowl LIII.

Lupo said it’s too early to judge how things are going on the retail end, but he does expect to see the business grow.

Lupo told NJGS that the mobile/online component is the primary focus at Hard Rock AC.

“Online sports betting is a top priority due to its convenient way for players to wager and partnering with Gaming Innovation Group gives us a great advantage as we move forward with enhancing the player experience.”

This makes sense considering NJ online sports betting accounted for the vast majority of handle and revenue in January.

But Hard Rock is working on expanding its mobile sports betting offerings via a couple of partnerships.

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement permits each license holder to have up to three online skins.

Hard Rock has additional partnerships in place with Bet365 and Kindred (Unibet). Both are expected to launch at some point this year.

Hard Rock has an online casino, too

Hard Rock’s mobile casino platform has been live since the summer.

The rebranded Trump Taj Mahal officially opened on June 28, along with Ocean Resort Casino (the former Revel).

While the sports betting operation was a work in progress, the casino app launched the same day. And Lupo is extremely pleased with the results.

“We couldn’t be happier with the launch of our online casino, especially given that we have not advertised to any level of our competitors whatsoever.

“We have increased revenues very quickly month-over-month, and we are very excited about our future.”

It helps to have a strong team in place to oversee the online operations. When asked what helps Hard Rock stand out from other NJ online gambling platforms in the crowded market, he responded “innovation and our people.”

“Kresimir Spajic who oversees the Hard Rock online division is truly one of the most innovative and aggressive professionals in the business.

“He has great insight and vision for what online gaming will be years from now, so we are building for the future.”

Rejoining the established Atlantic City market

Of course, Lupo is no stranger to the Atlantic City casino scene, having previously served as senior vice president of operations at Borgata.

He joined the Hard Rock AC team in the fall, relocating from the company’s property in Tampa. He served as president there, too.

Hard Rock is one of those brands that circled the AC rumor mill for years. It finally became a reality last year. And the name comes with national recognition.

But can this Jersey Shore gambling town handle the addition of two more casinos?

Remember AC was once home to 12 gambling properties before a string of closures left its financial future in doubt. All but two (Atlantic Club and Trump Plaza) have reopened under new ownership. The neighboring Showboat operates as a hotel only.

Having opened just days before the Fourth of July, Hard Rock jumped right into the prime summer season. Like any opening, there were some kinks to work out.

But as the property approaches its one-year anniversary, Lupo is liking the direction the property is heading.

“In a high frequency market like Atlantic City where there are loyal customers, a challenge is simply acquiring and growing the database.

“It takes time, but after about a year of fine-tuning, we feel very confident going into the spring and summer months that we will be well prepared to see a healthy growth.”

Rock on.

Ready For Kickoff: Hard Rock AC Opens Its Retail Sportsbook For Super Bowl Betting

The rumors are now true. Hard Rock Atlantic City casino is open for NJ sports betting. And just in time for the 2019 Super Bowl.

The rumors have been circulating for weeks that Hard Rock Atlantic City would offer NJ sports betting by Super Bowl LIII

Well, it’s no longer a rumor as the Hard Rock Sportsbook is open for business.

Malta-based Gaming Innovation Group, the company powering the omni-channel Hard Rock sportsbook, confirmed the news via a press release.

From Robin Reed, CEO of GiG:

“This is a milestone for GiG. We have an ambition to make our mark on the highly competitive sports betting vertical and have invested heavily.

“We are now launching our first major operator into a significant market with the possibility of more markets in the US to follow. We have gone from winning the highly competitive tender, to launching a full omni-channel solution in just over half a year.”

Joe Lupo, president of Hard Rock AC, also weighed on the newest addition to the property:

“We couldn’t be more excited to launch our online and on-property sportsbook, providing our guests and players the opportunity to bet on football’s big game this weekend.

“Players will be able to enjoy a full range of bets on the game, as well as all other major sporting events across the calendar, with exciting promotions and events coming soon.”

Big week of NJ sports betting news

While the news of Hard Rock’s on-property sportsbook broke on Wednesday morning, the online sportsbook had it soft launch on Saturday.

GiG, the same company that powers the Hard Rock online casino, has integrated the online sportsbook into the rest of the NJ gambling site. Customers will have access to a shared wallet to use across both platforms.

In terms of sports betting, New Jersey residents and visitors to the Atlantic City property can place bets on a number of sports:

  • Football
  • Basketball
  • Baseball
  • Hockey
  • Soccer
  • College sports (excluding New Jersey-based colleges or games taking place in venues within state lines)

The app is also now available for Android and iOS devices.

From Kresimir Spajic, senior vice president of online gaming at Hard Rock International:

“The launch of the Sportsbook at HardRockSports.com is another milestone on our journey to becoming the most innovative and comprehensive online gaming service for players in the State of New Jersey.

“Sports are integral to New Jersey’s culture and HardRockSports.com provides fans with the best platform to bet on their favorite teams and sporting events.”

Hard Rock makes it eight Atlantic City sportsbooks

Hard Rock is likely the last of the Atlantic City casinos to join the Atlantic City retail sports betting scene.

Of the nine properties, Caesars Atlantic City is the only one without its own on-property sportsbook. But the property located at the center of the Boardwalk is connected to sister property Bally’s Atlantic City (both owned by Caesars Entertainment).

The Book at the Wild Wild West, a temporary space, is accepting bets for the Big Game. Sister property Harrah’s also has a temporary setup in place.

Borgata, which is owned by MGM, recently announced plans for a permanent $11 million sportsbook expected to be open by the summer.

The William Hill Sportsbook at the Tropicana is expected to get a major upgrade. The specific details have yet to be announced.

But now with Hard Rock AC casino in the NJ sports betting game, there is no shortage of betting windows and kiosks on getting in those bets on the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams by kickoff on Sunday.

There will be plenty of places to hang out while the game unfolds.

Going Live: Hard Rock AC Soft Launches Its Online Sportsbook In New Jersey

The 2019 Super Bowl is days away and Hard Rock Atlantic City will be part of the NJ online sports betting scene with its online sportsbook soft launch.

The 2019 Super Bowl takes place Sunday, and at long last, Hard Rock Atlantic City will be part of the NJ sports betting scene just in time for the biggest sporting event of the year.

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.

Hard Rock sportsbook

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.

Six Months In: Ocean Resort, Hard Rock AC Still Growing With Plenty Of Room For Optimism

After six months of life on the Boardwalk, Atlantic City’s two newest casinos, Ocean Resort and Hard Rock, are staying positive about the future.

A common word thrown around by Bruce Deifik is “renaissance.”

The Ocean Resort Casino owner, though, does not use that word lightly. He believed Atlantic City was on the threshold of rebirth.

His property, along with Hard Rock Atlantic City, both of which opened June 28, was expected to be the catalyst for the city’s return to prominence.

Now, six months after the two properties opened to the public, Deifik has not wavered from that frequently used word.

“Looking back, I felt that Atlantic City was going through a renaissance,” Deifik said in a phone interview.

“I believe, absolutely, that that is continuing in a very strong way, that there’s a very good foundation that’s being built under our feet in Atlantic City, and that the future looks very, very bright.”

Certainly, both Ocean Resort and Hard Rock AC remain in their infancy.

But both have enjoyed revenue upticks since activating amenities such as NJ online gambling, and, in the case of Ocean Resort, NJ sports betting. (Hard Rock expects to join the wagering industry within the first quarter of 2019.)

Yet while the industry as a whole continues to reach unprecedented levels of success, Ocean Resort and Hard Rock remain far behind in terms of revenue.

Of course, there is always room for improvement. Yet neither property is concerned about its standing and current state.

Atlantic City on the rise

It has been some time since Atlantic City had the spotlight. The advent of sports betting surely infused some hype. And that industry has made its fair share of contributions.

Sports betting and an eye-opening upturn in NJ online casinos — which accounted for the majority of a state-record $26.9 million in November, the fourth month this calendar year in which revenue records were set — have indeed led to a renaissance in Atlantic City.

According to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, spending and gambling revenue is on pace to eclipse last year’s figures. In the third quarter, net revenue industry-wide reflected a 17.8 percent increase (although gross profits represented a 15.3 percent decrease year-over-year).

And November marked the sixth straight month, and the seventh overall, in which total gaming revenue for Atlantic City casinos showed a year-over-year spike.

“The opening of two new casinos in late June plus the advent of sports betting at the same time explains the surge in net revenues in the third quarter and increase in total industry gross gaming win through October,” analyst Tony Marino told the Press of Atlantic City. “The publicity and media interest accompanying the new casinos and the long-anticipated legalization of sports betting was intense and came at the perfect time — the beginning of Atlantic City’s historically robust summer season. In other words, the timing could not have been better.”

Rummy Pandit, executive director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality & Tourism at Stockton University, also spoke with the Press of Atlantic City:

“Sustained growth in the lodging segment demonstrates the resilience of Atlantic City as it continues its transformation from a gaming-centric market to a multifaceted destination resort on the East Coast.”

Consider, though, that this year’s monthly numbers, at least since July, compare to a time when Atlantic City was lined with seven casinos rather than nine.

And on an individual-casino basis, the newcomers have some catching up to do.

Ocean Resort, Hard Rock behind but thriving

Naturally, both new Atlantic City casinos were behind the eight ball upon opening.

Since rolling out their respective online casinos — Hard Rock in June and Ocean Resort the following month — both platforms have gradually upped revenue each month.

From its first full month of online casino operations, Hard Rock has gone from a $329,650 month in July to $1,314,597 last month. Ocean Resort has also grown, though not as exponentially: $249,805 in July (not a full month) to $731,887 in November.

Granted, month-to-month revenue reports vary and fluctuate.

Yet in that same span, while Ocean Resort and Hard Rock have increased revenue each month, most others have seen dips in profit. Perhaps this is an example of the two new properties gaining customers. Though that is speculative.

Pandit told the Press of Atlantic City that three months worth of data is not sufficient to draw solid conclusions.

He added, however:

“But, if Atlantic City’s past history has taught us to be realistic, we should anticipate that total year round demand may not be sufficient to keep all nine casinos profitable by 2020 and beyond. Without major infrastructure changes and effective marketing programs, another round of right-sizing the casino industry is likely in Atlantic City’s future.”

Ocean Resort owner not concerned

Ocean Resort and Hard Rock NJ gambling sites remain far behind the competition. Golden Nugget online casino has hovered around $9 million per month since July, while most others remain in the $3 million-to-$4 million range.

Even so, while some experts believe nine casinos cannot successfully operate simultaneously, Deifik does not share similar worry.

“We’re very pleased — my wife, my kids, myself, our executives,” Deifik said. “We think we get better every day. We’re making good decisions every day. We have great partners. I couldn’t be happier. If you would have asked me June 28, when we opened, ‘Where would you like to be toward the end of the year?’ I’m pleased where we’re at.

“It’s amazing. You see the town getting better every day. You see the small business owner getting better every day and coming back to life. … It’s a great thing to see that things are getting cleaned up.”

Success about more than just casino

There’s another phrase Deifik likes to use:

“We could not be happier.”

Since opening, the owner said, Ocean Resort has operated at about 84 percent occupancy, second only to Borgata. That gap will narrow further, Deifik noted, when another 2,000 rooms are completed at Ocean Resort.

Hotel operations have run relatively smoothly, Deifik said, emphasizing the success of group and convention at the resort. The casino features more than a dozen food and beverage options and non-gaming amenities such as Topgolf.

Pandit told the Press of Atlantic City that both Ocean Resort and Hard Rock are “finding a niche within non-gaming market segments” while filling up their calendars with live music and comedy acts, among other things. (Hard Rock did not respond to interview requests.)

In Las Vegas, Pandit mentioned, casino hotels generate more revenue from those non-gaming activities. He said Atlantic City properties should emphasize the same in order to survive.

Deifik has begun such a model.

“Las Vegas should be very proud with the way they’ve done things,” Deifik said. “I’m a student of that town for 30 years, basically. … I’ve watched and I’ve looked. We could do worse things than to emulate, to a certain extent, what they do in Las Vegas as far as group and convention and filling up your properties all the time every day. That’s a great thing.

“I think that you always follow people when they make great decisions. And Las Vegas has absolutely created a wonderful model; it’s a wonderful place.”

While some experts may appear concerned, or at least wary of, casino cannibalism, Deifik (and surely Hard Rock executives) perceive an influx in visitation in the near future.

The Ocean Resort owner says that 24.5 million people flock to Atlantic City annually. If that number reaches 30 million visitors, all nine properties should not only thrive but also grow.

Said Deifik:

“I think Atlantic City has that opportunity. I think we’re heading slowly in a direction where people say, ‘You know what? Let’s go there.'”

NJ Online Gambling Sets Another Revenue Record, Edges Close To $27 Million

New Jersey online casinos carried internet gaming revenue to record-setting territory of while NJ online poker continues to struggle.

The New Jersey online gaming market entered record territory — again. When 2018 is over, it may very well be known as the year NJ online gambling kept one-upping itself.

Not surprisingly, it is the online casinos that carried internet gaming to produce the record-setting revenue while online poker continues to head in the wrong direction.

According to the latest revenue report from the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement, Atlantic City casinos brought in $26.9 million from its online activity in November 2018.

November’s figure represents an impressive 30.7 percent increase over November 2017. It is, however, only a modest gain from October 2018, which brought in $ 26.7 million.

Specifically, the casinos brought in $25.4 million, good for a 35 percent increase year over year.

Poker made up the difference with revenue of $1.5 million for the month. Compared to November 2017, its revenue decreased by 13.7 percent.

The highs and the lows of NJ online gambling

Even though all operators posted gains this month, Golden Nugget continues to carry the industry.

In fact, it keeps knocking on the door to reach $10 million. It has been north of $9 million in revenue four times this year. It did, however, take a slight step backward in November to $9.2 million.

While that figure is good for a massive 48.7 percent increase year over year, it did slip slightly from its October revenue of $9.7 million.

On the flip side is Resorts. It earned $3.6 million for November, representing a meager 1.3 percent year-over-year increase.

While Golden Nugget had a slight decrease in month-over-month revenue, Resorts was able to show a modest gain of 5.8 percent.

Hard Rock and Ocean Resort still climbing

Hard Rock Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino continue to grow. In the five full months of operation, both NJ online casinos have seen a triple-digit percentage growth from their first month to now.

For November, Hard Rock posted $1.3 million in revenue, its second seven-figure month in a row. That figure represents a 33.6 percent increase over October when normalized for the additional day.

Ocean Online Casino may not be growing as fast as Hard Rock online casino, but it posted an impressive 27.1 percent month-over-month increase with a November revenue figure of $731,887.

And then there’s the rest

Borgata once again sits solidly in second place behind Golden Nugget. It looked like Caesars was trying to make a run for Borgata’s position, but it took a few steps back during the last few months.

Borgata contributed $4.87 million to the overall online gaming revenue picture. That is a healthy 12.4 percent increase over last year’s number and 13.5 percent over last month’s.

Caesars after breaking into the $4-million club in September, brought in $3.9 million. It improved its November 2017 performance by 16.9 percent. At the same time, it only posted a slight gain of 3.8 percent compared to last month.

Besides Golden Nugget, Tropicana is the only NJ online casino to post a decline in November revenue when compared to October.

This month, Tropicana earned $3.4 million, a 5.4 percent decline from October’s figure of $ 3.7 million when normalized for the extra day. On the other hand, Tropicana did grow by four percent year over year.

NJ gaming, as a whole, also soared

NJ online gambling isn’t the only market posting stellar numbers.

The New Jersey gaming industry keeps proving its strength with solid overall revenue numbers.

In November, total gaming revenue was $257.4 million, a 24.7 percent increase from the same period last year.

Total gaming revenue for NJ includes:

  • Land-based casinos ($209.2 million, +12.6 percent)
  • Online gambling ($26.9 million, +30.7 percent)
  • Sports betting ($21.2 million)

Year-to-date, the NJ gaming industry brought in $2.645 billion.

That is a nearly eight percent increase when comparing it to the $2.452 billion from the same period in 2017. And we aren’t even done with 2018 yet.

While NJ sports betting is the talk of the town, it is hard to overlook the more than 30 percent growth of NJ online casinos and the strength of the industry as a whole.