Hard Rock And GiG Have Big Plans For Their Online Casino And Sportsbook In 2019

We chat with Lee Terfloth, Director of Online Gaming Product at Hard Rock about the growth of its online casino and pending sportsbook.
Hard Rock Big Plans

Big things are happening with one of New Jersey’s newest brick-and-mortar casinos.

After opening effectively in lockstep with its highly anticipated brick and mortar venue this past summer, Hard Rock has already seen its online casino site eclipse a major milestone. In October, the site generated over $1-million in revenue with $1,016,822 in winnings. Its win helped propel the industry collectively to a record $26.7 million in online gambling revenue (doesn’t include internet sports wagering).  The positive trend continued in November, as Hard Rock saw its revenue leap to $1,314,597.

The platform, which launched on June 28, doesn’t have online poker. Yet despite that, through November, it has seen over $3.7 million in online casino revenue, with November being its best month thus far.

Hard Rock is planning a sports betting launch in the first quarter of 2019, through a partnership with Malta-based Gaming Innovation Group. The two parties signed a letter of intent on Oct. 12, before making the partnership official late last month, according to a presser. GiG also powers Hard Rock’s online casino.

It was a bit of a gamble going with GiG, given that the firm wasn’t involved with the U.S. sports betting industry prior to partnering with Hard Rock. But it has turned out to be a great bet. There is potential to expand the partnership into other U.S. states with legal online casino and/or sports wagering.

Betting on GiG

Along with desktop and mobile sports wagering, GiG will power Hard Rock’s over-the-counter wagering and self-service betting terminals at the brick-and-mortar property (which was formerly the Trump Taj Mahal). GiG said in the presser that its bid to partner with Hard Rock was a “highly competitive pitch against the best sportsbooks in the world.”

In the end, Hard Rock was impressed after a lengthy RFI process.

“GiG is our partner for sports betting,” Lee Terfloth, Director of Online Gaming Product at Hard Rock Atlantic City, told NJ Online Gambling. “That wasn’t just because they power our casino. We did a lengthy process, evaluated a lot of companies, and in the end we decided to make a calculated but bold move in selecting GiG as our sports betting partner. We are just working through getting that up and running and hope to be live very soon.”

Before Hard Rock Atlantic City, Terfloth was with Resorts Digital.

GiG, which was founded in 2012, spent nearly two years developing its sports betting services. It’s supplying Hard Rock with an “omni-channel solution.” Hard Rock has chosen the full suite of GiG’s sports betting services, including GiG Sports Connect, GiG Trader and GiG Goal.

“We really found a fantastic partner in GiG,” Terfloth said. “Their commitment to quality and speed, and outside-of-the-box thinking have really allowed us to provide a great product for our customers.”

$1 million milestone

New Jersey’s online casino industry began in 2013, so Terfloth and his team have had to work hard to close that gap in a crowded market. The online casino has grown rapidly thanks in part to the Wild Card Rewards program, which helps would-be online players sign up for an account.

“Every customer that signs up for a Wild Card at the brick-and-mortar is immediately given a partially made account online which can be quickly verified at HardRockCasino.com by providing a few regulatory required bits and pieces of information,” Terfloth explained. “They can also earn comp dollars by playing online, which is not done at too many places here in New Jersey.”

The Wild Card program is also used at Hard Rock casinos in Florida, well positioning the brand for potential online casino and sports betting in the Sunshine State.

“Our integration with the Wild Card Rewards program has allowed our customers to truly experience what an omni-channel casino can be,” Terfloth added.  “We remain heavily committed to online casino, and we will roll out a lot of new product and feature functionalities in the next 18-24 months that people haven’t seen in this market before.”

In addition to the success of the alignment with GiG and the integration of the Wild Card program, Hard Rock Atlantic City’s online casino has benefited greatly from the strength of the brand.

“The Hard Rock Casino is internationally recognized as a world-class entertainment and lifestyle brand which offers authentic experiences that rock and unparalleled service. Iconic status of the brand helps a lot with player’s trust, loyalty and admiration” said Terfloth.

There’s still plenty of room for improvement for the Garden State online gaming industry, as well as Hard Rock, especially with regard to payment processing.

“We’ve spent a lot of time talking to our payment partners and working with various companies to try to enhance our product and allow customers to bring funds online,” Terfloth said. “I hope that the removal of PASPA and the legalization of sports betting will speed up credit card companies and their acceptance of online gaming transactions natively. What the timeline looks like for that I couldn’t tell you. But things will get better. Have they gotten better? Somewhat but we still have issues. I think credit is due to the customers because they don’t seem to get discouraged by it,” he added. “They have, after five years, gotten quite educated and realized they have to try a different method.”

Sports betting market

Sports betting handle for the month of November grew 26.9% over September to $330.7 million, with revenue clocking in at $21.2 million. The online handle was a whopping $238.6 million in November, compared to just $92.1 million for the brick-and-mortars. Online accounted for more than 72% of the revenue.

“I think the expectations for sports betting were extraordinarily high, as high as when online gaming came to New Jersey in 2013,” Terfloth said. “Where the market is at, through the first few months, is right around expectation. It will be interesting to see what the numbers look like in the non-football months, in the dog days of summer.”

A lot could change between the start of the New Year and the dog days of summer sports wagering. The deal with GiG still allows Hard Rock to have “skin” partnerships with other international gaming firms. The company’s “ultimate goal” is to become the dominant player in New Jersey online casino and online sports wagering.

A mature Garden State sports betting market could see more than $9 billion in annual handle.

Editorial Credit: Shutterstock.com


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