Get your Fenders out and start brushing up on your scales, because one of the most recognizable restaurant, hotel and casino brands the world over is coming to Atlantic City.
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino AC opened its doors on June 28, replacing the shuttered Trump Taj Mahal. The new owner is already pouring $500 million into the facility, and appears to have eyes on replacing the Borgata and Tropicana as Atlantic City’s premier venue.
Alongside the grand opening of the brick & mortar facility will be the launch of a brand new Hard Rock branded online casino site. And from the looks of it, Hard Rock is taking online just as seriously as its land-based casino.
Already, Hard Rock has forged key strategic partnerships with Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) to provide its platform, and NetEnt to supply dozens of slots and table games. Together this trio forms the basis of what could very well become one of the most popular legal and regulated online casinos in the New Jersey market.
Our first impressions of the site here reflected the amount of ground Hard Rock needed to cover to catch up, but they now offer a comparable experience to many of the best established online casinos in the market.
Welcome bonus offers at Hard Rock Online
Hard Rock took to the offensive at launch. The current Welcome offer includes a 100% match up to a $1,000 on the initial deposit, followinge the model of most other NJ sites and subject to a wagering requirement.
Of course, Hard Rock may eventually go a step further, offering new depositing players free spins on its Wheel of Rock on top of the first deposit match.
What are the advantages of Hard Rock Online?
- Something new: GiG is a newcomer to the NJ online casino industry, and is looking forward to disrupting the market. Together with the equally aggressive Hard Rock, the duo should offer game and promotional innovations, the likes of which players have not yet experienced. What form these innovations will take is not yet entirely known, but from what we’ve heard, there’s plenty to get excited about.
- Multiplay: Hard Rock has launched with a new experimental multi-table feature to allow the playing of multiple games at once.
- Crossover promotions galore: Hard Rock Casino in Atlantic City has already booked dozens of high profile music and entertainment acts, presenting an enviable opportunity for it to reward online players with tickets to see their favorite act. It may even offer players the chance to win hotel stays, dinners, and free play at its brand spanking new casino in Atlantic City, or at other Hard Rock venues located throughout the world. Even a Fender guitar or a chance to meet a rock idol could be in your future.
- Being late to the party is a good thing: Since launching in 2013, the NJ online casino industry has made leaps and bounds in the areas of game selection, mobile apps, and payment processing. Hard Rock online casino players should be able to enjoy these benefits right out of the gate.
What are the disadvantages?
- Being late to the party is also a bad thing, the main competitors are established in numerous ways and you have to work to catch up.
- A surprising amount of early software bugs and instability have plagued the launch period.
On which platforms is Hard Rock Online available?
It really doesn’t matter how hard rockin’ an operator’s online plans are unless it locks up a solid software provider, which can offer its product across a variety of platforms.
In GiG, Hard Rock online casino has found just that.
Gaming Innovation Group is known for its lightning quick browser-based client, and Hard Rock online casino has not deviated from that norm.
The interface dazzles with hard rockin’ graphics and features not often seen in the NJ online casino market, such as a daily prize wheel, social features, and a sophisticated loyalty point tracker. This is in addition to the standard account management features and a full cashier. It is compatible with a wide variety of browsers including Google Chrome, Safari, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer and Edge.
Aside from NetEnt other major game providers or onboard such as big players like IGT and SG Interative.
An online casino without a top mobile app is like a stratocaster without strings. Therefore, it was nearly without question that Hard Rock would have failed to complement its desktop software with a fully functional casino app, compatible with iOS and Android powered devices.
Today’s casino apps are no longer just cheap knockoffs of the real thing, offering a portable experience that’s as responsive and feature-rich as any desktop client. The main difference between Hard Rock’s mobile and desktop options is that on mobile there may be fewer games. But thankfully most of the key options are there, including the Live Dealer games and the new progressive jackpot slots.
Overall the mobile app runs well with a decently designed interface.
Game selection at Hard Rock online casino
The average NJ online casino site has somewhere between 300 – 400 games, with the most ambitious sites featuring over 500. Hard Rock has done a lot of catching up: it launched with a conservative library of less than 200 games, though this has improved quickly and is closing in on 400.
Thanks to Hard Rock’s continued expansion it has a formidable enough selection to be competitive, and if things continue it may even wind up with one of the top libraries.
Slots are undoubtedly one of the main features on Hard Rock online casino, with titles running the gamut from old favorites like Triple Diamond and Quick Hit Platinum, to musically themed games like Jimi Hendrix, James Dean, and Guns N’ Roses.
Very high value slots such as the Jack Hammer and Blood Suckers series are also present.
Among its jackpot slots Hard Rock features the widely popular progressive Divine Fortune from NetEnt and IGT’s unique Gong Xi Fa Cai, both of which offer players the chance to win life changing jackpots on the regular. Additionally, Hard Rock has also recently added progressive “Mega Jackpot” versions of classics Cleopatra and Siberian Storm with potential prizes over $500,000.
Hard Rock made a bold move to go “live” with Live Dealer games nearly out of the gate.
Since Live Dealer has proven such a boon for Golden Nugget Casino, which was first to market with the product, Hard Rock partnered with Evolution Gaming to construct a Live Dealer studio on the Hard Rock AC casino floor sometime in August of 2018. Evolution already provided Live Dealer games for GiG powered sites abroad, making the transition easy. Shortly after several other NJ online casinos entered into agreement to host the same Evolution games played out of Hard Rock AC.
This move was essential for Hard Rock online casino to try to get a leg up on the competition, some of which has been rooted in NJ for nearly five years. Live Dealer games so soon after launch was an aggressive attempt to get the attention of players.
Tables are available from 11AM until 3AM. Thus far Evolution offers the following games on Hard Rock online casino:
- Baccarat with a minimum bet of $1. Side bets available.
- Blackjack on five tables, with minimum bets from $5 to $20.
- Roulette– standard with a $1 minimum and Slingshot Roulette with a $0.10 minimum. Sadly both of these are on American-style wheels with 00 spaces.
- Three Card Poker with a minimum bet of $0.50. This live version of the popular casino game is exclusive to Evolution sites.
- Ultimate Texas Hold’em, also with a minimum of $0.50 and also technically an Evolution exclusive though not fundamentally different from Casino Hold’em games offered elsewhere (although Ultimate may have a slightly better RTP).
Aside from Live Dealer, Hard Rock features only two versions of Blackjack at this time: Blackjack (IGT) and Blackjack (NetEnt). Both of these variants offer pretty standard house rules and fave RTPs just over 99.5%.
For the mobile version of the casino NetEnt has substituted their Blackjack Classic Touch version, but while this is visually slightly different it is functionally the same as the desktop experience.
Four wheel games in addition to the two Live Dealer roulette options reside at Hard Rock:
- Roulette Master
- 3 Wheel Roulette
- Double Bonus Spin Roulette
With the exception of Double Bonus Spin Roulette these are all Single 0 tables, but unfortunately there is no option for the coveted French Roulette style game. While this version is a rarity in New Jersey online casinos it still could hopefully be added to Hard Rock’s library in the future.
Hard Rock does not yet have any craps games, and the only baccarat option so far is the Live Dealer version mentioned above. However, more table games such as these and even “carnival” style casino games may be added as the library expands. Going further, it’s not implausible for Hard Rock to offer games rarely (or never) seen in the market, like Red Dog, Super Wheel, Pai Gow Poker, and the Perfect Pairs side bet for Blackjack.
Hard Rock has not introduced any unusual or exclusive new variants of Video Poker, but boast the most important five Game King poker games that make up the industry standard collection:
Games may include:
- Game King Jacks or Better
- Game King Bonus Poker
- Game King Double Bonus Poker
- Game King Double Double Bonus Poker
- Game King Five Play Draw Poker Multi-Hand
These boilerplate options have remained unchanged for decades and still represent the best of the genre. Players can expect returns hovering around 99% or higher, and should be able to play a hand for as little as $0.10 and still receive max odds on Royal Flushes.
Currently the game library also includes 10 Instant Win games, including the popular Color Cubes and “Scratch” versions of common slots like Merlin’s Millions and Medusa.
Other possible future game formats include Slingo, which is rapidly gaining popularity on NJ online casino sites may also be forthcoming. Maybe Hard Rock will introduce a new format to the market, like multi-play slots.
Given its aggressiveness and supposed commitment to the NJ market, anything seems possible.
Hard Rock online casino loyalty program
Hard Rock is a bit of an anomaly in that its brick & mortar casinos don’t all offer the same player rewards program. For instance at its Las Vegas hotel, the scheme is a four-tiered program called Backstage Pass, while players in Florida will be treated to the two-tiered Seminole Wild Card. Players visiting Hard Rock Resort and Casino in Biloxi will find that the loyalty program is called Encore Club. And so on.
We suspect that because Atlantic City is closest to Las Vegas in terms of visitation demographics, Hard Rock AC will roll out something similar to its Backstage Pass program. Members will be treated to the following amenities, with higher tier members receiving greater benefits:
- Free play based on play
- Discounts on dining, hotel stays, and spa visits
- Special invite promotions, including bonus days where players receive point multipliers
- Priority seating and check-ins
- Room upgrades
It’s plausible that the land-based program will be connected to the online one, similar to how Caesars’ affiliated online casinos connect Total Rewards. It’s also possible that Hard Rock online casino will support its own unique program, featuring exclusive bonuses, cash back, and comps for use at Hard Rock AC.
What cashiering options will be available?
Getting money on and off a NJ online casino is hardly the chore that it was a few years ago. Expect Hard Rock to launch with a bevy of industry standard depositing options like:
- ACH (eCheck)
- Online banking transfer
- Visa/MasterCard credit/debit cards
- Hard Rock branded prepaid card
- PayNearMe (7-Eleven)
- Cash at the Hard Rock Cage
It’s also highly likely that Hard Rock online casino will support one or all of the following newer methods, all of which feature a nearly unparalleled level of reliability:
Many of the aforementioned options will be available for withdrawals as well, pending they were used for at least one successful deposit. In addition, players should be able to request a paper check in the mail, or possibly a wire transfer directly to their preferred bank.
Customer service at Hard Rock Online
Great customer service is the cornerstone of any successful business. No one knows this better than Hard Rock, which operators dozens of cafes and casinos throughout the world.
At minimum, expect access to service agents via the following vehicles:
- Live chat
Email responses should take no longer than 24 hours, and players utilizing either Live Chat or the phone service could receive answers within minutes. All of these services should be available 24/7, or at least all but slowest hours of the day.
More about Hard Rock Casino in Atlantic City
Hard Rock has had eyes on the New Jersey gaming market for years. In fact, this is the third time in the past decade that it’s issued plans to open a casino.
The operator’s journey began in 2010, when it revealed plans to open a boutique hotel (less than 500 rooms) and casino on the Atlantic City boardwalk. Construction was poised to begin in 2012, but the combination of a poor economy, crumbling casino revenue, and increased competition led Hard Rock to quietly pull the plug.
Hard Rock’s next attempt to get something going in New Jersey came in 2015. This time around, the plan wasn’t to build in struggling Atlantic City, but to look north to the Meadowlands. Given the Meadowlands prime position near NYC and the most populated areas of New Jersey, Hard Rock CEO Jim Allen saw a booming opportunity for the right casino to generate even more revenue than the Borgata.
Hard Rock went so far as to unveil its plans for the first NJ casino to exist outside of Atlantic City.
Opportunity arose once again in 2016, and this time Hard Rock capitalized. It was in October of that year that the much maligned Trump Taj Mahal shuttered its doors. Interestingly enough, the attached Hard Rock Cafe was the only component of the old Taj to remain open.
Just a few months later in March 2017, Hard Rock International announced that it purchased Taj for the bottom barrel price of $50 million (it had cost over a billion to build in 1990).
Of course, it would have to invest in rebuilding the dilapidated property. In April 2017, an ambitious $375 million renovation project was announced. Since, that number has risen to approximately $500 million.
Just over a year after announcing its plans, Hard Rock provided anxious casino goers with an official launch date: June 28, 2018. The launch announcement was accompanied by the booking of dozens of high-profile music and entertainment acts.
Hard Rock will consist of a 2,000 seat theater, 167,000 square feet of gaming space (2,200 slots, 125 table games) and more than 2,000 hotel rooms, rendering it one of Atlantic City’s largest casino venues. An online site, presumably branded Hard Rock Online Casino will likely accompany the launch of the land-based venue.
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