Gaming Innovation Group makes its first foray into US online casinos

Who Is Going To Power The Hard Rock Online Casino In NJ? Now We Know

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Hard Rock Atlantic City has an online casino platform now.

The parent company of Hard Rock AC, Hard Rock International, announced it entered into “a strategic partnership” with Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) on Monday.

What we know about GiG and Hard Rock so far

In 2017, Hard Rock bought the old Trump Taj Mahal, which it will reopen as its own rebranded property this summer.

But Hard Rock wasn’t stopping with land-based gambling. A report last week intimated that both Hard Rock and the new Ocean Resort Casino had applied for online casino licenses.

The news continued to move fast in the world of New Jersey online casinos as Hard Rock announced who would be taking care of its iGaming offering.

“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,” said Robin Reed, CEO of GiG. “The online casino will be a stand-out product with the sizzle of the Hard Rock music, entertainment and lifestyle brand.”

The choice of GiG had been rumored for months. In October, GiG announced a partnership with a “large, well-known international casino brand.” Presumably, Hard Rock is the partner GIG was teasing.

More on the GIG deal from a press release:

GIG will provide Hard Rock with a state of the art digital consumer portal, as well as the back-end platform to manage the operations. The online casino will be developed by GIG’s design and development team in collaboration with Hard Rock, with the offering launching in 2018.

GiG has also announced it has kicked off the application process for the Casino Service Industry Enterprise License in New Jersey, moving the company into a third regulated market.

A new player in US online gambling

GiG was founded in 2012 and to date has been focused on European iGaming markets, with its headquarters in Malta and other offices spread across the continent. This is its first foray into the still-developing US market.

The market for online gambling is about to expand, however. Pennsylvania legalized iGaming in 2017. With 13 casino licensees in the state, that leaves many potential suitors who need an online casino platform.

Today’s news comes on the heels of GIG doing a deal with Perform to power its sports betting offering. Should New Jersey win its sports betting case in the US Supreme Court, GiG would likely be the tech behind Hard Rock’s potential online sportsbook.

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Designs beyond an NJ online casino for Hard Rock?

When Hard Rock decided to get into the NJ market, its entry into the online gambling industry was almost a foregone conclusion. The market accounted for about $250 million in revenue last year. Hard Rock wasn’t about to enter NJ and just cede that market to its competitors.

But now that Hard Rock is in the iGaming business, it probably won’t try to stop there.

“Hard Rock has an ambitious plan to become a global leader in the international online gaming space,” said Kresimir Spajic, the senior vice president of online gaming at Hard Rock. “We are confident that, together with GiG, we can disrupt the market, through product innovation and unique user experience.”

Online casino and sports betting legalization do not seem imminent in Florida, where the biggest casinos owned and operated by Hard Rock International exist. But HRI does own other casinos around the world and is constantly looking to expand into other states and countries.

- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner. He has played poker recreationally for his entire adult life and has written about poker since 2008.
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