Taking control a natural progression, says Hard Rock exec

Hard Rock Eyes More Control Over Tech As Online Gambling Operations Grow

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Hard Rock is looking to seize control of its technology as its online gaming division evolves from a startup ideology.

The company’s online betting and gaming senior vice president Kresimir Spajic recently told OPR the operator is aiming to “bring pieces of its technology in-house.” That plan won’t extend to a full proprietary platform, but rather smaller areas like parts of the front end.

“Taking more control over your tech is part of the normal cycle of a company as you grow,” Spajic said. “Bringing certain aspects in-house allows us to have more control and generate some points of differentiation.”

Hard Rock uses the Gaming Innovation Group (GIG) platform for its online operations in New Jersey and Iowa.

Hard Rock taking online expansion slow

According to Spajic, Hard Rock is deliberately taking a more careful approach to expansion.

“We have been around for 49 years and we plan to be here for another 50,” he continued. “I see a lot of people in the market doing deals just to keep the share price high, without really questioning: ‘Is this valuable; is this a good fit?’”

“We feel it’s better to do things right before you shout about it. We’ll play our cards when we’re ready.”

Spajic pointed to the recent launch of live remote-controlled slots at Hard Rock AC as the type of innovation the operator could bring to the market. He said more innovation around sports is in the pipeline.

Hard Rock eyeing podium position

The company has set an internal target to be among the top three online casino brands in every market it serves — and top five in sportsbooks.

It currently ranks near the bottom in both categories in New Jersey, though it is still among the youngest brands in the market.

“We have taken a different approach and focused on product and operational capabilities first,” Spajic said. “And then slowly and surely we will turn on the marketing machine. We have 90% brand awareness across the US, so we don’t need to tell people we exist. We just need to tell them we have an online sportsbook or a casino.”

Hard Rock is aiming to launch online sports betting in Indiana this year before potentially looking to Illinois and Ohio.

- Brad has been covering the online gambling industry in Europe and the US for more than four years, most recently as the news editor at EGR Global.
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