What You Should Know About Hard Rock’s Sports Betting Venture

Recently, the debut of Hard Rock Digital was announced as a fully-funded joint venture along with Seminole Gaming, and its other partners. Hard Rock Digital will serve players with both sports betting and internet casino games both nationally and internationally.

Eventually, Hard Rock Digital will offer an omnichannel platform for both sports betting and interactive gaming, using the databases of both Hard Rock International and Seminole Gaming. The combined databases from 250 land-based venues have more than 130 million customers spanning 76 countries.

“With the launch of Hard Rock Digital, we are expanding our digital business, enhancing customer offerings and experiences across our sportsbook and interactive gaming offerings,” commented Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International. “Also, our digital platform plans to pursue distribution and strategic branding opportunities both within the US and worldwide. In the US alone, the future potential market size is estimated to be $14 billion for internet gaming and $7 billion for sports betting.”

Currently, Hard Rock is partnered with Scientific Games to provide a platform for its sports betting and mobile casino games. However, it’s unclear whether the casino company will seek to end that partnership with the build-up of its new digital platform.

Former Stars Group Exec Leading the Team

Managing the Hard Rock Digital team will be gaming industry leaders Rafi Ashkenazi, executive managing director, and executive chair, Matt Primeaux, executive managing director, and president Marlon Goldstein and executive managing director and CEO.

Rafi Ashkenazi is the former CEO of The Stars Group, and will officially begin his term in 2021.

Marlon Goldstein served as the executive vice president, chief legal officer of The Stars Group, and Matt Primeaux served as president of FOXBet, as part of a joint venture with The Stars Group, from May 2019 to July 2020.

“We are honored to team up with Hard Rock International on this new digital venture,” said Goldstein. “It’s consistently a leader of vision and innovation in the gambling industry. Hard Rock’s hospitality, entertainment, and gaming venues are iconic all over the world. We look forward to giving the company’s patrons an authentic, comprehensive, omnichannel digital experience for the company’s global fan base.”

The team will report to a new Board of Directors, which is separate from the Hard Rock International Board. However, the Digital board will be headed up by Hard Rock International Chairman Jim Allen.

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Hard Rock Digital is Hiring

Currently, the Hard Rock Digital website redirects to a page with a list of available jobs, and it looks like the digital sportsbook will be based in Austin, Texas. The company operates retail sportsbooks in New Jersey, Mississippi, and Iowa. Hard Rock International’s headquarters are in Hollywood, Florida.

The available jobs include engineering and design positions based in Austin, and executive, operational, and marketing positions based in Hollywood, Florida.

Internet Gaming Offsets Revenue Loss Industry-wide

All of the 944 land-based casinos nationwide were closed at some point this year, due to government-mandated, Covid-19 shutdown orders. Naturally, brick-and-mortar gross gaming revenue plummeted.

Hard Rock has brick-and-mortar casinos in five states with legalized sports betting, including New Jersey, Nevada, Iowa, Illinois, and Mississippi. All of these states, except Mississippi, allow mobile sports betting.

According to data from the American Gaming Association, gross gaming revenue for slot machines is down by 38% through September, 2020, and table game revenue is down 43%. However, casino resorts, such as MGM International, Caesars and Golden Nugget, that operate in regulated, legal online gaming markets, were able to offset some of those losses with their online offerings.

Online sports betting and casino gaming Gross Gaming Revenue has climbed by 206% through the first three quarters of 2020. Online sports betting revenue was up by 27% compared to 2019, and that increase has been due to new states legalizing mobile sports wagering.

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