The Hard Rock Atlantic City (formerly the Trump Taj Mahal) and Ocean Resort (previously Revel) have signalled their mutual intentions to enter the New Jersey online gambling market.
The state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) announced this week that both properties have applied for licenses to offer internet gaming.
If approved, it would mean all seven of Atlantic City’s casino resorts will soon be active in the market, operating between them a minimum of 24 gambling websites. Both the Hard Rock and Ocean Resort are focused on opening this year for the summer season.
Last week, UK online gambling software provider GAN mentioned in its annual report that it had signed a deal with AC Ocean Walk LLC, the owners of Ocedan Resorts, to launch a real-money online gaming site sometime in the second half of this year.
New Jersey Success Story
AC Ocean Walk bought the $2.4 billion Revel from billionaire owner Glenn Straub at the beginning of this year for $200 million. Straub had acquired it in 2015 for $82 million at a bankruptcy auction, and had various plans to reopen it, but he clashed continually with regulators over his assertion that he didn’t need to acquire a gambling license.
The Taj Mahal was acquired for around $300 million by a group of investors led by Hard Rock International, which is owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Its previous owner Carl Icahn closed the property in October 2016, after facing months of union strikes.
After a slow startup, online gaming has proved to be big success for New Jersey. Last year, it generated $245 million, up almost 25 percent from the previous year, which represents more than 9 percent of the entire GGR taken in by Atlantic City casinos.
Sports Betting Next?
But the biggest draw in the seaside resort town is sports betting. Online sports betting tends to dwarf online casino revenues in the markets where both are legal. And with the possibility that the Supreme Court of the United States will strike down PASPA (the federal sports betting ban in effect in all but four grandfathered states) when it reaches a verdict in New Jersey’s sports betting case could unleash a lucrative new vertical on the New Jersey online gambling market.
Ocean Resort’s owners have said they want their property to have a “best in market” sports book if PASPA is repealed. Meanwhile, GAN revealed in last week’s annual report that it’s agreed to provide the company with a sports betting platform, should the legal climate become favorable.
SCOTUS is expected to deliver its decision in the spring.