The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City will open Thursday without a sportsbook.

Hard Rock Atlantic City sportsbook

Hard Rock is rolling into its opening without investing in a sportsbook. (Image: Amy Rosenberg/Philadelphia Inquirer)

While other casinos in the area have been scrambling to form partnerships with sports betting companies to get operations up and running, officials at Hard Rock are taking their time before deciding on whether sports wagering will be incorporated at the Boardwalk resort.

“We’re not opening with sports betting, but it’s something we’re taking a very hard look at for the future,” Hard Rock President Matt Harkness told The Press of Atlantic City.

Hard Rock will formally open its doors at 11 am ET on June 28. Just north along the Boardwalk, Ocean Resort Casino will hold its grand opening two hours later at 1 pm.

Entertainment Over Gambling

Transformed from its former Trump Taj Mahal Indian-themed incarnation at a cost of more than $500 million, Hard Rock says its goal is to become an entertainment destination.

“When we announced that we were going to step in the Atlantic City gaming market, we had a different view point,” Hard Rock International CEO Jim Allen declared in April. “It’s not about gaming. It’s about entertainment.”

The resort is living up to its chief executive’s word by planning over 300 live concerts in its renovated 7,000-seat theater in year one.

Ocean Resort owner Bruce Deifik revealed last week during his property’s license application process that it’s difficult to compete with Hard Rock in booking A-list acts. But he’ll be afforded with, at least temporarily, the only sportsbook on the northern end of the Boardwalk.

Ocean Resort and sportsbook giant William Hill reached a partnership deal last month. Sports betting will be offered when the casino opens on Thursday.

Resorts Casino Hotel, the other northern Boardwalk casino, has yet to announce plans to enter the sports betting space. That means guests of Resorts, Hard Rock, non-casino Showboat, and Ocean Resort will have only one available sportsbook for the time being in the immediate area.

MGM’s Borgata already has its sportsbook operational at the Marina District property. New Jersey regulators could authorize remote mobile sports betting within the state’s borders, but currently, bets must be placed in person.

Comparing Casinos

Hard Rock will feature a 167,000-square-foot casino offering 2,100 slot machines and 120 table games. Ocean Resort will come with 131,000 square feet of gaming space, with 2,000 slot machines and 100 tables, plus a sportsbook.

Hard Rock has 20 restaurants and bars, including its namesake café. Ocean Resort features 13 eateries and watering holes.

Hard Rock is betting on entertainment to lure in visitors, while Ocean Resort is fixated on becoming a casino that’s welcoming to all.

“We are going to ensure that customers who don’t get personal attention at other properties get personal attention here,” Ocean Resort CEO Frank Leone told state gaming regulators.

That’s a stark contrast from Revel, the casino’s original concept. Customers criticized the $2.4 billion resort for catering only to high-end consumers.