Hard Rock Launches Digital Arm to Power Global Sports Betting and Interactive Gaming Operations

Eyeing fast-expanding markets

Hard Rock International (HRI) has announced the launch of Hard Rock Digital, a joint enterprise formed with leading names from the gaming industry, to grow its market presence worldwide.

Hard Rock Digital will focus on the rapidly expanding sports betting and interactive gaming market

As the exclusive digital vehicle for the Florida-based Hard Rock brand and Seminole Gaming (SGA), Hard Rock Digital will focus on the rapidly expanding sports betting and interactive gaming market. It will tap into SGA and HRI’s global customer database of over 130 million customers, gaining access to almost 250 brick-and-mortar venues across 76 countries.

Two Americans established the Hard Rock in London, England, in 1971. The Seminole Tribe of Florida purchased the brand in 2007. SGA operates seven Florida gaming locations for the Seminole tribe, including Seminole Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos in Tampa and Hollywood, Florida.

Led by a trio of former Stars

According to a news release on Monday, three former The Stars Group (TSG) executives will lead the new digital venture, which SGA, HRI, and its partners will bankroll and back.

Co-executive managing directors Rafi Ashkenazi, Marlon Goldstein, and Matt Primeaux will hold roles of executive chair, CEO, and president, respectively. Ashkenazi is set to come on board in the new year, following “a garden leave period”. All three will report to a new, independent board of directors specially created for the new digital arm and chaired by HRI chairman Jim Allen.

Besides TSG, the executive trio was also instrumental in spearheading the growth of other sports betting and gambling technology brands, such as FOX Bet and Playtech.

Allen said Hard Rock’s creation of the digital operation has the aim of “broadening our digital business which enhances consumer experiences” across its sportsbook and interactive gaming channels. Hard Rock Digital would go after “strategic branding and distribution opportunities” globally and in the US, he added.

Future projections estimate the US sports wagering market to be worth $7bn, with online gaming weighing in at $14bn.

Something in the air

In the news release, Hard Rock Digital’s CEO and executive managing director Marlon Goldstein described the parent company as being at the vanguard of the gaming industry in terms of its innovation and forward-thinking approach. Hard Rock Digital was eager to offer an “authentic, digital experience for Hard Rock’s global fan base within a comprehensive, omni-channel offering,” he added.

no mention of what role HRI’s current iGaming/sports betting partner Scientific Games Corp might play

The Monday announcement, however, made no mention of what role HRI’s current iGaming and sports betting partner Scientific Games Corp might play in Hard Rock Digital, despite the two parties extending their existing relationship in late September.

Also in September 2020, Hard Rock International and Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) severed their sports wagering service and platform provision partnership. GiG’s departure means Hard Rock’s online operations require a new provider, which could come on board in the first quarter of 2020.

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