[toc]A document sent by Hard Rock International to gaming regulators in New Jersey indicates that the casino and hospitality giant might want to get into the daily fantasy sports business.
Hard Rock AC + fantasy sports = ?
Legal Sports Report obtained the document via an open-records request; the document was first reported by The Associated Press on Hard Rock’s plans for the former Trump Taj Mahal. (Hard Rock bought the shuttered casino resort earlier this year and plans to reopen it in 2018.)
The document talks generally about its plans for gaming at the casino. It flags any concerns that might need to go through the NJ Department of Gaming Enforcement. Among its plans is to offer fantasy sports, in some fashion:
We would like the ability to host Fantasy Sports. …
We believe that this will enhance the customer experience and allow the New Jersey Casinos to remain competitive with other jurisdictions that already offer this type of gaming. This proposal has negative impact on gross gaming revenue and should increase (gross gaming) revenue and appeal to Millennials.
The document appears to ask for reassurance from NJDGE that running fantasy contests would be legal under state law. The scope and logistics of such a plan by Hard Rock is unknown.
You can see the document here.
New Jersey, fantasy sports and sports betting
New Jersey regulators already intimated that paid-entry fantasy sports are legal in the state. One property in AC — Resorts — is already in the middle of trying to roll out a fantasy-style product, called Fast Pick. That is one of a variety of parlay or prediction-based games on the market trying to gain a foothold by differentiating themselves from the salary-cap model offered by DraftKings, FanDuel and others.
Nonetheless, the state legislature has been working on a bill to formally legalize paid-entry fantasy sports while also regulating and taxing operators in the state.
The NJ sports betting case, meanwhile, is still active, as the state is still awaiting its fate on its attempt to allow legal single-game wagering. The US Supreme Court will make a decision whether to hear New Jersey’s appeal next week.
Casinos, gaming operators starting to dip their toes in DFS
The action in AC from both Resorts and Hard Rock appears to signal that the days of casinos keeping fantasy sports at arm’s length are coming to an end.
Obviously Hard Rock and other gaming operators in the state would love to offer sports betting, if allowed. Offerings that meet the requirements of fantasy contests under state and federal law are the next best thing.
DFS is increasingly becoming a regulated product, with 12 states having passed laws that regulate the activity. That should allow previously licensed gaming operators — who were afraid to get into the fantasy space without that legal clarity — to get more involved in the industry.
How far casinos will go and how quickly it will happen is unknown. But the days of them sitting on the sidelines appear to be over.