The Heat is On at Hard Rock with Free Bets

Hard Rock Atlantic City is keeping its online sports customers engaged with the “Hard Rock Heat Streak.”

Before the current shutdown of the industry began a few weeks ago, Atlantic City casinos were generating healthy revenues, and no small part of that was thanks to the online gaming sites linked to the Atlantic City casinos and available to anyone with a smartphone or PC in New Jersey.

Most recently, the New Jersey online sportsbooks, most linked to those same iGaming sites, were in the thick of the emerging sports betting business heading into one of the hottest times of year for any books—March Madness, Stanley Cup Playoffs, NBA Playoffs, the start of the Major League Baseball season. And then…

With major sports around the world idled by the coronavirus pandemic, New Jersey’s freshly minted sportsbooks found themselves faced with a challenge to keep the customers they had acquired by the start of March loyal to each site. New Jersey books would need to keep their players engaged.

Hard Rock Atlantic City has found a simple and clever way to do just that: a promotion offering free over/under bets daily… on the weather. Called “Hard Rock Heat Streak,” the promotion is simple. Every day, publishes a list of selected U.S. cities, with the forecasted high temperature for the following day for each city. Players have until 11:59 p.m. to submit an over/under number for the following day’s high for each city.

On 11:59 p.m. the next day, with each city’s actual high temperature settled, payoffs are made, all linked to play on People nailing the exact temperature in their over/under pick will lose. Payoffs begin for those hitting the over/under three days in a row, and go up from there the longer the “Heat Streak” lasts.

The payoffs for the free play are designed to increase engagement with the iGaming site:

  • Three correct picks in a row = 20 Free Spins on slot game Jumanji (spins worth 50 cents each)
  • Five correct picks in a row = 30 Free Spins on slot game Jumanji (spins worth $0.50 each)
  • 10 correct picks in a row = 50 Free Spins on slot game Jumanji (spins worth $0.50 each)
  • 15 correct picks in a row = $50 in Slots Free Play
  • 20 correct picks in a row = $100 in Table Games Free Play
  • 25-plus correct picks in a row = 15% cash back on net losses for all casino play for each day you maintain the streak of correct picks (max $500 in cash back daily)

Matt Para, vice president of online gaming operations for parent Hard Rock International, led the charge on the idea. “Matt Para, along with our Sports Promotions Team, came up with Heat Streak in an effort to create a fun and engaging promotion for our players and cultivate a contest around a specific streak, which ultimately awards players with casino prizes for participation,” explained Lee Terfloth, vice president of online gaming product for Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, in an interview with GGB News.

Para says the idea was to keep things simple for the customer: There is no odds formula or other aspects of creating lines for sports wagering. “The player simply selects the over or under of the forecasted max temperature for the calendar day,” Para told GGB News, “and builds a streak of correct picks in order to unlock different prizes depending on the length of their streak.”

Para added that the free promotion fits in with the iGaming site’s marketing activities throughout the year. “We will continue to run contests throughout the year,” he said, “with our next contest focused on the NFL Draft. We have been running sports-centric contests since we opened in 2018, especially given they are easy to understand and participate in, yet ultimately drive acquisition and adhesiveness for us by encouraging repeat visits to the website to participate.”

Online casinos, of course, have been the one sector of the industry generating revenues during the nationwide coronavirus shutdown. While unable to detail specific performance numbers at this point, Terfloth said the site is generating healthy revenues right now by emphasizing the same player engagement that has led to a lot of crossover between online and brick-and-mortar play for the past two years. “Hard Rock Online has always seen excellent traction in converting customers that play with us on the land-based side to the online product,” Terfloth said.

“Our omni-channel integration into Wild Card Rewards is something that we have been focusing on since the first day of operation. Customers can earn both Comp Dollars and Tier Points online, and most recently we have been offering 2X Comp Dollars and Tier Points, so when Hard Rock Atlantic City opens our doors, they have the ability to stop in and have an excellent time cashing in rewards for their play at home.”

Hard Rock in Atlantic City also offers online play unlike any of the other sites, with its “Live Slots” feature. Launched in February, Live Slots are a row of 12 physical slot machines set up in a room at the Hard Rock Atlantic City property with a rig of cameras and microphones in front to record every play.

Partnering with the software firm Softweave, Ltd., Hard Rock has set up those physical slots to be operated remotely on a smartphone, tablet or PC. From their couch or armchair, players can touch a spin button on their mobile device to operate the physical slot machines.

The specific games are what is unavailable online—mechanical reel-spinners from IGT and some of the most popular video slots from Aristocrat. More games and more variety will be added in the coming months.

Live Slots, a first-of-its-kind slot experience unlike anything else in the world, continues to run irrespective (of the shutdown),” Terfloth said. “Using innovative technology, players can play real physical slot machines located in a private room at Hard Rock Atlantic City from the comfort of their home. Players can pick from a selection of some of the most popular titles including Leprecoins, Buffalo, Spitfire Multipliers, Hotter than Blaze, and 3x4x4x Double Times Pay, bet, and control the machine remotely.

“Since launching Live Slots in February, we have definitely seen interest climb. It’s possible that some of the extra interest is fueled by the fact that casinos are currently closed and is as real as it gets for slots players, but before any closures, we definitely saw interest trend upwards.”