WagerWorks goes ‘Hard’ line

Aug 6, 2002 9:56 AM

Warming up for its online venture with MGM Mirage, WagerWorks has helped to launch HardRockCasino.com.

Andrew Pascal’s tech-savvy firm linked up with the Hard Rock hipsters and Rank Interactive Gaming Ltd. to develop a site that features a rich array of table, card and slot play — all to the tune of pulsating rock n’ roll music.

And like the bouncers at Hard Rock’s trendy clubs worldwide, WagerWorks provides security through age and border controls that keep illegal gamblers out of the e-casino.

"Our technology platform has satisfied the most rigorous testing and certification process yet conducted for any system supplier,’’ Pascal said. "This is a significant milestone for our company.’’

Partnering with the London-based Rank Group Plc. on Hard Rock, WagerWorks figures to score in the U.K. market, where Rank’s Mecca Bingo and Grosvenor Casino attract 5 million customers annually. Online, Rank.com, up just six months, is already the second most visited games site on the isles (ea.com is No.1).

As WagerWorks’ first online casino, HardRockCasino.com sets the stage for another Isle of Man venture, MGM Mirage’s upcoming virtual casino. This one-two punch makes the company "a substantial international force in the online gaming industry,’’ says Deutsche Bank analyst Marc Falcone.

Pascal, who has held gaming licenses in the past, now has WagerWorks lined up for online betting in Australia and on the Channel Islands off France. "The focus is clearly on the international market,’’ says Mike Martinez, the company’s vice president for marketing.

Though neither WagerWorks nor Rank would disclose the financial terms of their Isle of Man project, both are betting that HardRock’s blend of casino and sports wagering will be a hit wherever online gaming is legal. And for those who can’t put any money on the line, there’s also a "play for free’’ area.

"Customers are guaranteed a world class online casino experience,’’ Pascal pledges, noting the blend of Hard Rock ambience and a Vegas-style feel of the games.

"The site is edgier and more energetic than any other online casino,’’ adds Damian Cope, managing director of Rank Interactive.

Despite ongoing industry skittishness about Internet security, WagerWorks is confident that its WagerWare system will stand up to the test. It’s a pretty good wager that stateside regulators, as well as MGM-Mirage and other potential players, will be watching closely.