Hard Rock Games is born, Hard Rock's F2P division; influence from Playtech?

Recent acquisition of WGames culminates in new division for Seminole Tribe-owned operator.

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Key takeaways:

- Playtech is involved in Hard Rock Digital via $85m investment earlier this year

- Rafi Ashkenazi, of Stars Group fame, spearheading project

- Increasing online expansion for tribes following recent Anaxi-Chickasaw deal (with Playtech also involved there)

Hard Rock Digital has announced the formation of Hard Rock Games – a 'new business unit' that will provide F2P (free-to-play) and mobile games.

F2P games are commonly used as an acquisition tool, something tribal operator Hard Rock will no doubt be hoping brings a key advantage given the current focus on player acquisition within US states.

Via its recent acquisition of WGames, what Hard Rock describes as a "leading social mobile gaming company," the new Hard Rock Games division is looking to benefit from "in-house technology" that aims to accelerate the operator's social gaming growth.

What is perhaps of interest here is just how influential Playtech has been in this deal, following its $85m acquisition of a minority stake in Hard Rock Digital back in March.

Playtech, formerly an industry giant, has seen its impact quieten within the sector and share price fall in recent years. However, it may well be playing a key role in the creation of Hard Rock Games, while it also recently got involved in Anaxi's deal with another tribal operator – Chickasaw Nation, prompting a slight resurgence in its stock since October.

Generally, both of these recent partnerships show a growing trend of tribes branching out into the iGaming sphere.

Another key player of note here is Rafi Ashkenazi, EMD (Executive Managing Director) of Hard Rock Digital. Ashkenazi joined the Hard Rock Digital project in December 2020 but is a household name within gaming following his time with PokerStars.

"Hard Rock Games' enhanced capabilities will allow us to better engage our worldwide player communities with exceptional digital experiences and entertain our players like no one else can" – Rafi Ashkenazi

That spell in his career culminated in the Stars Group being taken over by Flutter Entertainment in a £3.8bn ($4.76bn) deal.

Daniel Kajouie, Founder of WGames, will serve as MD of the newly formed Hard Rock Games.

Ashkenazi said of the new venture: "With the addition of WGames' games, technology and operations, we have set the stage to accelerate growth for our social gaming business.

"Hard Rock Games' enhanced capabilities will allow us to better engage our worldwide player communities with exceptional digital experiences and entertain our players like no one else can."

Meanwhile, Kajouie added: "It's truly an honour to be part of the incredible Hard Rock organisation, a global entertainment and hospitality leader, and we look forward to developing immersive gaming experiences for our millions of customers worldwide."

It has been a busy time of late for Hard Rock and its parent, the Seminole Tribe, following the launch of sports betting and expansion of its casino games in Florida after protracted legal battles.


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