Maybe Golden Nugget Will Accept NBA Bets In New Jersey After All

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NJ sports betting

A new NJ sports betting bill would lift an NBA betting ban that stifled the first year of wagers at Golden Nugget in New Jersey.

Mirroring bills in the New Jersey Assembly and Senate propose eliminating the restriction on those who own casinos and sports franchises. Golden Nugget owner Tilman Fertitta, who founded Landry’s Restaurants and reportedly is worth $4.5 billion, owns the NBA’s Houston Rockets.

According to A5463:

Permits owner of 10 percent or more of member team of sports governing body to place or accept wagers on certain sports events in which other member teams participate.

Initially assigned to the Appropriations committee yesterday, the Assembly bill could be on the move but is in no rush, as New Jersey’s legislature meets throughout the year. A companion bill exists in the Senate as well.

Ban led to NJ sports betting market movement

Golden Nugget and online licensee BetAmerica are the only brands to suffer from the ban under current NJ sports betting law. Sponsored in the Assembly by Reps. Raj Mukherji and John Burzichelli, this new bill would allow NBA betting on all games not involving the Rockets.

Even if the bill becomes law this year, it appears too late to help Golden Nugget when the casino really needed it. SugarHouse Sportsbook jumped from Golden Nugget to Monmouth Park for its online NJ sports betting operation in October, in large part because SugarHouse could not offer NBA odds under Fertitta’s license.

Thankful for even the NBA

Even a blanket NBA ban looked better than what Golden Nugget faced a year ago. The original version of the NJ sports betting bill included a full ban on offering legal sports betting for owners of more than 10% of a franchise.

Golden Nugget lobbied for the removal of that restriction and won just a partial victory with the current state of affairs. The new bill would create a situation like the one under which Fertitta operates in Nevada, where the Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas can offer NBA wagers not including the Rockets.

Golden Nugget trailing in revenue

With the NBA off the board, Golden Nugget stands at the back of the line in New Jersey sports betting revenue.

The Atlantic City casino generated less than $30,000 in overall revenue last month. That includes a loss of more than $16,000 in online sports betting — the vertical that accounts for more than 80% of NJ sports betting revenue in 2019.

In fact, Golden Nugget’s year-to-date sports betting revenue stands at less than $163,000. By comparison, market leader FanDuel Sportsbook accounts for the bulk of more than $53 million in sports betting revenue at Meadowlands Racetrack in 2019.