Golden Nugget’s Frown May Turn Upside Down If NBA Betting Ban Lifts

Golden Nugget could soon have NBA betting at its sportsbooks and those of its online sports partners in New Jersey.

The state’s Assembly Appropriations Committee on Tuesday approved a proposed bill that allows any casino owner who holds a stake of 10% or more in any sports franchise to accept wagers on events within those leagues.

Simplified, Golden Nugget, whose owner Tilman Fertitta runs the  Houston Rockets, would be allowed to add NBA wagering to its NJ sports betting portfolio.

On Thursday, the bill passed the NJ Assembly. A companion bill in the Senate awaits action.

More on the proposed bill

Previously, the state did not allow casinos to offer betting on leagues in which owners held at least 10% of a stake in franchises competing in said leagues.

From the regulations:

“The direct or indirect legal or beneficial owner of 10 percent or more of a sports governing body or any of its member teams shall not place or accept any wager on a sports event in which any member team of that sports governing body participates.”

This new bill makes a subtle change. It simply deleted “or any of its member teams.”

Rather than casting a wide net and banning regulated betting on entire leagues in which casino owners have ownership interests, this bill narrows the focus.

A long-awaited NJ sports betting amendment

As a result of state restrictions, Golden Nugget, and its online sports betting partner BetAmerica, have gone without NBA action in its operation.

Interestingly, in Nevada, Golden Nugget is only prohibited from accepting wagers on games in which the Rockets play.

When New Jersey neared, and ultimately launched, regulated sports betting last summer, Golden Nugget hoped to convince legislators to craft similar rules.

Obviously, that did not happen.

Now, a year later, a proposed bill — which has mirroring legislation referred to the state Senate’s Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee — would do just that.

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Restriction already played a role in the market

Fertitta’s property went without NBA wagering since its retail sportsbook opened in August 2018. Additionally, Golden Nugget’s online sportsbook, which launched earlier this year, falls under the same restriction.

The regulatory reach extends to partner brands, as well, which includes BetAmerica Sportsbook.

As such, for the entirety of the 2018-2019 NBA season, Golden Nugget’s NJ online gambling revenue did not include NBA betting. Golden Nugget’s sports betting revenue was less than $30,000 in May 2019 when the NBA post-season was in full play.

Recall that an original online sports betting partner of Golden Nugget, SugarHouse Sportsbook, jumped ship and teamed with Monmouth Park last fall.

According to reports, such a decision came down due to the state’s prohibition of NBA wagering imposed on Golden Nugget and its partners.

About the Author

Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is a longtime sportswriter who has covered the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant has covered games and written features and columns surrounding prep sports, Linfield, and Oregon State athletics and the Portland Trail Blazers throughout his career.