Avid NJ sports fans who have waited for months for football season to start are now reveling in the action. But before you know it, there will be even more games to bet on. The 2019-2020 NBA season is right around the corner.
Ready or not, the regular NBA season tips off Oct. 22. But one NJ sportsbook that will be more than ready is Golden Nugget.
Better late than never. When Gov. Murphy signed the bill into law on June 11, 2018 allowing sports betting at authorized sites in New Jersey, Golden Nugget faced certain restrictions that did not apply elsewhere. That placed it at a huge disadvantage. The problem was that Tilman Fertitta, the owner of Golden Nugget Atlantic City, also owns one of the NBA teams, the Houston Rockets.
Last year Golden Nugget could not take wagers on any NBA games
A specific provision in the NJ law forbade team owners from either placing or accepting any bets on any games involving their sport. Therefore, not only the Golden Nugget sportsbook in Atlantic City, but also its online and mobile affiliates, could not offer any betting on the NBA at all.
The parent company of Golden Nugget, Landry, Inc., raised strong objections. It argued that Golden Nugget’s Nevada sportsbooks were only barred from accepting bets on games involving the Houston Rockets, not other NBA teams. Nevertheless, the inability of Golden Nugget to accept any wagers on professional basketball games from NJ bettors continued for the entire 2018-2019 season through the playoffs.
Golden Nugget sportsbook in NJ lost a lot of business as a result
The ban on all NBA betting significantly impacted Golden Nugget sportsbook’s bottom line. Customers who bet on multiple sports like the convenience of one-stop shopping. Unless a difference in lines favors doing otherwise, the rationale is why split the action when you can place all of your bets, watch the games, and cash your winning tickets at the same location.
PlaySugarHouse.com, which originally partnered with Golden Nugget, saw the writing on the wall and got out in the nick of time, Last October PlaySugarHouse dropped Golden Nugget as its NJ online sports betting licensing partner and switched to Monmouth Park instead.
That left Golden Nugget itself and its online licensee BetAmerica as the only affected NJ sportsbooks. Golden Nugget was the only Atlantic City casino sportsbook affected by the betting restriction.
According to General Counsel for Landry, Inc., Steve Scheinthal:
“It was like going into a boxing ring with one arm tied behind your back. You just can’t compete that way. It gave everyone a year’s head start on us.”
Among NJ sportsbooks, Golden Nugget has lagged way behind most of its competitors
Golden Nugget sportsbook, like all other NJ sportsbooks, was open daily from its inception. It also offered a full slate of betting options on other sports like college and pro football and college basketball, just to name a few. But because both football and college basketball overlapped with the first half of the NBA season, besides taking in zero revenue from NBA bets during that entire time, Golden Nugget also lost a lot of potential revenue from other sports.
NJ sports betting revenue latest reports for 2019
In fact, Golden Nugget, the same NJ gambling website which consistently leads all others in casino gambling, has lagged far behind most of its competitors in sports betting revenue.
According to a September 12, 2019 article on www.play nj.com, at Golden Nugget and BetAmerica online sportsbooks combined, the total sports betting revenue for August amounted to only $181,427. In comparison, digital sportsbook leader–the two Meadowlands affiliated sites FanDuel and PointsBet–reported combined revenue of $9,268,586. The year to date differences is no less dramatic: $50,864 vs. $6,718,601.
Meanwhile, the Golden Nugget sportsbook in Atlantic City took in only $263,030 in August and only $483,096 for 2019 to date (Jan.-Aug.). The Meadowlands, on the other hand, took in $2,597.973 in August and $17,095,266 for January through August. Out of a total of 10 NJ retail sportsbooks (eight at Atlantic City casinos plus Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands), Golden Nugget sportsbook trailed all but one in year to date revenue. Only Harrah’s made less money from sports betting.
NJ sports revenue for 2018
However, the summer is a relatively slow season for all sportsbooks. So a much more telling indicator of the adverse effect that not being able to take NBA bets has had on Golden Nugget would be to look at the revenue reported by different NJ sportsbooks during peak betting periods in 2018.
For example, in December, 2018, besides the NBA, NJ sportsbooks were taking bets on football, college basketball, and hockey. Yet the Golden Nugget Atlantic City sportsbook only generated $82,532 in revenue. Sports betting revenue at the Meadowlands for the same period totaled $3,577,177.
Golden Nugget did not launch its online sportsbook until Feb. 19, 2019. But among retail sports betting operators, it ranked dead last.
During the 2019-2020 basketball season, Golden Nugget can finally start taking NBA bets in NJ
Now Golden Nugget and its many loyal Atlantic City and NJ online and mobile players can breathe a big sigh of relief. On Fri., Sept. 13, Gov. Murphy signed a bill that will allow both the Golden Nugget sportsbook in Atlantic City and its online and mobile affiliates to accept bets on all NBA games that don’t include the Houston Rockets.
The response from Steve Scheinthal, general counsel for Landry, Inc. was immediate and enthusiastic. Scheinthal had this to say:
“We’re grateful and appreciative that people eventually realized this was an overreaction. It allows us to compete.”
Not much can be considered a sure thing in the uncertain world of sports betting. But with most NBA games no longer off limits, it’s a slam dunk that in the months ahead, revenue at Golden Nugget’s NJ sportsbooks will go way up. We expect that Golden Nugget will be most eager to capitalize on its new NBA betting options with special early season promotions specifically for this sport. We will highlight the best of them here on NJ Gambling Websites.