The clock is ticking for Texas billionaire Tilman Fertitta as New Jersey lawmakers look to approve a sports betting bill that may bar his casino from offering the product.
Fertita must quickly decide whether he’ll give up ownership of the National Basketball Association’s Houston Rockets within a year so his Golden Nugget casino will be allowed to offer sports betting or keep his team and forfeit his right to offer sports betting, according to the Star Tribune report.
Under NJ’s propoosed sports betting legislation, anyone who owns 10 percent or more of a sports team would be barred from running a sports betting business in the state. Sen. Stephen Sweeney, the main sponsor of the Senate bill, noted that the provision was included to ensure the integrity of both casinos and sports teams.
Technically, casino operators may secure sports betting licenses after betting is legalized in the state but they need to divest their stakes in any professional sports team within the year. If they fail to unload all of their stake before that deadline expires, operators will not only lose their licenses but also they will be compelled to repay New Jersey all the money they earned from sports betting up to that point.
Gaming analysts believe that MGM Resorts International’s Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa and three casinos owned by Caesars Entertainment will be the big winners once New Jersey’s sports betting bill is ratified.
Theoretically, both Caesars and MGM shouldn’t be allowed to offer sports betting since they have exposure to sports teams. MGM has a stake in the professional WNBA team Las Vegas Aces while Caesars is owned by Apollo Capital Management, which is co-founded by Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils principal owner Joshua Harris.
Unlike the Golden Nugget, MGM and Caesars won’t be barred from offering sports betting since the WNBA team makes up less than 1 percent of MGM’s annual revenue while Harris’ stake in Caesars is under the 10% threshold.
New Jersey lawmakers will cast their final votes to allow New Jersey casinos and racetracks to accept sports bet on Thursday.