According to current laws in New Jersey, if a casino owner is also involved in a sports team, that casino is not allowed to accept sports wagers for that particular sport. The law isn’t wide-reaching – only the Golden Nugget is impacted – but it still prevents the casino’s sportsbook from being able to fairly compete with its rivals. If a bill currently in the works from several lawmakers finds enough support, the law could change, and the Golden Nugget Atlantic City (Golden Nugget AC) could be able to take bets on professional basketball.
Golden Nugget is owned by Tilman Fertitta, the Texas billionaire that not too long ago wanted to buy Caesars Entertainment. Fertitta is also the majority of the Houston Rockets, an NBA team out of Texas. As such, Golden Nugget AC is prohibited from allowing any wagers on NBA games.
Assembly bill 5463 would change this, though. It was introduced, as the name suggests, in the state’s Assembly and has already found support from a few lawmakers. The bill would allow an “owner of 10 percent or more of member team of [a sport team’s] governing body to place or accept wagers on certain sports events in which other member teams participate.” The one caveat is that sports wagers would still not be permitted on games that involved the Rockets.
Basketball, according to statistics, accounts for over one-third of all bets handled by New Jersey sportsbooks between January and May of this year. More than $632 million was wagered during the period, but Golden Nugget certainly was not a major beneficiary of the gambling revenue. It only picked up revenue of $162,838 while, by way of comparison, Meadowlands Racetrack took in $53.4 million.
It should be pointed out that, lumped into the basketball revenue figure are wagers on the collegiate March Madness tournament, which was very successful for sportsbooks and some bettors. The fact that Golden Nugget’s performance was so low is a sign that the current restrictions against its offerings are sending gamblers to other venues that have greater flexibility.
Things could have been worse for Golden Nugget and Fertitta. The sports gambling draft in New Jersey initially would have prevented it from accepting action from any sport. Fortunately, that language was changed before the bill became law.