An eleventh-hour reprieve from the New Jersey Legislature will allow the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City to offer sports betting.
There’s only one catch: Golden Nugget will not be allowed to take bets on any NBA game. Casino owner Tilman Fertitta also owns the Houston Rockets of the NBA and lawmakers do not like the appearance of conflicts.
The bill earned quick approval in both the Assembly and Senate and NJ sports betting can begin as soon as Gov. Phil Murphy signs it. The governor’s public calendar for Friday does not include a bill signing as of now.
Golden Nugget avoided a much worse fate
Considering what Golden Nugget faced just days ago, a deal that allows the casino to offer most sports betting looks good.
The first amended version of the bill allowed no sports betting for any licensed casino operator who owns more than 10 percent of a team. That followed an original version that did not allow for any team ownership by casino operators.
While a couple of small carveouts exempted MGM Resorts (WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces) and Caesars (NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and NHL’s New Jersey Devils), Golden Nugget appeared stuck.
Fertitta does not accept bets on the Rockets at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas. But that did not appear to satisfy New Jersey lawmakers.
Golden Nugget’s appeals worked, however, and the casino will offer single-game wagering on everything except the NBA.
Golden Nugget officials express their gratitude
Tom Pohlman, general manager of Golden Nugget Atlantic City, thanked legislators for eventually hearing their pleas.
“We are grateful to the legislature for listening to our concerns and including the Golden Nugget in the sports betting legislation. We look forward to taking our first bets on professional and college football, baseball, college basketball, soccer, hockey, MMA, etc.
“While we recognize that today the legislation will prohibit us from accepting wagers solely on the NBA, we hope to persuade the lawmakers over time that the total NBA ban is unnecessary and should be limited simply to the Houston Rockets team owned by Mr. Fertitta.”
NJ sports betting ready to go
Assuming Murphy signs the bill soon, Monmouth Park and other Atlantic City casinos are ready to start accepting sports wagers almost immediately.
The William Hill-branded sportsbook at Monmouth Park was built out months ago, and the company brought in staff to prepare for launch right after the US Supreme Court repealed PASPA last month.
New Jersey made this expansion possible by fighting the constitutionality of PASPA all the way up to the Supreme Court over the course of years. Delaware beat New Jersey in the race to be the first state outside Nevada to offer sports betting by opening for business this week at Dover Downs.