New Jersey Casino Players Are The Real Winners In DraftKings-GNOG Deal

Written By Bill Gelman on May 10, 2022
GraftKings Acquires GNOG

Two of the biggest names in the New Jersey online gambling space – Golden Nugget Online Gaming and DraftKings – are now one.

DraftKings sent out a press release Thursday morning announcing the long-anticipated completion of the acquisition.

For those trying to figure out how big this deal is, Tilman Fertitta, chairman and CEO of Golden Nugget Online Gaming, summed it up by saying:

“This will be an alliance unlike any other in the digital sports, entertainment and online gaming industry.”

Golden Nugget Atlantic City is not part of the deal. While the idea of the Marina District property rebranding to DraftKings Hotel & Casino sounds like a cool concept, it’s not happening anytime soon.

The reason being is the GNOG acquisition does not include brick and mortar Golden Nugget casinos, which will continue to be owned by Fertitta Entertainment.

So the bigger question becomes what does this deal mean for NJ online casino and sports betting customers?

Could we see another DraftKings retail sportsbook open in Atlantic City?

Here is a look at what the GNOG and DraftKings deal means for both brands

The current DraftKings, GNOG New Jersey portfolio

Looking at this deal from an NJ sports betting perspective, there is DraftKings Sportsbook and Golden Nugget Sportsbook.

However, when you think of sports betting brands, does Golden Nugget even make your top-10 list?

We’re guessing probably not.

DraftKings, on the other hand, is one of the bigger brands out there.

On the NJ online casino side, Golden Nugget online casino is one of the top-performing apps available. In slots alone, the library currently includes nearly 1,000 titles.

Both platforms give players the option of jumping back and forth between sports and casino.

There also is a separate DraftKings Casino app available to NJ gamblers and currently has just under 400 slots. Maybe this will increase now that the deal is complete?

Since New Jersey doesn’t break the monthly revenue results down by brand, it’s hard to paint an exact picture how each product has performed on a month-by-month basis.

Every report is broken down by Atlantic City casino license.

Golden Nugget falls under the GNOG license and DraftKings operates under Resorts Digital. And in both cases, the totals are the combined results of at least five different online skins.

So why did these two companies become one?

Jason Robins, chairman and CEO of DraftKings, said “Acquiring Golden Nugget Online Gaming gives us synergies across our business.”

“We anticipate that this acquisition will provide meaningful revenue uplift by utilizing our data-driven marketing capabilities and a dual brand iGaming strategy, gross margin improvement opportunities, and cost savings across external marketing and SG&A,” said Robins.

And looking at this deal from a NJ perspective, where both brands are well-established, the two companies really do make a strong combination.

From a NJ online casino perspective, the Garden State is where Golden Nugget launched the live dealer concept. By launching, and introducing the product to North America, other states like Pennsylvania and Michigan have followed the example.

Several years later, live dealer studios are now operating 24/7, just like Atlantic City casino floors.

And others, like DraftKings, have taken that model and created a similar concept. Some take it a step further with themed or branded tables.

Hard to ignore the Golden Nugget online casino slot library

It seems highly unlikely anybody at DraftKings is complaining about the current slots menu available to Golden Nugget online casino players. To put the 986 games into perspective, the Golden Nugget AC casino floor has nearly 1,500 slot machines.

But with the mobile app, all the titles are only a click, not a drive away. And some of the games are exclusive to Golden Nugget players. Golden Nugget Stepper, Golden Nugget Video Slot and Golden Nugget Megaways are just a few of the titles.

Like on an Atlantic City casino floor, players can win six- and seven-figure jackpots using mobile casino apps.

It seems NJ online casino players are having luck playing the Golden Nugget Video Slot. Reviewing the list of New Jersey jackpots posted on the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement website, the title appears several times. Here are just a few mentions:

  • Feb. 21, $192,160.00
  • Feb. 26, $227,280.00
  • March 22, $143,720.00

However, all three of these jackpots don’t come close to matching the biggest Golden Nugget AC jackpot of 2022. In mid-January, somebody hit for over $2.8 million playing the Monopoly Money Grab penny slot.

As far as the online product goes, it will be interesting to see if the DraftKings Casino app suddenly expands its slots library. However, it seems the Golden Nugget Video Slot will remain exclusive to those players.

Could we see a DraftKings Sportsbook open at Golden Nugget?

Gamblers visiting Atlantic City to place bets at a retail sportsbook have nine different options.

And each of these spaces are different sizes and offer a variety of amenities. The Sportsbook at the Golden Nugget, for instance, is one of the smaller spaces at 2,500 square feet.

And guests can watch their favorite sporting events on the five video walls featuring 50-plus TVs.

However, if we are looking at things from a NJ sports betting revenue perspective, Golden Nugget isn’t what one would consider a NJ sports betting destination.

Through the first three months of 2022, Golden Nugget has lost $19,787 from wagers placed at its retail location. This includes Super Bowl and March Madness betting. And for March, the property won $328. Yes, as in hundred.

The reality is the majority of Garden State bettors are placing bets via mobile apps. So why not take advantage of this DK-GNOG deal and bring the DraftKings brand to the Marina District?

Fertitta owns the Golden Nugget and is now a major DraftKings shareholder. If done correctly, a DraftKings-branded retail sportsbook would be an added attraction, especially during NFL betting season.

Yes, Resorts Atlantic City already has a DraftKings Sportsbook, but it doesn’t mean another casino can’t do the same.

Bally’s Atlantic City and the Meadowlands Racetrack each have a FanDuel Sportsbook.

And Monmouth Park is home to a Caesars Sportsbook along with the three AC properties owned by Caesars Entertainment (Caesars, Tropicana and Harrah’s).

However, in the case of Golden Nugget, we are just speculating about an idea that could make sense and benefit the property. Nobody is publicly talking about it. At least not yet.

For now, we will sit back and wait to see if the DraftKings-GNOG deal changes anything on the NJ gambling scene.

Photo by AP/Charles Krupa
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Bill Gelman

Bill Gelman has been reporting on the NJ gambling market since 2018, right around when the Garden State launched sports betting. Bill transitioned from lead writer for PlayNJ and NJ Gambling Sites to his current role as managing editor in 2020. Besides offering in-depth analysis on NJ gambling market trends and news, Bill regularly sits down with Atlantic City casino industry executives to offer readers exclusive interviews and comprehensive coverage. Bill received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Ithaca College. He has contributed to other Catena Media sites including The Lines, Legal Sports Report, PlayPennsylvania and PlayCanada.

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