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The move will allow PlaySugarHouse to offer wagering on NBA games as the basketball season gets underway. PlaySugarHouse was unable to participate due to its license under Golden Nugget.
PlaySugarHouse will keep its online casino license with Golden Nugget. The move only affects the sportsbook, even though the two functions are integrated into the same site.
Loss of NBA betting is a big pill to swallow
Golden Nugget is prohibited from offering wagers on NBA games. Golden Nugget’s owner, Tilman Fertitta, is also the owner of the NBA’s Houston Rockets.
The prohibition is a compromise that Fertitta struck with the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement to allow Golden Nugget to open a sportsbook in the state. When the Golden Nugget initially applied, the state entertained the idea of refusing to allow the casino to operate a sportsbook due to Fertitta’s inherent conflict of interest.
For his part, Fertitta is reportedly attempting to negotiate further with the state. He wants the prohibition only to affect wagering on games involving the Houston Rockets, rather than the entire NBA. Golden Nugget enjoys a similar arrangement with the state of Nevada, so there is something of a precedent for this kind of arrangement.
Still, the loss of wagering on NBA games is a tremendous blow for a sportsbook to stomach. According to EGR Global, wagering on the NBA accounted for 15 percent of Nevada’s entire sports betting handle in 2017.
PlaySugarHouse made the decision that it could not afford to wait on any kind of negotiation. The deal with Monmouth Park will remove any special prohibitions that the sportsbook must observe. Obviously, New Jersey sports betting rules concerning disallowed bets will remain in effect.
No online sportsbook can afford to lose ground on DraftKings
To some, this move may seem oddly specific. However, PlaySugarHouse cannot afford to cede any advantage in the increasingly tight New Jersey online sports betting market.
According to figures supplied by the NJ DGE, PlaySugarHouse lags far behind market leader DraftKings. Despite coming in third in the state and improving its revenue by six times as much as August 2018, PlaySugarHouse still reported revenues less than 10 percent of DraftKings’s reported take.
So, it’s no surprise that PlaySugarHouse decided to make a move away from Golden Nugget and its sports betting limitation. After all, Golden Nugget is the clear leader on the online casino side of things in New Jersey. So, perhaps it doesn’t mind the loss of one sport.
However, to paraphrase a famous movie character, PlaySugarHouse minds. This aggression from DraftKings will not stand.