NBA Betting Ban Could Cost Golden Nugget Owner Millions in New Jersey

New Jersey sports betting kicked off last month to much fanfare, a celebration long in the making in the Garden State.

At one New Jersey casino, though, the party is not quite as hearty. The new law signed by Gov. Phil Murphy includes language effectively banning Golden Nugget Atlantic City from taking NBA wagers. It actually represents an improvement over earlier bill drafts that prohibited the casino from offering any sports betting in New Jersey.

The law bans anyone with a major interest in a particular sport from betting on or offering wagers on that sport. This includes players and referees, of course, but also casino owners. That means Golden Nugget owner Tilman Fertitta, who also owns the Houston Rockets, must take the NBA off the board and pass on millions of dollars in profits.

Prohibition could reduce profits for Golden Nugget

This could be a costly restriction on the Fertitta’s Atlantic City resort. Let’s take a closer look at how much money the property could lose without NBA betting …

Taking a 12-month period including an NBA season from Nevada sports betting numbers, we can see how much bettors wagered on basketball. From December 2016 to November 2017, that total is more than $1.46 billion and does not account for parlays.

Nevada regulators do not provide a breakdown between professional and college sports. Historically, though, the split between the two is close to 50-50. Using that, NBA betting would account for more than $732 million in handle in that period. That equals about 15 percent of the state’s total handle.

The federal government will receive more than $1.83 million of that from the quarter-percent excise tax on handle — we’ll get back to this.

How much is won on the NBA

From there, let’s apply the average Nevada win over the last 24 years of 5.52 percent, and the take for casinos totals more than $40.4 million. Now subtract taxes, which include the excise tax and Nevada’s gross gaming tax of 6.75 percent — roughly $35.8 million remains among all state casinos from NBA betting.

Obviously we do not know exactly what percentage of that would be wagered at one casino, nor are we adjusting for New Jersey’s market size and tax structure. New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement did not release handle figures for its opening day of sports betting. It plans to report those numbers on a monthly basis beginning in July.

By looking at Nevada, though, we can illustrate that Fertitta will forego millions in revenue by not booking the NBA.

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Golden Nugget hopes for future changes

Golden Nugget general manager Tom Pohlman looked forward following passage of the law:

“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.”

Fertitta also owns the Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas. At that property, Fertitta does not accept bets on the Rockets, but takes action on the rest of the league.

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