The leading New Jersey online casino operator is doubling down on its virtual gaming emphasis.
At a live-streamed public meeting last week, the New Jersey Casino Control Commission granted a casino license to Golden Nugget Online Gaming LLC as an online affiliate of the brick-and-mortar Golden Nugget Atlantic City casino. It also conditionally approved a merger of Golden Nugget Online Gaming with Landcadia Holdings II Inc., a company currently traded on NASDAQ as “LCA” that plans to change its name to Golden Nugget Online Gaming Inc. and its trading symbol to “GNOG.” Landcadia is a special-purpose acquisitions company owned by Golden Nugget owner Tilman Fertitta.
Though the physical Golden Nugget casino consistently ranks at or near the bottom in revenue among Atlantic City’s nine properties, its online arm consistently ranks at the top — and out-earns its brick-and-mortar counterpart.
In October, for example, Golden Nugget’s internet gaming win was $28.1 million, $6 million more than the next highest earner in the state, but GN’s land-based casino win was just $10.5 million, the lowest in Atlantic City. Year-to-date, with COVID-19 casino closures widening the divide, the brand’s online revenue of $263.4 million has more than tripled the land-based win of $78.1 million.
With this move to take Golden Nugget Online Gaming public (federal regulators still need to approve the merger), the online casino is positioned to become an even larger focus of the company, with more capital behind it.
Worries that original GN gets left behind
That’s precisely what concerns the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, which was represented by Dylan Thompson at last Wednesday’s two-hour public meeting.
“The transaction would deprive [the brick-and-mortar Golden Nugget casino] of the much-needed cash flow from internet gaming on a permanent basis,” Thompson stated, hinting at the possibility of job loss if the Atlantic City property gets neglected. Casino Control Commission Chairman James Plousis recognized the concerns but expressed confidence that Golden Nugget would continue to support and fund its land-based operations.
If and when Golden Nugget Online Gaming goes public, it will become the second strictly online casino company in the U.S. to do so. DraftKings, which has both an online sportsbook and an online casino in the New Jersey market (and in several other states), went public in April.