Analysis

Golden Nugget rolls the dice in Illinois

Golden Nugget has committed to building a casino in Illinois, gaining market access for sports-betting and potentially online gaming.

Golden Nugget Online Gaming (GNOG) has signed a deal with Danville Development to build a casino in Illinois, giving it sports betting market access and, potentially, online gaming.

Under the terms of a joint venture with the Wilmot Gaming Illinois group, the casino in Danville will be branded Golden Nugget.

The casino will give GNOG market access in the fifth most populous state and the largest sports betting state so far. 

It will also enable the company to offer online gaming should it be legalized.

“We are thrilled to gain market access in Illinois,” said Thomas Winter, President of GNOG. 

“This is a tremendous opportunity for us to further increase our US footprint and deliver on our ambitious growth plans.  

“We look forward to bringing our award-winning online offerings to the Prairie State.”

Stepping out

Illinois is currently sixth on the Wedge Index, just outside the top five. 

Whether the relatively high gaming-friendliness rating is retained will depend on whether Gov. Pritzker continues to allow remote registration.

GNOG owner and CEO Tilman J. Fertitta noted this was GNOG’s first JV on a casino project. It won the bid to be the partner with Wilmott after a competitive tender.

Said Fertitta: “Having the ability to grow the Golden Nugget brand in Illinois in both the online and land-based markets is an exciting opportunity.”

James A. Wilmot, Vice President of Wilmot, added the “nationally recognized” Golden Nugget brand “upgraded” the casino project.

Golden shot

Golden Nugget is clearly more gaming focused than sports betting, having risen to prominence in New Jersey with a market-leading online casino proposition.

In the third-quarter gross gaming revenue rose 95% to $28.9m. Winter said the record revenues were supported by all-time-high player activity and sustained marketing investments.

Fertitta said at the time of the results the company hoped to offer casino in Michigan before the end of this year. The company added that the licensing process in Pennsylvania is ongoing.

Special measures

Golden Nugget Online Gaming is subject to a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) deal with Landcadia Holdings II, also owned by Fertitta. The transaction was valued at $745m and is set to close this month.  

The deal was one of many gaming-related SPACs taking advantage of investor interest in sports betting and online gaming.

“When customers hear the name Golden Nugget, they know they are dealing with a trusted online gaming business,” Fertitta said.

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Scott Longley

Scott Longley has been a journalist since the early noughties covering personal finance, sport and the gambling industry. He has worked for a number of publications including Investor's Week, Bloomberg Money, Football First, EGR and GamblingCompliance.com. He now writes for online and print titles across a wide range of sectors.

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