Top New Jersey iCasino Operator Golden Nugget Inks Market Access Deal For Michigan

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The leading player in New Jersey’s booming online casino gambling market has announced a deal to soon offer gambling over the web in Michigan.

Following the legalization of online casino gambling in late 2019, top brands have been forming partnerships with retail casino operators within the Wolverine State. On Thursday, Golden Nugget announced a market access deal with the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. The tribe has two Ojibwa Casinos in the state’s Upper Peninsula.

The location of the casinos doesn’t matter to Golden Nugget, as it will be able to offer online casino play to anyone within state borders, pending licensure.

“Golden Nugget Online Gaming is thrilled to partner with the Ojibwa Casino to provide casino players in Michigan with a premium online casino and sportsbook experience,” Thomas Winter, Golden Nugget’s senior vice president and general manager of online gaming, said in a press release. “Players in Michigan will be able to appreciate our award-winning product offering and exceptional customer service from a nationally recognized and trusted brand.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Michigan regulators are working on potentially expediting the launch of online casino gambling to later this year, but a launch may come in early 2021.

There will not be a synchronized launch of online gambling, which means some operators will go live later than others. No timeline was given for Golden Nugget’s anticipated launch in the Wolverine State. It’s unclear if it had applied for a license at the time of the market access deal.

Competition increasing

The Golden Nugget is New Jersey’s top online casino provider. Through the first six months of 2020, the Golden Nugget’s online casino business generated $150,135,384 in revenue, up 91% compared to the same period in 2019, according to state figures.

The revenue was 35.5% of New Jersey’s online casino gambling market through the first half of this year.

Its competitors are slowly but surely closing the gap, but Golden Nugget remains on the throne in the Garden State.

The trio of online skins under the Golden Nugget license in New Jersey include the flagship goldennuggetcasino.com, but also betfaircasino.com and playsugarhouse.com.

In Michigan, each casino operator — tribal and commercial — is allowed one skin for online sports betting, one for online casino, and one for online poker.

The Golden Nugget doesn’t offer online poker in New Jersey, so it likely won’t in Michigan as well.

Advantages of the Golden Nugget as a partner

The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community snagged a partnership with arguably the most experienced online casino provider in the country. Golden Nugget has been offering online casino gambling in New Jersey since late 2013.

In late June, Golden Nugget owner Tilman Fertitta and purchaser Landcadia Holdings II Inc. announced that the company’s online casino business would be spun off into its only public company, Golden Nugget Online Gaming Inc. The company is valued at $745 million and the deal is expected to close in the third quarter of this year.

The U.S. online gambling industry is still nascent, so a lot can change, but Golden Nugget is an exceptional partner for the tribe.

“We are excited to partner with Golden Nugget to bring online casino and sports betting to the state of Michigan,” said Keweenaw Bay Indian Community President Chris Swartz. “Working with a strong brand will be a perfect complement to our brand new casino in Marquette as well as our casino in Baraga.”

One of the more innovative online gambling offerings Golden Nugget has become known for in New Jersey has been live dealer games over the internet.

In August 2016, Golden Nugget Casino became the first New Jersey online casino to offer the live dealer product. The games are streamed directly from a studio located at Golden Nugget AC. The offering has proved popular and should be as well in Michigan.

However, right now it’s unclear whether the Golden Nugget will have a live studio for online casino games at either of the tribe’s casinos, at least at the outset.

The bottom line is that Golden Nugget will help the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community compete right away with online casino competitors such as DraftKings, FanDuel, and betMGM.

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Brian Pempus

Brian served as a senior reporter and online content manager for Card Player Magazine for nearly a decade before joining USBets in October 2018. He is currently focused on legal and regulated sports betting and online gaming. He's an avid jiu-jitsu practitioner in his free time.

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