Golden Nugget Online Severs Land-Based Casino & Goes Public

As one of the top online casinos in New Jersey, the Golden Nugget’s application to sever its online casino arm from its land-based casino business has finally been approved by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission (NJCCC).

After hearing from two company executives in last week’s 90-minute hearing, the NJCCC Review Team of Chairman, James T. Plousis granted the new casino license for the new Golden Nugget Online Gaming LLC as an online affiliate of the Golden Nugget Atlantic City.

What that means, is that once the deal between special acquisition company Landcadia II and the Golden Nugget Online is finalized following final approval by Federal regulators, Golden Nugget Online will become a publicly-traded company with its shares available for trading on the Nasdaq composite index. Once the deal goes through, the Golden Nugget Online Gaming Inc will adopt the Nasdaq trading moniker “GNOG”.

The deal values the combined company at an anticipated $745 million, Landcadia II will assume $150 million of GNOG debt and will pay down another $150 million of debt upon closing out the deal.

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The experts’ testimony to the Golden Nugget hearing

Richard Liem, Treasurer and Senior Vice President of Golden Nugget Atlantic City, testified in the hearing that the primary benefit of taking an online gaming entity public was an ease of access to capital. As a smaller retail casino operator, he said, Golden Nugget’s strong online performance and brand could be boosted more easily to permit the company to compete with larger online casino brands across different markets;

“You need to have adequate access to capital to be able to grow and compete effectively in this nascent and very quickly growing industry,” Liem said.

Representing the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE), Executive Dylan Thompson did express his concerns that the Golden Nugget’s land-based casino operations in Atlantic City could suffer and become compromised by the amounts being invested into the online arm at the expense of the iconic Casino Hotel;

“The transaction would deprive (Golden Nugget Atlantic City) of the much-needed cash flow from internet gaming on a permanent basis,” Thompson said.

James Plousis, NJCCC Chairman James Plousis said understood the NJDGE’s concerns and as such, proposed recommendations ensuring that the iconic Golden Nugget Atlantic City bricks-and-mortar casino would not become a poor second cousin of secondary importance to the company’s online gaming;

“I will note, however, that while there may continue to be variations in Golden Nugget’s online gaming versus land-based gaming revenue, particularly as the industry as a whole works to recover from the impact of COVID-19, I am satisfied with the petitioners’ assurances that they are committed to Golden Nugget Atlantic city’s ongoing financial stability,” Plousis said.

“I am convinced that Mr. Fertitta (representing Landcadia II) will protect Golden Nugget’s brand of excellence and elegance, and will do so by supporting, maintaining and ultimately growing the Atlantic City casino hotel facility.” Plousis concluded.

With that statement, the approval of the deal was assured.

The new created entity for the Golden Nugget is set to become only the second pure publicly traded online casino company in the United States, after DraftKings Inc., the Boston-based online casino and sports betting / daily fantasy sports operator that was among the first set of companies to enter the legalized online and mobile sports betting market, became the first, going public in April.

It is expected that GNOG will maintain its offices based in Atlantic City as the newly created company’s HQ. With the announcement of the NJCCC approval, the Golden Nugget brand announced that it is looking to push forward with online casino expansion plans into Michigan and neighboring Pennsylvania in 2021.

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