Golden Nugget online casino coming to Michigan

Golden Nugget Finds Its Partner for Michigan Online Gambling

New Jersey’s top dog in online casinos is coming to Michigan.

Golden Nugget revealed its partner on Thursday, joining forces with the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community to offer online casino games and sports betting. The company previously teased its entry but did not disclose the partnership at that time.

The Keweenaw Bay own and operate two Michigan casinos under the Ojibwa Casino brand, both in the Upper Peninsula.

“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,” said Thomas Winter, Golden Nugget’s senior vice president and general manager of online gaming.

Bringing a brick-and-mortar brand online

Golden Nugget is well ahead of the pack in the NJ online casino market. That dominance, however, is narrow in focus.

Although it has an online sportsbook as well, its revenue is among the lowest in the state. It also has no digital presence in any other state at the moment, though it should be getting its Pennsylvania licenses in a matter of weeks.

It also has the potential to be a major player in US online gambling, however, thanks in large part to its name. The original Golden Nugget Casino opened its doors in 1946, and the brand is almost synonymous with “old Vegas” in the public imagination.

Those associations may be a double-edged sword, but Golden Nugget is working to give its online division some independence.

The company’s iGaming division is in the process of going public by way of a special purpose acquisitions company, Landcadia II. Once the deal is complete, Golden Nugget Online Gambling (GNOG) will be listed on the NASDAQ exchange with an estimated initial valuation of $745 million.

In presenting the deal to investors, GNOG said that it intends to focus on the highest-valued segment of customers. Its online casino customers produce more revenue per active month than their land-based counterparts and seven times as much as an online sports bettor.

GNOG claims its average customer is worth around $7,700 over the course of five years, citing DraftKings’ self-estimated $2,400 as a point of comparison.

Bucking the Michigan sports trend

Although there’s still plenty of doubt about the launch timeline for online sports betting in Michigan, GNOG says it’s aiming for an early-2021 start.

Most of the other confirmed competitors in the state have focused on sports first and foremost. Even The Stars Group, best known for its poker product, has spoken more about its Fox Bet Sportsbook when discussing its partnership with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians.

Golden Nugget Michigan has made it clear that it will take the opposite tack.

Golden Nugget owner Tilman Fertitta told investors in a pre-recorded message that the company is fully committed to the iGaming business: “That’s where the money is, that’s where the customer is more valuable and that’s where the big money is going to be made going forward.”

- Alex is a journalist from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. Now site runner for Online Poker Report, he has been writing about poker and the online gambling industry in various capacities since 2014.
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