ew Jersey State lawmakers are considering lifting the ban on owners of sports teams from accepting legal wagers at permitted sports betting facilities, which would allow the Golden Nugget Atlantic City casino to begin taking action on professional basketball.
Assembly Bill 5463, introduced Monday, would permit an owner to place or accept wagers on an event in which other member teams participate but the owner's team does not. Golden Nugget Atlantic City is owned by billionaire Tilman Fertitta, who also owns the NBA's Houston Rockets.
“New Jersey’s sports wagering industry is new and fledgling, but if we take the handcuffs off, it could surpass Nevada as the largest market in the country within a few years,” said Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, a northern New Jersey Democrat who co-sponsored the bill, the Associated Press reports. “I don’t see the point of leaving out a potential significant participant in this new industry if sufficient regulation and integrity protections are in place. Nevada has long allowed this same arrangement.”
As a result of language in the New Jersey sports betting legislation signed into law last year, Golden Nugget is prohibited from accepting legal wagers on any NBA game because of Fertitta's stake in the Rockets.
But casino officials in the past have complained that the law puts them at a significant disadvantage in New Jersey’s burgeoning sports betting market because customers are typically not willing to visit two different casinos to place their sports bets.
The new bill would allow Golden Nugget and its online partner, BetAmerica, to take sports wagers on any NBA game that does not include the Rockets.
The Assembly Appropriations Committee held a hearing on the legislation Tuesday. A companion bill has been introduced in the Senate and referred to the State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee.
In Nevada, Fertitta's Golden Nugget casino is prohibited from accepting bets on games that involve the Rockets.
Since it took its first sports bets in June 2018, New Jersey’s casinos and horse racing tracks have taken in close to $3 billion, second only to the $5.2 billion Nevada’s sports books handled over roughly the same period.