Saturday August 31,2013 : Could the Golden Nugget be another internet company target?
The battling Golden Nugget land casino in Atlantic City could be the answer to a deep-pockets online gambling company looking for entry into the newly legalised online gambling market in New Jersey, the Press of Atlantic City reported over the weekend.
The operation of legalised online gambling in New Jersey revolves around partnerships with Atlantic City land casinos, which will be the sole licence holders when operations kick off at the end of November this year. All save two – Atlantic Club and Revel -have already announced partnership deals.
However, the Golden Nugget, owned by the Texas-based Landrys group could be ready to entertain acquisition offers following a run of poor results, and the Press of Atlantic City reports that general manager Tom Pohlman is prepared to listen to proposals, the most immediate approach being from investment bank Houlihan Lokey, acting for unidentified parties interested in acquiring Golden Nugget "….or its Internet gambling rights."
Where that will leave the partnership between Golden Nugget and Bally Technologies on their free-play online poker site, GoldenNuggetPoker.com is not certain, although one analyst opined that the internet gambling rights alone would be worth somewhere between $50 and $100 million.
In the past, Golden Nugget has said it will offer branded Internet gambling, using Bally technology.
There is also the presence of the British online gambling firm 2UP Gaming, which claims it has $330 million in hand from Asian investors and is close to clinching an acquisition deal with an as yet unidentified Atlantic City land casino somewhere on the Boardwalk
Having spent $200 million on extensive refurbishments to the Golden Nugget property, Landrys revealed the Houlihan Lokey approach Friday, commenting:
“In light of our $200 million investment in this gaming asset and less than stellar results in the Atlantic City market, Landry’s indicated to Houlihan Lokey that it would listen to any proposal. However, absolutely no decision has been made to sell the property or Internet gaming rights.
“Unlike the majority of the Atlantic City casinos, Landry’s has no outstanding debt on the casino and remains committed to the Atlantic City marketplace and Internet gaming.”
The "less than stellar results" referred to by Landrys includes an $11.4 million operating loss in 2012, and an $8.6 million lag so far this year.