And That Makes 9: Golden Nugget Debuts As Newest Virginia Sportsbook

Posted on October 13, 2021

We knew it was coming, and now it’s official: Golden Nugget Sportsbook in Virginia is live and taking bets.

Officials on Wednesday, Oct. 13, announced the online sports betting app‘s long-awaited debut in Old Dominion.

GN is now the ninth Virginia sportsbook. It’s also the first one to debut since Barstool Sportsbook began accepting wagers on Aug. 10.

However, Golden Nugget’s VA debut was anything but a surprise.

Golden Nugget debut long time coming

Virginia saw four sportsbooks, including first-to-market FanDuel, launch in January when Virginia sports betting first went live.

Four additional sportsbooks eventually began accepting wagers before Golden Nugget joined the mix on Wednesday.

However, the Virginia Lottery actually issued permits to the company and two other books, including Barstool, way back on March 15. The other one that received a permit that day, Bally’s, is now the only Virginia sportsbook with a permit but without a launch in the commonwealth.

SportsbookPermit approval dateLaunch date
FanDuel1/20/20211/21/2021
DraftKings1/24/20211/24/2021
BetMGM1/24/20211/27/2021
BetRivers1/26/20211/27/2021
Caesars (formerly William Hill)1/27/20212/2/2021
WynnBET3/4/20213/11/2021
Unibet4/21/20214/28/2021
Barstool3/15/20218/10/2021
Golden Nugget3/15/202110/13/2021
Bally's3/15/2021TBA

Despite the delay, GN made its VA intentions known, especially recently. As we reported last month, the company is donating $1 million to Virginia’s five HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), as well as a percentage of future revenue of at least $500,000 per year in perpetuity.

GN and online casino success

So, why did it take Golden Nugget so long to debut in Virginia?

One possible reason is DraftKings’ recent acquisition of Golden Nugget Online Gaming (GNOG).

There were some questions following the $1.6 billion deal. Namely? Would Golden Nugget continue to operate as an independent brand?

That appears to be the case. Despite its sports-betting offerings, Golden Nugget is perhaps better known as a destination for online casino players, specifically in New Jersey and Michigan. DraftKings, meanwhile, has sometimes struggled with that aspect of its business.

Virginia law doesn’t allow for online casinos. So, for now, the company’s focus will be on its sports betting products in VA.

Additionally, as part of the DraftKings deal, Golden Nugget has spun off its online division. DraftKings acquired GNOG, and Golden Nugget’s brick-and-mortar casinos have inked a sportsbook deal of its own with DK.

Prior to the deal with DraftKings, GN had actually been vying for the Richmond casino project. Ultimately, though, officials went with a proposal from Urban One and the Colonial Downs Group.

Photo by Dreamsite / Renzzo
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Dann Stupp

Dann Stupp is a longtime sports journalist who’s written and edited for The Athletic, USA Today, ESPN and other outlets. He lives in Lexington, Virginia.

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