Golden Nugget Commits Funding For Virginia HBCUs Ahead Of Sportsbook Launch

Posted on September 24, 2021 - Last Updated on October 13, 2021

Virginians wondering whether the state’s eventual ninth licensed sportsbook will actually go start taking bets should ponder that question no further. Golden Nugget Virginia is putting its money where its mouth is in regard to Old Dominion.

The upcoming Virginia sportsbook has promised an immediate donation of $1 million to the five HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) in VA. It also pledged a percentage of revenue in perpetuity going forward to the same ends.

It’s a definitive signal that the company is serious about VA.

Golden Nugget Virginia partners with HBCUs

Hampton University, Norfolk State University, Virginia State University, Virginia Union University, and the Virginia University of Lynchburg will each receive $200,000 from Golden Nugget soon.

Golden Nugget has promised a further 4% of gaming revenue or at least $500,000 on an annual basis to the same group of institutions.

Building on that, the gaming company plans to set up internship programs with the universities as well. Golden Nugget has also employed the services of a minority-owned firm (Virginia Sports Technology Group) in VA to market its products in the commonwealth.

All in all, it seems the company has moved on from being passed over by the City of Richmond for a potential casino license.

Golden Nugget was one of three parties to receive sports betting permit back in March. However, it has not yet started operating in VA. Part of the reason may have been a recent acquisition by DraftKings.

Despite technically being a DraftKings subsidiary, the brand still plans to compete in VA. Exactly when that may start is still an unsettled matter, however. The same goes for what the product might look like.

Will Golden Nugget find gold in Virginia’s hills?

As far as online gambling goes, Golden Nugget’s biggest success hasn’t been in sports betting. It’s one of the most successful online casino brands in New Jersey. In fact, it was that segment of the company that drew DraftKings’ interest. It has seen great success in Michigan as well.

In the same states, however, the sportsbook has failed to gain much share. In June of this year in MI, for example, it was one of only two online sportsbooks to take in less than $1 million in handle.

It’s too early to tell how DraftKings will treat Golden Nugget in a market its primary sportsbook already operates in. To date, it seems that DraftKings intends to treat it as a completely separate product. That signals a few likelihoods.

For one thing, you probably won’t see any shared rewards programs or wallets like NJ online casino players see in the BetMGM and Borgata brands. While promotions on both apps might be similar, it seems unlikely they will be identical.

DraftKings’ most likely hope for Golden Nugget Virginia is that it will eat away some market share from its actual competitors. The more that happens, the more the HBCUs in VA stand to benefit as well.

Photo by Dreamstime / Alyson Kast
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Chicago. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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