Golden Nugget Online Gaming Founder Leaves Following PA Casino Launch

Written By Hill Kerby on October 6, 2023
Golden Nugget Online Gaming logo for story on Thomas Winter stepping down months after successful PA online casino launch

It’s time for Golden Nugget Online Gaming founder Thomas Winter to enter a new phase of his life.

The former president of GNOG and General Manager of North America iGaming at DraftKings announced on LinkedIn that he had left the company to focus on new endeavors and enjoy life away from the demanding industry he helped define.

His statement read:

“10 years after founding Golden Nugget Online Gaming, 3 years after taking it public and 2 years after its acquisition by the almighty DraftKings Inc., time has come for me to close this extraordinary chapter of my life and open a new one, this time focused on the latter part of work-life balance.”

Winter leaves his legacy in good hands

Winter’s resume at GNOG was impressive, per his exit address. It included a linear path of:

  • Taking GNOG from dead last to first in New Jersey online casinos
  • Opening the first live dealer studio in the US
  • Being voted Casino Operator of the Year four years in a row
  • Spinning off GNOG and taking it public
  • Merging with DraftKings in May 2022

His road ultimately led to GNOG merging with DraftKings due to the mutual belief in a multi-brand strategy. The two brands have since become the top online casino operator in the US.

A leader in online sports betting and iGaming, DraftKings will continue to expand both brands and grow its market share. DraftKings announced it had a 27% market share for online casinos nationwide, surpassing BetMGM with the intent never to look back.

As the largest iGaming market in the US, Pennsylvania proves to be a significant part of the picture moving forward, too. DraftKings Casino PA holds the top spot among gross gaming revenue (GGR) producers in the state, and it earned that accomplishment with one online casino brand.

Now, the team that built DraftKings can do the same with Golden Nugget Casino PA after launching that brand in August.

Golden Nugget receives a different path to licensure

Golden Nugget Casino PA joined the ranks of Pennsylvania online casinos on Aug. 21, becoming the second brand under the DraftKings umbrella. It was the 20th operator to open in Pennsylvania under its own license as a Qualified Gaming Entity (QGE).

Pennsylvania now has 11 online casino licensees, nine of which have traditional iGaming licenses connected to in-state retail locations. Golden Nugget and Bally’s, which operates Bally Casino PA and hopes to open a mini-casino near State College, got the first two QGE licenses from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) earlier this year.

QGE licenses allow out-of-state online casino operators to gain licensure without forging partnerships with Pennsylvania retail casinos. Golden Nugget brings an established and esteemed brand to the Keystone State as a household name in neighboring New Jersey, known for its Atlantic City resort and as one of its top three iGaming licensees.

Golden Nugget PA strong out of the gate

Golden Nugget’s Pennsylvania launch was successful, generating nearly $1.7 million in August revenue in its first 11 days of operation.

Of course, that wasn’t enough to overcome any of the other 10 operators in the state’s monthlong totals. It fell shy of Mohegan Pennsylvania ($1.9 million), Wind Creek ($2.4 million) and Bally’s ($2.6 million) but projects ahead of all three if it produces similar numbers when September’s numbers come out.

Given DraftKings plans to grow the brand, it will also look to surpass the next four licensees in the pecking order: Live! Philadelphia ($3.6 million), Mount Airy ($5.3 million), Parx ($6.3 million) and Harrah’s Philadelphia ($6.4 million).

While all these licensees stand within reach, the top three will remain atop the podium for the foreseeable future. Each has multiple operators and reported above $30 million in GGR in August.

Photo by Golden Nugget
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Hill Kerby

Hill Kerby comes from a background of poker, sports and psychology. He brings all of that expertise into his writing, where he contributes content in the growing legalized sports betting, online casino and gambling industry.

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