Thomas Winter, Founder of GNOG, Departs from DraftKings

Posted on: October 3, 2023, 01:03h. 

Last updated on: October 3, 2023, 01:03h.

Thomas Winter, founder of Golden Nugget Online Gaming (GNOG), is leaving the gaming operator 18 months after its acquisition by DraftKings (NASDAQ: DKNG).

Thomas Winter
Golden Nugget Online Gaming founder Thomas Winter. He announced his departure from DraftKings. (Image: Sigma)

Winter established GNOG a decade ago, transforming it from a minor player in New Jersey’s gaming industry to a dominant figure in the online gaming market. DraftKings eventually acquired GNOG, making it a publicly traded powerhouse in the industry.

After 10 years with Golden Nugget Online Gaming, 3 years as a public company, and 2 years under the ownership of DraftKings, it is time for me to move on and focus on achieving work-life balance,” Winter wrote in a LinkedIn post.

GNOG went public on the Nasdaq in December 2020 through a merger with Landcadia Holdings II, Inc., and has since become one of the leading iGaming operators in New Jersey, as well as having market access in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Winter praised Tilman Fertitta, the owner of Landcadia Holdings II, Inc., calling him “the shrewdest and most impressive businessman I’ve ever met.”

GNOG’s Success with DraftKings

GNOG’s stint as a public company was short-lived. Just eight months after going public, DraftKings acquired the company for $1.56 billion. This move has proven to be a smart one, as DraftKings now holds a significant portion of the US iGaming market share. Industry experts predict that the North American internet casino and online sports wagering market could reach a value of $42 billion by 2030.

Analysts believe DraftKings’ acquisition of GNOG was a strategic move, recognizing the potential of a multi-brand approach in the industry. Winter applauded DraftKings for understanding this and selecting GNOG as the right addition to their portfolio.

Prior to founding Golden Nugget Online, Winter held executive positions at Betclic and Expekt, two prominent European egaming entities.

Winter’s Departure a Loss

Some industry observers regard Winter’s departure as a significant loss for DraftKings, suggesting that his presence played a key role in the success of their online casino operations. Gaming entrepreneur and investor Chris Grove commented, “Thomas and his team brought tremendous potential to DraftKings’ online casino operations, creating a whole greater than the sum of its parts.”

However, despite Winter’s departure, optimism remains high for the iGaming industry as a whole. Analysts and operators are excited about the prospects of internet casinos, with the potential for further state-level legalization and higher profit margins compared to sports betting.

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