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Casino Owner To Buy NBA's Houston Rockets For Record Sum

Tilman Fertitta To Acquire Team For $2.2 Billion


The Houston Rockets franchise announced Tuesday that it will soon have a new owner.

The team said that it reached a deal to sell to Houston businessman Tilman Fertitta, sole owner of the Landry’s restaurant empire and the Golden Nugget Casinos and Hotels. Tilman is a cousin of Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta, the Las Vegas casino owners who sold the UFC last year.

The transaction for the Rockets, which includes operation of the Toyota Center Arena, requires the approval of the NBA Board of Governors. Terms of the sale were not disclosed. The Rockets did say that Fertitta has “no other partners in connection with the transaction.”

According to reports, the deal was worth $2.2 billion, a record for an NBA franchise. He reportedly tried to buy the team in 1993 for just $81 million.

“I am truly honored to have been chosen as the next owner of the Houston Rockets," Fertitta said in a statement. “This is a life-long dream come true. Leslie Alexander has been one of the best owners in all of sports, and I thank him immensely for this opportunity. He has the heart of a champion.”

The sale comes at a pivotal moment for sports in America. The U.S. Supreme Court will soon consider a repeal of a 1992 law known as PASPA that bans traditional sports betting outside of a few states. Nevada is the only state with sports books.

The black market for sports betting is estimated at $150 billion annually, so the leagues are looking to tap into some of that gambling activity, under strict regulation. Former Major League Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent believes sports betting is precisely the reason why franchise values across the major sports leagues have skyrocketed in recent years.

According to Forbes, the average value of an NBA franchise is $1.36 billion, three and a half times more than five years ago.