- Interactive bets with their known personalities.
- Very flexible parlay options with a large offering of bet types and multi-sport parlays.
- Quality deposit/withdrawal options.
- Below-average odds.
- Will quickly limit bettors on a hot streak.
- Most ongoing promos are low-ceiling plays.
- The entire concept is more fun-over-function.
- Issues with live betting functionality and cashouts are more common than the industry average.
- Controversial business personalities create a love or hate following.
Barstool Sportsbook’s controversial practices have made them one of the most polarizing companies in sports media. In addition, their fun-over-function business model offers little profitability for bettors who quickly find themselves limited after a hot streak.
New User Bonus
You usually see either a risk-free bet offer or a deposit match from sportsbooks for new users. Barstool Sportsbook has an average sign-up bonus offering a $1,000 risk-free bet for new users. They try and word it differently calling it a “2 for 1” but it’s a standard welcome bonus.
With the risk-free bet, you only get money back if your first bet loses, and they match your first bet up to $1,000. While that’s commendable insurance, it rewards you with nothing if your first bet hits. For that reason, deposit matches are generally slightly more appealing.
The problem with deposit matches from other sportsbooks is that they usually only match a percent of your first deposit (usually around 20%) up to an amount, making it necessary to drop about $5,000 in a first deposit to get a maximum bonus. So, sign-up perks are minimal all-around in the industry. Sportsbooks simply don’t hand out free money often as their promotions imply.
Ongoing Promos and Contests
This is an area where Barstool’s experience as a sports media company really shines through. They have one of the most voluminous offerings of ongoing promos and contests in the industry. These are driven in part by their media personalities such as founder Dave Portnoy, Dan “Big Cat” Katz, and more.
Their first 30 days of operating in Illinois experienced high engagement, with 54% of customers wagering on Barstool-exclusive bets. Barstool’s fun over function model has proved profitable for them as they credit casual bettors and creative marketing for the bulk of their success. As stated in Penn National’s 2021 Q1 earnings report, “Our ability to deliver unique and engaging content through Barstool Sports sets us apart from our peers. Barstool’s social media reach, creative promotions, custom parlays, and exclusive bets have been key drivers of customer acquisition for the online sportsbook and have led to enhanced engagement and retention, particularly among more casual bettors.”
The problem with Barstool’s promos is that they’re typically very low-value plays limited with maximum bets of between $25-$50. In addition, they’re one of the quickest sportsbooks on the market to limit players who get hot and make it so that you can’t even participate in some promos.
Barstool’s Tailgate Tour hosts in-person events. Event tickets will include entry, food, bar service, custom TV setups for the ultimate watch party experience, seating & tents, music and much more. This is another way for Barstool to engage with their loyal community.
Thanks to their partnership with Penn National Gaming, Barstool Sportsbook features the mychoice loyalty rewards program. Like some of the other loyalty programs featured at sportsbooks like Caesars, this is a tiered program that requires huge amounts of money spent to become appealing.
For the mychoice rewards program, you earn loyalty points based on the bet types you place. Every $10 wagered in straight bets = 1 Tier Point. Every $10 wagered on Barstool Exclusive Bets: = 1 Tier Point. Every $5 wagered on parlay bets = 1 Tier Point.
There are five levels of benefit rewards. Lowest level rewards get discounts on mychoice partners like Barstool merch or 10% on Norwegian Cruise Line and access to entertainment presales. Top-level rewards get significant perks such as guaranteed complimentary hotel rooms, annual $500 travel reimbursement, VIP seating for entertainment and more.
In What States is Barstool Sportsbook Available?
Barstool Sportsbook has seen rapid expansion and quickly positioned itself as one of the most popular sportsbooks in the country. Currently, you may place sports bets while in the states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Colorado, Virginia, New Jersey, Tennessee, Arizona, Iowa, or Indiana. In addition, you may also play casino games while inside the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or Michigan.
Sports Covered at Barstool Sportsbook
Barstool Sportsbook features odds for a wide range of sports. Their A-Z list consists of American Football, Atheltics (Track & Field), Australian Rules Football, Badminton, Baseball, Basketball, Beach Volleyball, Boxing, Cricket, Curling, Cycling (Track & Road), Cyclo Cross, Golf, Handball, Ice Hockey, Motor Sports, Netball, Olympic and Championship Events, Pesapallo (Finnish baseball), Rugby League, Rugby Union, Soccer, Speedway, Squash, Surfing, Swimming, Tennis and Racket Sports, Volleyball, and Winter Sports.
Quality of Odds at Barstool Sportsbook
You won’t find the best odds in the industry at Barstool Sportsbook. Their action is driven by their loyal swarm of stoolies that are complacent pumping low-value featured bets backed by heavy marketing tactics. Penn National has often credited a bulk of Barstool’s success to the fact that around 50% of the bets placed at Barstool are on their featured promos. Their new Parlay+ (same game parlay) and multi-sport parlays can be fun but come packed with high-risk bets and mediocre odds.
Online and Mobile Betting Experience
The Barstool Sportsbook app is user-friendly with interactive features such as a “Move the Line” scroller, which lets you buy and sell points using a scrolling option at your fingertips. Their app also features the personalization of favorite teams or leagues, making regular betting convenient without constant navigation. Some users have frequently reported issues with live betting glitches on the mobile format.
The web browser platform is easy to navigate, much like the mobile app. The betting stats and trends are well organized and valuable. There is heavy use of brand personalities, but it is less annoying and intrusive than some competitors like FOX.
Barstool Sportsbook offers a wide array of sports to bet on live but does not offer live streaming. You are stuck looking at digital visualizations and play-by-play notes. The live betting feature at Barstool has been known to lag for some users. This can partly be blamed on poor internet from the user on a case-by-case basis. Something to consider when you’re wagering on live sports. The odds at Barstool have also been known to change in favor of the sportsbook while your bet is processing. These are relatively common problems users deal with at all major sportsbooks that offer live betting.
Other Gaming Options at Barstool Sportsbook
Barstool Sportsbook offers casino games within the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Michigan. They also launched their first in-house developed, Barstool-branded digital iCasino game in New Jersey, ’Barstool Blackjack,’ in late 2021. Penn National has mentioned that the iCasino offerings should see more robust expansion for Barstool soon. With their plans to launch Barstool-branded sports bars, we could see some integration in these locations.
Barstool Sportsbook doesn’t currently have a racebook for betting on horse racing like competitors FanDuel and BetMGM, but that could also come down the pipe shortly. Penn National operates the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, which features Barstool Sportsbook on-site. Penn also operates at a handful of other racetracks and off track wagering at Sanford Orlando in Florida which features racing of both horses and dogs.
Barstool Sportsbook History
Barstool Sports is a digital media company founded by David Portnoy in 2003. The company’s two primary investors are Penn National Gaming and The Chernin Group. Barstool Sportsbook is driven by iSport Genius, the same data supplier used by operators such as Bet365, Flutter (FanDuel), DraftKings and 888 Sport.
Barstool Sportsbook launched in Pennsylvania on September 18, 2020. It handled $11 million in wagers during its first week of operation. After about seven months of operation, Penn National reported Barstool Sportsbook had registered more than 400,000 customers and generated over $660 million and $61 million in handle and gaming revenue, respectively, creating a 9.2% hold. That put them above the average 7.2% hold across all states since PASPA’s repeal and well above industry juggernauts DraftKings (6.3%) and FanDuel (7.5%).
In their first 30 days of operating in Illinois, Barstool registered over 54,700 new customers and generated total handle and gaming revenue of $67.7 million and $6.5 million, respectively.
Barstool’s sports, entertainment and lifestyle content drives a loyal base of 21 to 40-year old customers to their sportsbook. Their mychoice rewards mobile app has had over 333,000 downloads with approximately 115,000 monthly active users and growing.
Penn National and Barstool have aggressive plans for expansion. Barstool is launching standalone branded sports bars, with the first two coming in Philadelphia and Chicago. Penn also acquired Canadian-based sports media brand theScore in October 2021. They plan to integrate Barstool Sportsbook with theScore’s best-in-class sports media app and betting technology, providing them with a highly customizable and fully integrated technology solution.
Barstool continues to pursue opportunities to unlock new channels for future growth. For example, Barstool recently announced its intent to support collegiate athletes in pursuing NIL (name, image, and likeness) sponsorship arrangements. In just a few months, Barstool signed 135,000 collegiate athletes to serve as Barstool Athletes.
Controversy and Reputation
The sportsbook itself from Barstool has an average reputation, but the Barstool Sports brand is another story. It packs a lot of attitude and controversy for the average individual not familiar with the brand’s styling. This creates an uneasy feeling considering you’re trusting your money and personal information with the brand.
Portnoy has described the site’s topics as “sports/smut.” Their controversial practices have made them one of the most polarizing companies in sports media. This styling has created a cult following of “Stoolies” but has also done plenty to steer away an equal amount of the general public.
In August 2011, the site received criticism over comments of nude photos of Tom Brady’s two-year-old son, which a former prosecutor suggested was sexualization of a minor.
They’ve also received plenty of criticism regarding their promotion of blackout parties and comments Portnoy himself have made making light of rape. “[E]ven though I never condone rape, if you’re a size six and you’re wearing skinny jeans, you kind of deserve to be raped, right?” Portnoy said in a blog post.
They received heat for using a child to advertise a bet on its Instagram feed in 2020, and a “questionable” TikTok video about gambling losses posted in March 2021 cost Penn National a $10,000 settlement in Indiana. The Indiana Gaming Commission said the footage in question breached its marketing regulations for “false and misleading advertising.”
In November 2021, Business Insider released an article critically slamming Portnoy, accusing him of sexual misconduct based on encounters with college-aged women. The report cited anonymous sources, and two of the women accused Portnoy of choking and hurting them during sex. Portnoy vehemently defended himself against the article, calling it a “hit piece” that was in the works for eight months. There are a lot of suspicious factors revolving around this article, such as Business Insider releasing it behind a paywall immediately after Penn National released a disappointing 2021 Q3 earnings report. Between the unfavorable earnings report and the timing of the Business Insider article coming out, Penn National stock prices fell more than 20%, dropping its valuation more than $2 billion in market cap.
The company hasn’t been entirely malicious, as they have done a fair share of charitable work. The site raised $240,000 for the victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing. They motivated podcast listeners to raise over $50,000 for the J.J. Watt Foundation. They partnered with NFL quarterback Baker Mayfield in 2018 to release a clothing line benefiting Special Olympics Ohio.
They also launched The Barstool Fund, a fundraising non-profit that provides financial support to small business owners across the United States affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 200,000 people have contributed to the fund, and over $41 million has been raised with help from celebrity contributors such as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Elon Musk, and Guy Fieri.
When Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana in August 2021, the Penn National Gaming Foundation established the ‘Hurricane Ida Emergency Relief Fund’ for team members to apply for financial assistance for immediate needs. Their sister properties also helped to provide temporary housing and much-needed provisions.