The long-awaited and much-anticipated Barstool Sportsbook launch in Pennsylvania September 18 provided industry analysts and bettors in the US a glimpse into what the high-profile brand will bring to the US legal sports betting scene. With a record 63,000 downloads during its first weekend of operation, a reported $11 million in handle over the first weekend and $12.5 million over the second weekend, one of the only questions remaining for the hyped sportsbook is – What’s next?
Last Thursday, news broke of Barstool’s partnership deal with Greektown Casino-Detroit that would give Barstool access to one of the more intriguing new markets to welcome a sports betting platform, Michigan. With 66 million dedicated viewers as well as 8.8 million Instagram followers, almost 5 million on Facebook, and 2.5 million on Twitter nationally, there is definitely an appetite to expand, although the plan looks as though they will be carefully thought through before being executed.
Timing Is Everything
Penn National and Barstool sportsbook couldn’t have scripted a better time to launch. September’s betting menu was overflowing with MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, The US Open Golf tournament and the Kentucky Derby all running during the month. NFL season is always earmarked as a jumping-off-point for sportsbooks but this past September was like no other on record.
It is no fluke that the Barstool Sportsbook brand was off to such a strong start.
It is also no coincidence that Barstool targeted the relatively new Michigan market for their second site. Michigan seems to have worked out their legal sports betting kinks during the COVID shutdowns after soft launching just prior to the industry-wide stoppages in March. Online betting as a whole hasn’t taken off quite yet in the state, putting the Barstool app on exactly the same footing as other online books going live in Michigan.
Penn National CEO Jay Snowden hasn’t been shy about his wishes to expand Barstool drastically. At the moment, Penn National has 41 locations in 19 states that could support the Barstool brand. Snowden has said that he hopes the Barstool Sportsbook app will be live in 12 states by the end of 2021.
That said, Snowden hasn’t been as bullish on Barstool’s expansion plans for the rest of this year. He has stated that Michigan will likely be the only other state besides Pennsylvania to house the Barstool brand before the end of 2020.
In a recent investor presentation, Penn mentioned Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, Virginia and West Virginia as possible destinations for their online sportsbook brand – all of which are currently home to Penn National properties and all but Virginia have their own online sports betting platform.
So if Not Now, When?
It seems that sportsbooks always target the time around Super Bowl or March Madness for launch. That puts Barstool’s expansion plans on hold until the beginning of 2021 which is plenty of time for the US sports betting scene to further its healing and for Penn National to identify the best path forward.
Jay Snowden is on record saying, “As you get into 2021, I think you should expect for us to be in every state that’s legal, where we operate and can launch by the end of 2021. We’ll be in well over a dozen states by the end of the calendar year.”
One thing is certain – there is no shortage of opportunity for what is touted to become a legal sports betting juggernaut within the next year. The Barstool Sportsbook should be able to elevate itself into the elite class with Penn National’s backing but it appears that the brand will be smart and take their time to achieve that goal.