Analysis

Can Barstool Sportsbook reign supreme?

One brand that has captured the imagination of punters this year is Barstool Sportsbook – and its early success could be a sign of future dominance.

Call it the Portnoy effect. Many sports betting brands have attempted to capture the imagination – and share of wallet – in various states this year. 

But it is the launch of Barstool Sportsbook, helmed by excitable founder Dave Portnoy, which has arguably laid down the best marker for next year.

In its first full month of operations in Pennsylvania in October, Barstool Sportsbook grabbed 12% market share by handle. 

Its handle of $63.8m put it in fourth place behind DraftKings, FanDuel and Rush Street Interactive.

Now some of that might be due to an onrush of initial enthusiasm on the part of the Pennsylvania cohort of ‘Stoolies.

But if there is anything worrying the sports betting market leaders as well as the other operators jockeying for position below them, it is that this might just be the start.

New app, new audience

Barstool Sportsbook has a top weighting on the Wedge Index of gaming friendliness. It means that in any given state it enters it adds four points to the state tally.

As it stands, Barstool Sportsbook is only up-and-running in Pennsylvania and Colorado, though the latter is at present only retail.

But Barstool Sportsbook co-owner Penn National has clear plans for a wider rollout. 

During the company’s third-quarter recent earnings call CEO Jay Snowden said Barstool Sportsbook would be rolled out across every state where Penn was licensed by the end of 2021.

The figures given by Penn for Barstool’s performance underline just what an advantage it is to have a genuine social media presence.

It saw 30,000 new depositing customers in the first 37 days of operation. It also got 300,000 downloads of the app, of which 60,000 were in Pennsylvania.

All that, and no expensive advertising and marketing to speak of apart from offering free-bet bonuses.

Stand-out acquisition

It’s possible that when we look back at the early years of regulated sports betting, the acquisition of Barstool by Penn National will be seen as one of the bargains of the century.

The deal for a 36% stake in the media company for $163m valued Barstool Sports at $450m.

As part of the deal, Penn gained the rights to the sportsbook brand for 40 years. It can up its stake in the parent to 50% in three years’ time. 

It then has an option to buy the rest outright at some point in the future.

Matching the social media nous of Portnoy and the Barstool team with Penn’s gaming footprint across the country has the makings of a powerful combo. 

It makes the sportsbook perhaps the one to watch in 2021.

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Scott Longley

Scott Longley has been a journalist since the early noughties covering personal finance, sport and the gambling industry. He has worked for a number of publications including Investor's Week, Bloomberg Money, Football First, EGR and GamblingCompliance.com. He now writes for online and print titles across a wide range of sectors.

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