Analysis

Penn National buys back Maryland casino for access

The deal for the Hollywood Casino Perryville for $31.1m from Gaming and Leisure Partners effectively brings back in-house a previously-owned property.

It will give Penn market access for its Barstool Sportsbook to the sports-betting opportunities in the state.

Maryland was one of three states which had sports-betting on the ballot in the November elections.

Jay Snowden, chief executive at Penn National, said the company was “excited” to be buying a property it had developed in 2010.

The acquisition sees Penn National re-enter the Maryland gaming market. It adds a twentieth gaming jurisdiction to Penn’s nationwide gaming state tally.

Barstool app-ortunity

Noting the recent vote, Snowden emphasized the sports-betting potential for Penn in Maryland.

“This acquisition provides another opportunity to expand our unique omni-channel platform with a Barstool-branded retail sportsbook and mobile app,” concluded Mr. Snowden.

The transaction is expected to close in mid-2021.

It will be subject to the approval of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission and other customary closing conditions.

All eyes will turn to the Maryland legislature as they hammer out the details of the regulations.

Some hope the market will be open before the start of the 2021 NFL season.

However, the likelihood is that the market won’t be open until the year after next.

Hail Mary

Maryland is currently T19th on the Wedge Index of gaming friendliness. Though it is hard to be precise about how far it will rise when the market launches, it is likely to at least hit the edges of the top 10.

The news was welcomed on Twitter by Barstool’s Dave Portnoy.

Barstool is only up-and-running online in Pennsylvania but Penn National has plans for further state launches next year.

During its last quarterly results Penn had hailed the success of the Barstool Sportsbook.

The Hollywood Casino Perryville was originally sold to GLP when it was set up as a real estate investment trust in 2012.

The REIT set up a lease structure for the majority of Penn’s casinos.

However, the Perryville property along with one other was sold outright as part of that deal.

Penn National has enjoyed a surging share price since it bottomed out in the March market sell-off.

Its latest boost came late last week when it rose a further 9% bringing the company’s value to over $12bn.

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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