Barstool and founder Dave Portnoy could be getting even more involved in sports gambling
Legal Sports Report

Barstool Sports May Be Sold To Casino Company Penn National

Barstool Sports Penn National

Publicly traded casino company Penn National Gaming is looking to acquire Barstool Sports, according to a report first made at Vox. Legal Sports Report sources are aware of discussions between the two companies.

Penn National owns and operates casinos across the US, and is looking to become a more prominent player in the expanding US sports betting industry.

Barstool, the sometimes-controversial sports and culture media company, and Barstool’s parent company, Chernin Group, had been exploring a possible sale.

LSR cannot confirm the exact numbers being discussed in the potential transaction. However, the deal would likely value the company at much more than the $100 million valuation it received over a year ago.

Penn National’s plan for sports betting

PNG owns and/or operates dozens of casinos around the country, including the Tropicana in Las Vegas and the Greektown Casino-Hotel in Detroit.

Penn National’s desire to gain a stronger foothold in the sports betting market has been on display in myriad ways:

  • Penn National has stated in recent months that it wants to have a media partner to help improve its standing in sports betting. Barstool obviously would check that box.
  • It is working with the European company Kambi to power its branded sportsbook. It’s not immediately clear if this would carry over to the Barstool-branded sportsbook, but that would undoubtedly make sense.
  • Penn has used its standing as a licensee in many states around the US to provide access to other sports betting companies.

For Penn National, it potentially creates a sports betting brand more valuable than its regional casino properties under the Hollywood Casino moniker.

Penn’s exposure to legal sports betting states is about as good as any company’s. It has a presence in these states that have legalized:

  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Nevada
  • Pennsylvania

Barstool Sports and sports betting

Barstool has already fully embraced the legal sports betting industry in the US.

It worked with offshore sportsbook companies on a more limited basis prior to the fall of the federal sports betting ban in 2018. Barstool founder Dave Portnoy even famously started slamming an offshore operator, MyBookie, earlier this year.

Throughout 2019, Barstool worked to promote a variety of legal sportsbooks in New Jersey and beyond, including FanDuel, PointsBet and SugarHouse.

Beyond that, it has increasingly gotten into creating betting content as well as running free-to-play betting games on the site.

What’s next for Barstool

Becoming a brand that will be tied to an actual sportsbook would seemingly be the next iteration of the company’s strategy if it is acquired by Penn.

Its database of users in the US is overwhelmingly young and male, which is a demographic that intersects well with the nascent sports betting industry.

Sportsbook companies have seen the early success that FanDuel and DraftKings have experienced in new sports betting states; the hope for Penn would be to leverage the Barstool brand and users in a similar fashion.

For Barstool, getting even more involved in the sports betting industry, especially as an operator, would be difficult to do.

Dustin Gouker
- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.
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