The anticipated launch of Barstool Sportsbook formally occurs Friday as the company’s PA sports betting app is available for download.
Penn National Gaming partnered in January with Barstool Sports to serve as its primary US sports betting brand. Pennsylvania becomes the first state with the reskinned Kambi app in time for Week 2 of NFL betting.
The PA sports betting market will serve as the test run for Barstool Sportsbook. Despite buzz about Barstool’s potential driving Penn National stock soaring in recent weeks, the app likely will not debut in other legal markets before early 2021.
Barstool Sportsbook better later?
That will put Penn and Barstool a full football season behind well-funded competitors as the drive for customer acquisition heats up. Market leader FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook own roughly two-thirds of the Pennsylania market thus far.
Penn National CEO Jay Snowden addressed the delayed launch in August’s Q2 earnings call, citing a desire for the best possible experience:
“What’s more important? Rushing it and getting to some MLB and NBA games in August? Or doing this right, launching it in September when we know it will deliver a great experience, [user interface, user experience] for the end user? We’re in this for the long game.”
August, however, produced the most handle in a single month in PA sports betting history. Pennsylvania bettors put up $365 million in August as major sports returned, surpassing the previous record set in January. Nearly 90% of those wagers took place on sports betting apps in the Keystone State.
Trying to decipher Portnoy
Barstool Sportsbook sent an introductory email Friday to customers inside and outside Pennsylvania:
To keep updated on our future expansion plans you can download the Barstool Sportsbook App today regardless of where you live and hopefully we will be legal in your state very soon.
Company founder Dave Portnoy somehow managed to reference perceived “haters” and “critics” in a message focused on a product launch:
Obviously my haters of which there are many are hoping we fail.
Well I have an undying faith in the loyalty of our fans that make me believe we will do what we always do and that’s shut up the critics and astound Wall Street with our performance.
Try to square that text with Portnoy’s unending chatter about how Barstool Sportsbook accounts for Penn National’s stock resurgence:
Apparently Portnoy believes there are two distinct Barstool interest groups with little overlap: haters and stock owners.
Negative and aggressive messaging by Portnoy are only part of why Penn National continues to expose itself to potential backlash as its ownership interest in Barstool Sportsbook grows.