After making a name change to Penn Entertainment earlier this month, the company is taking full control of one of its main sports betting brands.
Last week, Penn Entertainment disclosed in an SEC filing that it was exercising its call rights to take 100% ownership of Barstool Sports. Penn acquired an original 36% share of Barstool for $163 million in 2020 and recently spent an additional $62 million investment for 50% ownership.
Penn plans to purchase the rest of the shares by February 2023 and will have paid approximately $550 million for Barstool Sports. The Q2 Penn investor presentation this month said the deal will fully unlock Barstool’s value.
Penn sports betting entertainment empire
The company’s initial investment in Barstool was to help cut down on marketing costs on a branded Barstool Sportsbook. Barstool has a built-in fanbase that consumes a massive amount of content and consumer product lines.
With personalities like founder Dave Portnoy and Big Cat, a host of “Pardon My Take,” one of the top sports podcasts in the US, Penn felt it could largely forgo aggressive marketing spend. As other operators spend relatively lavishly for customer acquisition, Barstool aims for organic reach to its core demographic.
While the sportsbook has not attained a large market share – approximately 6% in states that report by operator – Penn did report its interactive business should be profitable in the fourth quarter. Portnoy told Fox Business last week that most of his net worth is Penn investments and he remains bullish about its position in the sports betting industry.
“If you look at the Penn stock, it trades with the rest of the gambling stocks almost lockstep for the past year, year and a half. We don’t operate like those guys,” Portnoy said. “Those guys are spending billions of dollars on advertising and literally burning money and losing hundreds of millions of dollars. And we trade exactly like them. There’s no actual differentiation.”
Penn stock fluctuating
Penn stock hit a 52-week high of $86.40 in September 2021. It was more than $115 in early 2021.
The stock dipped to a 52-week low of $26.40 in June and has settled at approximately $33 this week.
Barstool not the first content acquisition
Last year, Penn acquired Canada-based sports media company theScore for $2 billion. At the time, Penn noted potential “volumetric savings” by combining the complimentary aspects of theScore and Barstool.
Along with one of the most popular sports apps in North America, Penn also took over theScore Bet and its in-house trading platform. The company plans to have the Barstool Sportsbook app on the tech stack by Q3 2023.
In July, Penn shut down theScore Bet in the US, choosing to focus it on Ontario sports betting while using Barstool for US sports betting.
Barstool strong retail sports betting presence
Penn reported its 24 Barstool retail sportsbooks in 10 US states took $179.3 million in bets during Q2. The sportsbooks maintained a 19% H1 retail market share, excluding Nevada, according to an investor presentation.
In Michigan sports betting, for example, the Barstool Sportsbook at Greektown Casino controlled 51% of the July retail handle collected by the three commercial casinos in Detroit.
“Our Barstool branded retail sportsbooks resonate with the younger demographics and create meaningful cross-sell opportunities,” Penn CEO Jay Snowden said in the company’s second-quarter earnings call. “Barstool Sports, Inc. has further expanded its reach across social media platforms by delivering highly engaging and relevant content.”
Penn and Portnoy
With the investment into Barstool Sports came the connection to Portnoy. The Barstool founder is a polarizing figure with a massive amount of influence on his fans.
Following alleged sexual misconduct claims earlier this year that Portnoy denied, Snowden told investors during a February earnings call to be patient. How the full Penn ownership affects Portnoy’s involvement is not yet fully known.
“First thing I gotta do, is I got to make sure I get the hell out of New York, right? And get down to Florida and establish some residency so the government can’t steal all my money,” Portnoy told Fox Business. “This weekend, I’m going to Saratoga with some buddies. I’m going to bet on the horses. So I’m just going to live the same lifestyle that I’ve always done, except maybe more extravagantly.”
Sports betting operators compete for content
While Penn goes all in on content, other sportsbook operators also are making strong pushes in the content realm:
- In the past, DraftKings purchased VSiN.
- Bally’s acquired the naming rights for Sinclair Broadcasting’s regional sports networks.
- Earlier this summer, LSR explored FanDuel’s plans for branded networks.
- Recently, The Walt Disney Company further committed to going deeper into sports betting with ESPN.