First Penn National Barstool Sportsbook Opens at Colorado Casino

  • Retail sportsbook facility is on the second floor of Ameristar Casino Resort Spa in Black Hawk
  • US casino company Penn National acquired a 36% interest in Barstool in January this year
  • Operator's revenue of $1.13bn for Q3 2020, down 17% y-o-y, shows slow post-pandemic recovery
  • Colorado sports betting became legal in May after gaining approval via a statewide vote in 2019
Penn National logo on cellphone with American flag in the background
Penn National Gaming’s first retail sportsbook in partnership with Barstool Sports has launched in Black Hawk, Colorado. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

The first of many

US-based casino operator Penn National Gaming has inaugurated its first-ever Barstool retail sportsbook at Ameristar Casino Resort Spa in Black Hawk, Colorado.

Ameristar Black Hawk announced the launch on its Twitter page, posting the first-ever bet placed at the sportsbook:

Situated on the second floor of the property’s casino, the Barstool facility features sports betting kiosks and ticket writer stations. The betting area also includes a 24-by-12-foot video wall and large odds boards.

Commenting on the launch, Jay Snowden, CEO of Penn National, described the retail venue as “the first of many” to appear at their casinos across the US. He added: “Each will incorporate several features that reflect the spirit of the Barstool Sports brand, resulting in unique betting experiences that we expect our customers will thoroughly enjoy.”

A winning sports betting partnership

In an attempt to capitalize on the US’s burgeoning sports betting market, Penn National entered a partnership with sports betting company Barstool Sports in January this year. The operator acquired a 36% interest in Barstool for a total cash and stock consideration of $163m. Following the initial three-year period of the deal, the interest will increase to 50% after an additional investment of $62m by Penn National.

Under the terms of the agreement, Penn National will remain Barstool’s exclusive gaming partner for up to 40 years. The operator can use the Barstool brand for the company’s online and retail sports betting, as well as its online casino products.

launch broke records for the most downloads ever of a new mobile sportsbook

In September, Penn National officially went live with its first Barstool sportsbook app in the state of Pennsylvania after a short trial period. According to the operator, the launch broke records for the most downloads ever of a new mobile sportsbook. As of October 24, nearly 48,000 people had registered through the app in Pennsylvania, generating total handle of $78m across 30,000 first-time depositors.

Penn National’s slow COVID-19 recovery

In a statement accompanying Penn National’s Q3 results, Snowden was optimistic that the company can “close out the year with positive momentum.” However, the casino operator is still struggling to mitigate the losses it incurred when its properties closed in March amid the pandemic outbreak.

Penn National saw revenue of $1.13bn for the third quarter of 2020, a drop of 17% year-on-year. Despite this, EBITDA saw a 10% increase from 2019 levels, totaling $343.6m. For the first nine months of 2020, total revenue was $2.55bn, down 36% from last year. The company’s Northeast segment generated the highest revenue with $1.17bn, a decline of 34% year-on-year.

Many of Penn National’s properties are also still operating under capacity limitations

Penn National detailed several challenges during Q3, including the impact of Hurricane Laura on L’Auberge Lake Charles and the continued temporary closure of Zia Park in New Mexico. Many of Penn National’s properties are also still operating under capacity limitations, such as those in its Midwest segment.

Colorado sports betting

More than 1.3 million people participated in Colorado’s vote on the legalization of sports betting in November last year. The bill was passed by around 20,000 votes. The market officially launched in May this year, with the four initial sportsbooks operated by FanDuel, DraftKings, BetRivers, and ROAR Digital.

Colorado legislation means operators must partner with one of the state’s land-based casinos to open a sportsbook. An approved casino can partner with a land-based and an online operator, or maintain the same partner for both operations. The tax rate for sports betting is 10%.

Partly as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, online is the most popular form of sports betting in Colorado. Since May, the number of online sports betting operators has increased in the state. Colorado now offers 14 sports betting apps, including Betfred and William Hill.