Barstool Sportsbook App Seems Off To Strong Start — Will It Hold Up?

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Early betting figures from Penn National Gaming’s new Barstool Sportsbook app show its potential for claiming sizable online market share in a state dominated by FanDuel and DraftKings.

In an SEC filing Thursday accompanying Penn National’s new offering of 14 million shares of common stock, the company reported an $11 million digital handle for its Barstool Sportsbook in the four days from its official public launch on Friday through Monday.

Penn National said the betting total came as a result of 30,000 downloads by bettors in Pennsylvania over those four days. Its filing stated that an additional 5,000 downloads took place during a three-day, invitation-only test period last week.

The company also said 180,000 downloads have taken place overall across the U.S. for the app. Individuals outside of Pennsylvania may download Barstool Sportsbook and register accounts, but only those within the state’s boundaries can place bets.

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For those creating accounts, Penn National said there were some 12,000 first-time depositors, who on average deposited $243.

App already surpasses monthly totals of three rivals

Penn National officials declined to elaborate on the information contained in the SEC filing. It can be risky to make pronouncements based on just the details offered, but it seems clear the much-hyped new sportsbook will be a serious player after becoming the 10th online site in Pennsylvania.

Just for some size context for that $11 million betting handle over four days, it was more than the volume of action taken over the entire month of August by three of the sites: Unibet ($4.8 million), Caesars ($1.1 million), and BetAmerica ($0.6 million).

But Penn National doesn’t have those competitors in mind with its extensive investment — including the $163 million spent earlier this year for a share of Barstool Sports — in developing a site it rolled out initially in Pennsylvania, with plans to take it to many legal states by early 2021.

The company wants to be on a par with FanDuel, which took in $144.2 million in August Pennsylvania handle — or 45% of the online market — and DraftKings, which had $86.9 million in handle, for 27% of all digital betting. No public information is available on how many users have accounts with the sites, to compare to the new Barstool sign-ups.

Site’s debut came at a favorable time

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board only releases official revenue reports on a monthly basis, and the first release that will take note of Barstool’s arrival won’t come out until mid-October. That will include the app’s handle and revenue during the second half of September, for comparison to full months by FanDuel, DraftKings, and the rest.

The $11 million in handle upon launch is hard to make any firm, long-term judgments about, as the site had a much-hyped debut on one of the busiest sports betting weekends in history, due to the overlap of the NFL, NCAA football, NBA and NHL playoffs, the MLB regular season, and U.S. Open golf tournament.

Additionally, much of a site’s initial handle includes the huge promotional credits given away to entice new customers. In Barstool Sportsbook’s case, that includes a risk-free first bet matching an initial deposit of up to $500, and a $10 free bet offered to all who register accounts.

So there are reasons the app may be challenged to match that $11 million online handle on a weekly basis. Then again, it could be a start that keeps building, based upon the strong multi-channel and social media presence of Barstool Sports that Penn National is counting on to attract most of its customers.

The answer as to which outcome is true is certain to be monitored closely by those across the sports betting industry in the months ahead.

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Gary Rotstein

Gary is a longtime journalist, having spent three decades covering gambling, state government, and other issues for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, in addition to stints as managing editor of the Bedford (Pa.) Gazette and as a reporter for United Press International and the Middletown (Conn.) Press. Contact Gary at gary@usbets.com.

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