Barstool Sportsbook Starts Out A Distant Third In PA With Hopes Of Closing The Gap

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There was a long wait for Penn National Gaming’s Barstool Sportsbook app to arrive in Pennsylvania and much curiosity about what impact it would have in a market that already had nine online sportsbooks.

The first real answer to that arrived Friday with the release of September revenue figures by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

Of the record $462.8 million in overall betting handle for the month, $414.1 million — or 89.5% — came from online/mobile bets like the ones Barstool Sportsbook takes. Barstool, in about a half-month of operation, handled $29.9 million.

If it had operated for a full month, perhaps its betting handle would have been at least $60 million. That compares to $168 million in volume by FanDuel during September and $116.5 million by DraftKings.

The numbers show Barstool will be a major player in Pennsylvania, as it has quickly become the third most popular site for use among sports bettors in the state, but it has a long way to go to catch the industry leaders.

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It would have been a record with or without Barstool

As with other states that have reported September sports betting revenue — including New Jersey, Indiana, Iowa, and West Virginia — the unusual combination of major sports being played in the same month resulted in a record amount of legal wagers.

With the help of Penn National’s new online site, Pennsylvania’s statewide combined online and retail total of $462.8 million was up 26.8% over the prior record of $365 million set in August. Even without Barstool, the handle would have been $432.9 million, an 18.6% increase.

What’s uncertain is the extent to which Barstool snared bettors away from any of the competing sites, or if it simply added to the overall pool of wagers.

Here’s the volume handled in September by the 10 available online sites and their share of the $414.1 million online handle, compared to how the nine sites that were in operation in August performed. Keep in mind that of September’s 30 days, Barstool was only active for 16 days, and three of those days were by invitation only instead of open to the general public.

SportsbookSeptember handle Online market shareAugust handleOnline market share
FanDuel$168m40.5%$144.6m45%
DraftKings$116.5m28.1%$86.9m27%
Barstool$29.9m7.2%
BetRivers$24.1m5.8%$19m5.9%
FOX Bet$24.1m5.8%$22m6.8%
Parx$21.7m5.2%$22.2m6.9%
PlaySugarHouse$20.3m4.9%$20.3m6.3%
Unibet$7.6m1.8%$4.8m1.5%
Caesars$1.3m0.3%$1.1m0.3%
BetAmerica$0.6m0.1%$0.6m0.2%
Total$414.1m$321.6m

Barstool’s arrival coincided with No. 1 FanDuel’s percentage of statewide handle dropping 4.5 percentage points, even though in dollar terms it increased 16.2% from $144.6 million to $168 million.

Meanwhile, DraftKings’ share of the market actually grew despite the new competitor, as its dollar handle grew by more than one-third.

Barstool aims to make it a three-way race

While there are nine other sites besides Barstool in Pennsylvania, Penn National Gaming has made clear its focus is on rivaling FanDuel and DraftKings rather than the rest.

There’s already some validity to that goal, as combined online handle among the other seven sites in September was just a hair under $100 million, or less than one-fourth of the total.

While Barstool’s 7.2% market share badly trailed FanDuel’s 40.5% and DraftKings’ 28.1%, it will be closer in October when the new app can operate for a full month.

If it’s fair to extrapolate that Barstool’s $29.9 million last month might have doubled if it had started Sept. 1, that would have provided it some $60 million in handle out of a statewide total volume of about $493 million, with $444 million of that being online. That would equate to a 13.5% online market share, roughly half that of DraftKings’ share and one-third of FanDuel’s.

Would that type of ratio be enough to satisfy Penn National and its partner, Barstool Sports, as they launch the app in other legal states around the country, beginning with Michigan perhaps late this year and then others in 2021?

In the long run, they’ll probably be hoping for more — in those states as well as in Pennsylvania. The initial numbers might provide some optimism out of the starting gate, while at the same time reflecting the uphill climb the Barstool app faces from launching so many months after key competitors have already gained public awareness.

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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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