Paul Martino is a gambler.
He was FanDuel’s first US investor. Bankroll, a luxury sports bar in Philadelphia, is his eighth startup company. Since the first discussions of the concept three years ago, it has dealt with project delays and the COVID pandemic.
Who could have really blamed Martino and his investors if they scrapped it all together?
Instead, Paul Martino the gambler peaked at his Bankroll hand – his decades of startup experience, one of the best restaurateurs in America in Stephen Starr, Padma Rao, a visionary CEO, and the insatiable appetite Philadelphia has for sports.
Martino stood pat.
“The entrepreneur in me knows I’m right,” said Martino. “And I only get to prove to the world I’m right if I get to go do the damn thing. I can go to bed knowing I’m right, but you got to prove it to the rest of the world. If you are going to be in startups you gotta have that kind of motivation or else you’ll give up.”
Bankroll celebrated a ceremonial groundbreaking on April 27 in Center City.
Martino greeted a crowd of guests and media:
“It is going to be a world-class luxury experience unlike anyone has ever seen. We are doing it here in my hometown of Philadelphia because it is undoubtedly the greatest sports city in the United States.”
Martino noticed there was a huge opportunity in the sports bar industry for a modern luxury experience. Bankroll aims to combine hanging out with friends in a high-end sports bar and betting on your phone.
Details about Bankroll in Philadelphia
There are a lot of questions about what Bankroll is, and is not.
Location: 1910 Chestnut Street in the spot of the former Boyd Theatre
Cost of project: $20 million
Size: 18,500 square feet and will accommodate about 350-400 people.
When will it open? Early 2023
What is Bankroll Philadelphia? A high-end sports bar with sports betting and upscale hospitality at the forefront. There will be a restaurant, multiple bars, an upper mezzanine level with private lounges available to reserve, and TVs everywhere.
The menu: Stephen Starr, also a partner on Bankroll, and his team are still working on finalizing the menu. Starr said Bankroll will have some of the usual sports bar fare but with slightly more creative and upscale twists. He did say that the French onion soup from Parc would be on the menu.
Will there be sports betting kiosks? No
Does it have a gaming license? It does not require one. Since it is not a casino or an OTB.
What’s next for sports betting innovation
Sports betting apps started launching in Pennsylvania in 2019. In an interview with Martino in Sept. 2020, he said a venue like Bankroll couldn’t work when online sportsbooks were just arriving. But then, Martino and his fellow investors were already eyeing what’s next:
“Now the fun is going to show up,” said Martino said in 2020. “We are now going into the next wave of innovation, where it’s not just going to be casinos opening their sportsbooks. It’s going to be an integrated entertainment experience. I’m optimistic our timing might be right.”
Paul Martino has always been a gambler.
His mother, Barbara, tells people about her two sons. One is a doctor and the other is a gambler. In nearly every instance everyone wants to meet the gambler because they say he sounds like he’s more fun.
Whether it’s with 67,000 at the Linc or six of your friends, watching sports is more fun when it’s social.
Sure, you can watch games at home, bet on your phone, and order GrubHub.
Martino and Bankroll are betting that you’ll have more fun at their place.