PA Gaming Review: DraftKings Casino & Horse Racing Gear Up To Get Out Of The Gate

Written By Kevin Shelly on April 29, 2020 - Last Updated on December 11, 2023
Horse tracks hoping to get out of the gate soon

The new reality of wagering in a world reeling and still dealing with COVID-19 has produced some news in the past week.

PA’s Penn National Gaming’s new sports betting partner, Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports, dropped $1 million in a month as a stock trader.

DraftKings plans to add an online casino to its portfolio in the Quaker State as demand for online surges.

And while there is no Kentucky Derby this spring, you can watch a virtual derby even as PA’s six tracks submit plans for reopening without spectators.

Unable to talk about PENN stock dive, Portnoy became Davey Day Trader

Portnoy’s transition to stock trader began a bit more than a month ago, just after his stock holdings in Penn National went from $39 a share to $3.75.

Penn had just bought a big chunk of Barstool for cash and stock as part of the company’s plan to enter the online sports betting market under the Barstool brand name.

But then BAM! Most sports and sports betting came to a stop due to virus restrictions and Penn’s stock faltered. Unable to sound off due to securities trading rules, he bought shares in other companies and began live-streaming five days a week.

The transition to Davey Day Trader Global has not been pretty, though it has been plenty entertaining.

Veteran day trader Adam Mesh, whose business is two buildings from Barstool’s Manhattan location, is skeptical of Penn and Portnoy.

“I’d rather be on a cruise ship than owning Penn National Gaming,” Mesh said of the gaming stock, which is now above $18.00 a share.

As to Portnoy as a stock trader, Mesh added, “I don’t think this ends well.”

DraftKings moves to start online casino in PA

The week after becoming a publicly-traded company, DraftKings plans to enter the online casino market in PA.

The company has an online casino integrated with its sportsbook in nearby New Jersey. In Pennsylvania, DraftKings sportsbook operates in partnership with The Meadows, which doesn’t have an online casino license. So they will likely be pairing with Penn’s other PA property, Hollywood, for the online casino.

DraftKings online casino is set to fully launch on May 1, pending a successful soft launch on Wednesday and Thursday.

Off to the races?

The bright spot for those accustomed to online wagering on sporting events has been horse racing, as online horse betting continues.

While somewhat limited in terms of offerings, racing has never entirely stopped due to virus restrictions in some jurisdictions, including about half a dozen in the US. They’ve continued to run without spectators.

Now PA tracks are hoping to reopen soon without spectators as the state’s governor, Tom Wolf, begins a phased plan to lift some restrictions region by region.

The horse community is preparing to have reopening plans to the governor by May 8.

And while the Kentucky Derby is now set for September 5, a simulated Triple Crown Showdown is set for May 2, the traditional race day. The NBC broadcast runs from 3-6 p.m. on Saturday.

So stock up on mint julep supplies to watch from home. As for the real-life pony races, you can wager on them at TVG’s PABets in Pennsylvania.

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Kevin Shelly

Kevin C. Shelly is an award-winning career journalist who has spent most of his career in South Jersey. He's the former assistant city editor of The Press of Atlantic City, where he covered the casino industry and Atlantic City government as a reporter. He was also an investigative, narrative enterprise, and features reporter for Gannett’s Courier-Post.

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