Penn National Kicks in $1 Million for Barstool Fund, Doubles Down with Sportsbook Promo

Written By Kevin Shelly on January 7, 2021
Barstool Sporstbook opening soon at Hollywood Casino York.

Pennsylvania-based Penn National Gaming, its stock around all-time highs just under $90 a share and market capitalization above $13.5 billion, just tossed $1 million into the Barstool Fund for bailing out virus-battered businesses.

Barstool is the sports and entertainment juggernaut 36% owned by Penn, with platforms created by Dave Portnoy.

Penn rebranded its sports gambling presence, retail and online, as Barstool. The company continues to roll out the Barstool app in new jurisdictions after first launching last fall only in PA. The company plans to offer the app in all jurisdictions where it has a presence and online wagering is legal.

Barstool Fund began with Portnoy’s money

Portnoy kicked off the Barstool Fund with $500,000 of his own money. This week, he announced on his Twitter feed that Penn had joined with him, kicking in a million.

That came after he rallied his fans – “Stoolies” – in October to donate to the historic Reading Terminal Market, a Center City staple of primarily food suppliers and eateries hit by low foot traffics due to the pandemic. Portnoy’s followers raised $250,000 for the iconic location.

Penn National also threw into the fund

Penn spokesman Eric Schippers explained in an email this week:

“We’re contributing $1 million to the Barstool Fund to help small business owners across the country. In addition to that, in Pennsylvania, we’re planning to match all first time deposits to the Barstool App this weekend, provided they wager what they deposit, with our matching dollars going to support small businesses in this state reeling from the pandemic.”

Penn’s philanthropy comes even as COVID-19 continues to disrupt their properties, with 159 new layoffs at the beginning of the month at M Resort, 17 miles from Las Vegas. Their other nearby Nevada property, the Las Vegas Tropicana, was late to re-open and the property was sold at a loss of $52.5 million.

Penn still has challenges

Schippers did not directly address how many former Penn employees have permanently lost their jobs or remain furloughed. But he pointed to assistance programs.

“Our number of furloughed team members fluctuates based on ongoing casino closures and increased capacity restraints in our jurisdictions.”

He said the company established a special COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund back in March to assist.

“We have contributed more than $3.7 million to the fund through private donations from our senior executives, board of directors, and our foundation. In addition, we extended medical and pharmacy benefits coverage for impacted employees.”

But their philanthropy doesn’t stop there.

“We have also contributed $2.5 million to help our community and team members impacted by Hurricane Laura in the Gulf Coast.”

Penn’s leader, Jay Snowden, spelled out the relief funds for employees in December, including $2 million to help employees move on to new careers. The company also gave one-time cash bonuses to many employees.

Fund draws positive coverage

The Barstool Fund has generated a ton of positive buzz for Portnoy – often seen as a bad boy – and Penn, most recently a stint on NBC’s Today Show.

And why not?

More than 145,000 people have contributed more than $19 million to the fund, with 81 businesses assisted so far. Here’s a list of businesses in PA getting assistance.

To apply, email [email protected].

You can also make contributions here.

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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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