Coming Soon: Penn National Barstool App in PA Will Miss NFL Season Start

Written By Kevin Shelly on September 8, 2020 - Last Updated on November 19, 2020
Penn National Barstool Sports betting app will miss NFL start

Penn National Gaming‘s slightly delayed rollout of its Barstool Sportsbook app, debuting exclusively in Pennsylvania, will miss the NFL season kickoff and the first weekend of games, including the two PA teams’ openers.

Testing of the online betting app is set for Sept. 15-17, but that still depends on final iOS app approval, a Penn press release said Tuesday morning.

The full launch is set for Sept. 18, dependent on approval by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB).

Late Barstool launch means missing Eagles and Steelers openers

The company’s revised rollout timetable — the end of August and before football began was the original target — means missing wagering on the opening NFL game Thursday night, Sept. 10, in a contest featuring the Houston Texans at the Kansas City Chiefs.

The late launch for Barstool Sportsbook also means no online wagering for the Pennsylvania-based gambling and hospitality company on Sept. 13 for the Philadelphia Eagles at the Washington Football Team, or on Sept. 14 for the Pittsburgh Steelers at the New York Giants.

That’s a missed opportunity, especially considering the popularity of the NFL in the state where Penn National is debuting the betting app. Penn plans to launch the app in more states following PA, but there is no stated timetable.

Penn National has not completely been shut out of online gambling in PA, however. It also owns the Hollywood Casino app, which was one of the first to market in PA. New users who sign up through our links can get $25 free upon sign-up and an up to $500 deposit bonus.

Barstool buy-in has bolstered PENN stock

PENN stock opened NASDAQ trading up about 5% Tuesday following the long weekend and the announcement of the app trial before settling back in and ended the day at more than $55 a share. It’s a far cry from the less than $4 share price when the virus shook financial markets in March.

PENN stock quickly gained value when the Barstool deal was announced in late January, only to drop like a stone due to COVID-19 closures. However, it has regained its footing and improved since, boosted seemingly primarily on hopes for the online Barstool app.

Penn bought a 36% cut of Barstool, with an option to buy a controlling interest down the line. The company paid $163 million in cash and stock in the agreement.

Barstool president David Portnoy, CEO Erika Nardini and Penn National President Jay Snowden made a series of appearances, pumping up the synergies of their relationship. That included rebranding their retail sportsbooks, such as at their Grantville, PA, flagship facility.

The market effects of Portnoy’s livestreamed day trading and talking up of stocks has been called “the Portnoy effect.”

Retail rebranding delayed, too

The rebranding, too, appears to have been delayed despite big talk of an “omnichannel strategy” for the company and integration with Barstool.

The casino and the adjoining racetrack have been open since the height of the virus pandemic, but the retail sportsbook space remains closed. There is one cashier, working only from noon to 8 p.m., and several kiosks available for on-site wagering at the casino.

Any revamping of the closed retail sportsbook space in Grantville would require PGCB approval, as well as a review of security and surveillance — something Hollywood has not yet sought, according to a PGCB spokesman.

Omnichannel strategy for Penn National

Snowden spoke of the company’s strategy in the release Tuesday, including its retail sportsbooks:

“The Barstool Sportsbook app is the centerpiece of our company’s omnichannel strategy. Since forming our exclusive sports betting and iGaming partnership with Barstool Sports in January, our product, marketing and operations teams have worked hand-in-hand with Barstool’s top talent, including Dave Portnoy and Dan ‘Big Cat’ Katz, to create a sports betting experience that we’re confident will appeal to Barstool’s army of loyal followers, as well as our extensive database of existing casino customers and sports betting fans at large.

“As the only gaming operator with a fully integrated sports media and entertainment partner, our customers will have the opportunity to engage with Dave, Big Cat and other Barstool fan favorites on our app — including betting with them or fading their picks. Our customers will also have an opportunity to interact with Barstool personalities live at one of our many casinos’ retail Barstool Sportsbooks in the coming months.

“This is an important milestone in our company’s continued evolution to be the leading omnichannel provider of retail and online gaming, live racing and sports betting entertainment.”

Only preregistered participants can play. They can make real-money wagers and access the features and functionality of the Barstool Sportsbook, the release promised.

Parts of Penn still not back to normal

Penn’s Las Vegas casino, Tropicana, remains closed on the Las Vegas Strip. Construction of two PA mini-casinos, one in York, another in Morgantown, likewise remains idle.

And thousands of former Penn National employees have permanently lost their jobs.

Despite a loss of $214.4 million in the most recent quarter, PENN stock remains near all-time highs. Most analysts remain bullish on the stock, though Morgan Stanley recently downgraded it.

Gambling stocks overall have done well in the market of late.

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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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