Penn Partners With DraftKings In WV, Is PA Far Behind?

Posted on December 28, 2018

DraftKings and Penn National recently put together a deal to launch online sports betting at the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in West Virginia.

Per the press release:

“DraftKings Sportsbook will offer a superior and engaging online sports betting experience that includes live, in-game betting, the opportunity to wager on major and niche international and U.S. sports, as well as new features such as Sportsbook Pools for NFL, NBA and NHL.”

Penn National is better known in Pennsylvania as the operator of Hollywood Casino at the Penn National Race Course. Hollywood hit the headlines as the first to launch regulated sports betting in Pennsylvania.

But Penn National has a lot of interests outside the state and is looking to make the most of the opportunity to expand sports betting.

John Finamore, Sr. vice president of regional operations for Penn National Gaming commented on the deal with DraftKings:

“We are pleased to help welcome DraftKings to West Virginia. We believe the state will certainly benefit from DraftKings’ tremendous brand awareness and expertise in providing customers a quality online sports betting experience.”

Matt Kalish, chief revenue officer and co-founder of DraftKings was equally enthusiastic:

“We look forward to serving sports fans in the Mountain State and building on the immense success we have had in leading the New Jersey market. With over 90 percent of sports bettors returning to play after trying DraftKings Sportsbook, we are confident we can deliver on being the best place to play for West Virginia consumers.”

DraftKings is great but what about William Hill?

DraftKings is well known in Pennsylvania as a Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) operator, but in its home state, Penn National has partnered with William Hill for sports betting at the Hollywood Casino.

Penn also operates the Meadows Casino. So far, the property has not applied for a sports betting license.

Of course, back in August, Penn announced that its partnership with William Hill would open live sports betting in West Virginia on Sept. 1.

Timothy J. Wilmott, Chief Executive Officer, commented:

“Penn National is excited to soon begin offering sports wagering for our customers in West Virginia. The enthusiasm around sports betting has been growing since the federal ban was repealed in May, and we look forward to providing our patrons with another great amenity to enjoy at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races.”

So that begs the question, why is Penn National not also going with William Hill for its online sports betting in West Virginia?

William Hill is global, DraftKings is local

William Hill operates online sports betting across the globe. It is clearly capable of running online sports betting for Penn in West Virginia.

In New Jersey, William Hill runs the sportsbook at tMonmouth Park racetrack. On June 14 this year it took New Jersey’s first legal sports bet when Gov. Phil Murphy opened the facility.

Since then it has released its own online and mobile sports betting app and launched sports betting at Ocean Resort, one of Jersey’s newest casinos.

DraftKings, on the other hand, is primarily a DFS business. Nevertheless, DraftKings has some impressive sports betting credentials.

The first online sportsbook in New Jersey came from DraftKings. It beat out all the established casinos and their international online partners to launch.

According to revenue reports from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) it is the top performing sportsbook in the state.

in November, DraftKings, the Resorts Casino and BetStars logged $7,172,171 of revenue. The lion’s share of that came from DraftKings. First to the market plus a well known DFS brand seems to be a winning combination.

William Hill has the global expertise, but DraftKings may be best in the local market.

Perhaps that’s the way Penn National is looking at its business. Reduce the risks by picking several partners each with the capability of driving success.

It isn’t that Penn National and William Hill are not happy with each other. Penn National has gone with DraftKings in West Virginia because it can.

The sports betting market is so attractive right now that casinos can pick and choose their partners.

Penn has decided to pick what it sees as the best. And with Meadows up in the air, perhaps they will pick that direction again.

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Joss Wood

Joss Wood has a master’s degree in organisational development from the University of Manchester as well as an English degree from the University of Birmingham and also earned. His writing primarily centers on international online gambling markets, though he also writes about the legal US online gambling industry in addition to sports betting and esports gambling.

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