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Nothing subtle or quiet surrounds anything involving Barstool activities.
That includes a word that Barstool Sportsbook will soon be coming to Illinois after an official announcement was made on Monday afternoon. The exact launch date has not been made yet, but the app should likely be available before the beginning of the upcoming 2021 NCAA Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament later this month.
Both Hollywood Casinos in Joliet and in Aurora IL shared the announcement on social media earlier this week with Barstool Sports personalities providing additional details. As with prior Barstool openings, there will be major promotional opportunities for new sign-ups when the app goes live.
Leading the charge was CEO and leader Dave Portnoy, a.k.a. “Big Cat”, addressing the exciting news for his audience, also known as “Stoolies”. Illinois marks the third online state where Barstool will operate, joining their expanding mobile presence in Pennsylvania and Michigan.
Although entering the market a bit later than major competitors including DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel, PointsBet, BetMGM among others, Barstool has achieved a very respectable share in the states where they are licensed. Beyond their three current US states, Barstool has plans to operate in several others in the near future.
They have rapidly established themselves among the top choices in Pennsylvania and Michigan, ranking third in handle among the twelve existing online gaming options in Pennsylvania. And with Michigan just beginning, Barstool Sportsbook is already among the top-ranked mobile brands for bettors in the state.
The Barstool Sportsbook brand is backed by Penn National Gaming, which acquired a 36% share of the company in January 2020. As part of their joint business plan, they intend to install retail sportsbooks carrying the “Barstool” name and simultaneously operate the brand online where Penn National operates their casinos and are licensed.
Current Penn National Gaming properties involved in the partnership with Barstool include Hollywood Casinos in Illinois along with the Ameristar Casino in East Chicago (Indiana) providing the first three locations. All are within an approximate hour drive of Chicago, IL.
Illinois will likely remain one of the five largest sports betting markets in the US, based on wagering handle this year, and could be ranked as high as third based on some professional estimates. Adding Barstool Sportsbook enriches an already deep competition that should benefit all bettors within the state. A sizeable part of Barstool’s success has been targeting a younger generation of sports bettors matching their audience.
Five mobile operators currently exist in Illinois awaiting Barstool’s entry with DraftKings Sportsbook having the largest handle share. The Illinois Gaming Board reported a combined sportsbook handle of $491.7 million in their last December report. That figure indicated the fourth-highest total of any state. Nearly $194 million or almost 40% was provided by DraftKings Sportsbook.
FanDuel edged BetRivers in the market for second place as both topped the $100 million handle mark. PointsBet ans Caesars are the other sportsbook operators available for bettors in Illinois.
Barstool’s plans to enter their next largest potential market ride with the fortunes of every other sportsbook operator as the state of New York evaluate their plans to legislate online sports wagering. New York undoubtedly would welcome Barstool with their large base of devoted listeners and loyal identity.
It still remains to be seen how New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislators would approve statewide mobile wagering or if they can obtain any consensus to do so. But getting Penn National Gaming and the popular Barstool brand among the mix would certainly raise the stakes and tax funding the state desperately needs.
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Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.
Email: [email protected]
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