Penn CEO: Barstool Illinois Will Launch In Time For March Madness

Posted By Joe Boozell on February 9, 2021 - Last Updated on March 2, 2021

Where will we see Barstool Sportsbook launch next? The answer is Illinois, according to Penn National Gaming CEO Jay Snowden.

Snowden says Barstool hopes to launch in Illinois in time for March Madness, consistent with reporting by PlayIllinois a few weeks ago.

If that happens, Barstool would likely be the next legal sportsbook in Illinois. BetMGM and Unibet hope to launch in 2021, but Barstool has a clearer path toward going live.

That’s because Penn already has a management services provider license. BetMGM sportsbook and Unibet, meanwhile, are pending applicants.

Barstool has a large and engaged following among the Chicago sports betting scene, so it figures to be a key player in the Land of Lincoln.

Right now, though, three operators are dominating the Illinois sports betting market.

Can Barstool Sportsbook breakthrough?

How Barstool is performing in Pennsylvania

Barstool is fairly new to the Pennsylvania market, but it was the No. 3 sportsbook by handle in December. It only trailed FanDuel and DraftKings, and actually led all operators in revenue.

DraftKings, BetRivers and FanDuel, in that order, were the three leading Illinois sportsbooks in the last revenue report. The trio combined to account for 92% of the state’s handle.

PointsBet, the No. 4 sportsbook by handle, took about $87 million fewer in November wagers than the No. 3 operator.

At the very least, Barstool should crack the top four. BetRivers is much more of a player in Illinois than in other markets, so the top three could be tough at first.

But Barstool should garner plenty of interest in the Prairie State. And if you live in Illinois or the Chicagoland area, expect to hear a lot about them in the coming months.

Barstool retail sportsbook near St. Louis

On Penn’s latest quarterly call, Snowden cited the success of the Ameristar East Chicago sportsbook, which was recently rebranded as a Barstool Sportsbook.

Ameristar East saw handle jump by 35% a mere four weeks into the rebrand. Ameristar East is in Indiana, but is about a 40-minute drive from downtown Chicago, give or take, depending on time of day.

And recently, we also learned that the Argosy Casino Alton will feature a Barstool retail sportsbook.

That’s significant for a few reasons. First, Argosy is already the No. 2 Illinois retail sportsbook by handle each month. Its suburban St. Louis location is ideal.

Second, we thought Argosy was going to feature a Unibet retail sportsbook. Unibet signed a market access deal with Argosy months ago to gain entry into the IL market.

Instead, Unibet won’t have a retail sportsbook. Argosy, owned by Penn, has likely reasoned that a Barstool retail book will generate more revenue and interest.

Previously, we expected Barstool to partner with one of or both Hollywood casinos in Aurora and Joliet.

That very well might still happen, but we didn’t see the Argosy twist coming.

More to come besides Barstool Illinois

Barstool also recently launched in Michigan, so Illinois will likely be the third state in which it goes live. Snowden says it hopes to be in 10 states by the end of 2021.

As Penn stock continues to soar, Snowden praised Barstool’s US prospects at the recent call.

“What I think you should assume is that we are going to be top three, we said that before we ever launched and we’re delivering on that. We’re going to be profitable faster than anyone else, and we’re delivering on that and continue to deliver on that pledge, again, faster than anybody else.

“And as we scale, we just end up with a lot more dry powder to be more aggressive in the areas of widening that funnel and customer acquisition that we believe is driving the best return.”

Barstool has reportedly been acquiring customers at industry-low costs, which makes sense considering its built-in fanbase.

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Joe Boozell

Joe Boozell has also been a college sports writer for NCAA.com since 2015. His work has also appeared in Bleacher Report, FoxSports.com and NBA.com. Growing up, Boozell squared off against both Anthony Davis and Frank Kaminsky in the Chicagoland basketball scene ... you can imagine how that went.

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