Barstool Sports generated hype in Michigan when Greektown Casino in Detroit announced its sportsbook would be branded by the popular online sports media company. But given the success Barstool has seen after launching its sportsbook app in Pennsylvania, expectations and excitement continue to grow as it prepares to go live in Michigan with its sportsbook and mobile app.
As of Oct. 24, nearly 48,000 people have registered for sports betting through Barstool’s mobile app in Pennsylvania. Over the first 37 days of operation, the app generated a total handle of $38 million across 30,000 first-time depositors.
“We look forward to an exciting finish to the year as we introduce Barstool-branded retail sportsbooks across our portfolio and, subject to final regulatory approval, the launch of our Barstool Sportsbook app in Michigan,” Jay Snowden, President and Chief Executive Officer of Penn National Gaming, said in a news release.
The anticipation appears to be reciprocated by Michiganders. When Greektown announced on Twitter its new sportsbook would be rebranded by Barstool, the tweet received more than 500 retweets and 2,500 likes. By comparison, the majority of Greektown’s tweets typically see limited traction with a handful of likes.
“The Barstool brand is extremely exciting, and they have a very loyal following that’s growing by the minute,” Hugh Flack, Greektown vice president of gaming operations, said. “The big thing about their brand is that they want their followers to win and succeed. They’re great advocates for that brand.”
Barstool’s devout fanbase propelled the company to have the best sports betting mobile app debut out of the major sportsbooks. In the first weekend of its launch on Sept. 18 in Pennsylvania, the Barstool Sportsbook app was downloaded over 63,000 times, including a Saturday high of 23,000 downloads. The app’s download numbers were boosted with the MLB, NHL, college football, NFL and US Open golf all in action.
The mobile launches from DraftKings and FanDuel paled in comparison. During DraftKings’ opening weekend in August 2018, its mobile sports betting app received 4,000 downloads. FanDuel released its sports betting app during the 2018 NFL opening weekend and saw just 9,000 downloads.
“In addition, we have seen high user engagement on the app, with over 39% of our customers placing wagers on bets promoted by the Barstool personalities,” Snowden said. “Our early experience in Pennsylvania has reinforced our view that we are well-positioned to achieve meaningful and profitable market share in the high-growth sports betting and iCasino space.”
Barstool has continues to have a strong engagement presence, particularly on social media, with more than 50 million followers on Instagram, 26 million followers on Twitter and 22 million followers on TikTok. And despite only recently launching, the Barstool Sportsbook accounts have generated more than 700,000 total followers on Twitter and Instagram.
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But in addition to its online content, Snowden hinted at the possibility of Barstool expanding its reach across other platforms. In what he’s seen, customers who play through Barstool in multiple channels, including land-based casinos, retail sportsbooks and iCasino, are over 12 times more valuable than customers who only play at one of the company’s casinos.
“To capitalize on the excitement around Barstool Sports, we are working with Barstool to launch standalone Barstool-branded entertainment destinations in key markets,” he said. “These locations will serve as virtual sportsbooks in large metropolitan areas in states with approved online sports betting, which we believe will further expand the reach of the Barstool brand and help us acquire new customers at attractive economics.
“With Barstool actively promoting our retail and online sports betting offerings to their massive and growing audience, we believe we can retain and cross sell these customers to visit our land-based casinos and play our iCasino products.”
In early October, Flack hinted at the possibility of Greektown and Barstool working together on entertainment options, saying the casino “is finding opportunities in the future to have live or recorded events at our facility with the Barstool personalities.” His assertion aligns with Snowden’s company goal of widening Barstool’s entertainment reach.
“When the Barstool guys go to an event, they always attract a big crowd,” Flack said. “In addition, they obviously have a huge online presence. I want to say they reach millions of people through their online channels. And if you look at what their brand is all about, it’s all about sports and sports betting, so it’s a very easy tie-in to the sports betting industry that we’re now in.
“But it’ll be very powerful both from an online standpoint, and for the app, but also here for the retail sportsbook.”