Add yet another sportsbook to the long list of such mobile apps in New Jersey, but unlike some rivals, Barstool Sportsbook will debut with a formidable set of loyal fans of the brand.
A soft launch of Penn National Gaming’s Barstool site began on Thursday and ran through the weekend to Monday. Barring any glitches found by state regulators, “Stoolies” in the state can expect to be able to make bets in time for this weekend’s light slate of college football games.
Penn National, which is part-owner of Freehold Raceway, also is launching an online Barstool casino app with partner Resorts Digital Gaming. The products will be available on iOS and Android and online via desktop.
“We very much appreciate the hard work of the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement and are thrilled to be live in the New Jersey market,” Penn National spokesman Jeff Morris told njonlinegambling.com.
The soft launch allowed for a limited number of players to log in each day, on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Lots of sportsbook competition
There are 20 sportsbooks already live in New Jersey, with DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet, BetMGM, theScore, and SugarHouse among the most prominent.
William Hill is listed with Tropicana, Ocean Resort, and Monmouth Park. But that brand was acquired by Caesars earlier this year, and the books are in the process of a makeover as part of a $1 billion national promotional effort by the iconic Las Vegas brand.
Caesars, Borgata, Golden Nugget, Hard Rock, and Resorts each also have their own mobile sportsbooks. Each of the nine casinos and three racetracks can have up to three “skins” for such wagering.
Wynn, 888, BetAmerica, Betway, Unibet, and Bet365 also are in the online sports betting mix in New Jersey.
Freehold has been the lone casino or racetrack not to have a mobile partner, so Barstool will be filling a void there. Australian-based PlayUp also is expected to join the Freehold mix soon.
Online casino — where the money is
While sports betting draws more headlines, online casino is the more lucrative sector, making Penn National’s Barstool deal with Resorts Digital an important one.
In the first seven months of 2021, online casino revenues in New Jersey amounted to $752.9 million compared to $423.3 million from sports betting (about 90% of it through online wagering).
Borgata and its online casino partners took in $36.5 million, easing past Golden Nugget’s “team” with $33.5 million and Resorts Digital at $23.3 million. The latter figure more than doubled fourth-place finisher Caesars Interactive’s $10.1 million.
DraftKings is the biggest name on the Resorts Digital team, having launched in December 2018. DraftKings joined Mohegan Sun and Stars Casino on the team for Resorts, which also has its own online casino site.
BetMGM, Pala, Scores, and Party Casino are under the Borgata umbrella, while the Golden Nugget team features SugarHouse and Stardust. 888 is licensed under Caesars Interactive.
Barstool mobile brand still growing
Once the New Jersey launch is official, that will make seven states where Penn National has a Barstool mobile sportsbook, joining Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Colorado, and Virginia.
Penn National is part-owner of the Barstool Sports digital media company and uses the company’s popular, irreverent personalities to promote the sportsbook. Officials say they hope to begin operations in three additional states by the end of this year.
When Barstool launched last year in Pennsylvania, it did so without the massive television ad campaigns utilized in various states by FanDuel and DraftKings — and, more recently, Caesars. Instead, its millions of followers represent a ready-made new audience.
That could be a particularly useful game plan in New Jersey, where TV ads in the New York City or Philadelphia markets carry a huge expense to reach Garden State consumers.
Barstool has had mixed results against the competition so far, with Michigan standing out as a state where maintaining market share has proved a challenge. Colorado was just added to Barstool’s list of mobile sports betting states two weeks ago.