Looking at the Penn National Approach to Sports Betting in the USA

The legalization of sports betting in the United States has opened new opportunities for established casino operators and startups alike. Penn National Gaming is the largest regional casino operator to take advantage of the opportunity. Partnerships with DraftKings, PointsBet, theScore and The Stars Group (FOX Bet) across 16 states pending favorable legislation put Penn National on a path of rapid expansion.

In fact, Penn National has emerged as one of the most aggressive land-based operators in pursuit of sports betting. After last year’s Supreme Court ruling overturning the national sports betting prohibition, Penn National was quick to act.

Penn National properties have been the first to cross the finish line in two states already. In West Virginia, Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races booked the state’s first ever legal sports wager last August – just three months after the Supreme Court ruling.

In Pennsylvania, Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course had the honors of booking the state’s first legal sports bet. Penn National also offers online gambling for PA residents through HollywoodCasino.com.

Penn National Gaming has also launched retail sportsbooks in Mississippi, Iowa and Indiana since last year.

How Penn National Views Online Sports Betting

In comments shared with the Reading Eagle, Penn executive Eric Schippers explained how Penn National views sports betting in relation to other casino products:

“Sports betting is an added amenity that helps drive increased visitation to our facilities and allows us to engage with new customers online where mobile sports wagering is authorized. Online casino games will also help generate new business for the casino industry but we’re in the very nascent stage of online gaming in this country. “

In July, Penn National announced partnerships with four major gaming operators to pursue sports betting across the country wherever the law allows. Each of the four operators will gain access to markets in which Penn National has a physical presence in return for equity, revenue share and market access fees.

Eric Schippers also explained that Penn National has changed course in how it will manage its own retail and online betting operations. Moving forward, Penn Interactive Ventures and Kambi will partner to act as Penn’s exclusive, in-house sports betting provider.

Previously, Penn National relied on William Hill to manage and operate its sports betting operations in numerous states.

Here’s Schippers on the change of strategy:

“We recently announced that we will be consolidating and retaining control of our retail and online sportsbook operations and strategy over the upcoming months. Given our tremendous scale and the significance of the U.S. sports betting opportunity, we came to the conclusion that there were compelling economic advantages of managing our own retail sports betting operations rather than completely outsourcing to a third party, such as William Hill.”

 Schippers also told the Reading Eagle that Penn National has deliberately modified its approach to online sports betting with an eye for the long term. For some context as to what Penn National means by “long term,” note that three of the four partnerships announced in July are for 20 years while one is for 10 years with a 10-year renewal option.

Here’s Schippers on the long-term approach:

“Penn National Gaming is uniquely positioned with the nation’s largest regional casino footprint and an active player database of more than 5 million customers, to efficiently market a best-in-class omnichannel sports book and iCasino experience to our customers. Online sports betting and online casino gaming is still a nascent business, and we are looking at this through a long lens.”

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