Penn National Gaming is one of the biggest regional gaming and entertainment companies in the US. Based in Wyomissing, PA, the company has taken an aggressive approach to expanding its market presence in the legal US sports betting industry.
That effort started with a substantial equity stake in Barstool Sports as a highly popular digital media property. The end result of that strategic partnership was the launch of Barstool Sportsbook as mobile sports betting app.
While operating in a limited number of markets, Barstool Sportsbook has proven to be a very popular brand among a younger audience of sports bettors.
As part of Penn National’s rollout plans for legal sports betting with Arizona sportsbooks, the company expanded its current business relationship with NASCAR. This includes a sponsorship package for Barstool Sportsbook at the Phoenix Raceway.
More recently, the company stepped up to become the title sponsor of college football’s Arizona Bowl. Among an extended list of bowl games, this is considered to be a mid-tier game. However, the addition of Barstool Sportsbook should raise this bowl’s appeal to the company’s core target audience.
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This season’s Arizona Bowl will be played on New Year’s Eve at Arizona Stadium in Tucson. The game traditionally features teams from the Mid-American Conference (MAC) and the Mountain West Conference (MWC).
David Portnoy is the founder of Barstool Sports and a well-recognized media figure in his own right. His thoughts on this sponsorship were as follows:
“While obviously sponsoring a Bowl game is a big deal in itself, we aren’t simply slapping our name of this and running away. We also have exclusive broadcasting rights meaning that the game will only air on Barstool Sports channels on New Years Eve Day with Barstool personalities fully immersed in the broadcast.”
Penn National Gaming currently owns 36% of Barstool Sports. In a deal that was struck in January of 2020, the company added the option to buy the highly entertaining media property outright for $450 million.
The fact that CBS is out as the broadcasting network of the Arizona Bowl is an interesting development. Instead, the game will air on Barstool’s streaming platforms which include the Barstool Sportsbook mobile betting app.
Back in 2019, Barstool made a play to become the naming sponsor of a bowl game in Mobile, AL. ESPN used its media clout to move the sponsorship rights over to LendingTree.
By moving CBS out of the picture for this season’s Arizona Bowl demonstrates the newfound clout that the legal US sports betting industry now has in the world of sports.
AZ books remain on track to launch in conjunction with the start of the new football season. As part of the approved legislation, professional sports properties located in the state are eligible to obtain and license.
The newly formed partnership with Phoenix Raceway gives Barstool Sportsbook market access with its mobile betting app. The added sponsorship of the Arizona Bowl is another key aspect of Penn National’s expansion plans for the Barstool brand in this state.