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Penn National Joins Forces with Rivers Casino to Bid for “Second Skin” in New York

On Monday, Penn National Gaming, Inc. announced a partnership deal with Rivers Casino that’s supposed to last at least 20 years. The reason behind such a decision is for the operator to gain potential access to the New York mobile/online sports betting market in the future.

Although the State of New York still hasn’t made internet gaming legal, Penn National seems confident the change is coming. In the words of Jon Kaplowitz, who serves as the Vice President of Interactive Gaming, “New York could become one of the nation’s most lucrative sports betting markets.”

Second Skin for Penn National

Once online sports betting becomes legal in New York State, Penn National is almost certain to get its share of the market. That’s supposed to happen through the Barstool sportsbook app, which is a brand partially owned by this company. Penn National’s plan is to use the deal with Rivers Casino to get “second skin” access to the market.

The trouble is that, even though online sports betting legalization in NY seems imminent, no one is guaranteed a license. It’s still not clear which model will be used – free-market or the state lottery model. Governor Cuomo is pushing for the latter approach, which would leave casino operators out of the picture.

However, everyone involved with Penn National is rooting for the New York State Assembly to go with the free-market approach. This model is used by practically all states that are recording high revenue figures. As per Mr. Kaplowitz, with multiple skins for mobile sports betting, New York would see significantly more money pouring into the state budget.

Positive Experiences from PA and MI

For more than 50 years, the company has been involved with casino gaming, operating 40+ land-based facilities in the US and Canada. Since last year, Penn National also controls a 36% stake in Barstool Sports.

January 29, 2020, was when the company paid $163m for the Barstool Sports share. That deal opened the doors to the online betting universe for Penn National.

In September 2020, Barstool mobile sportsbook app launched in Pennsylvania. In February 2021, the app went live in Michigan, where nearly 50,000 people signed up for the sportsbook within 10 days from the launch. During that period, the mobile sportsbook generated a total handle of $27.5 million.

Apart from entering the New York betting market, the company also plans to their launch online sportsbooks in nine other states.

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