PENN Entertainment Completes Barstool Sports Purchase for $388M

Written By Dan Holmes on February 17, 2023 - Last Updated on February 23, 2023

Barstool Sports has been fully purchased by PENN Entertainment. This makes the long-standing gambling and entertainment brand a part of the company that infused cash into it only three years ago.

PENN paid a reported $388 million for the remaining shares of Barstool. It previously controlled 36% of the shares following a buy-in in 2020. Key Barstool executives and the roster of content creators at Barstool brand will continue to produce content for the company. 

Barstool Sportsbook, which is operated by PENN Entertainment, is available in for retail Massachusetts sports betting at PENN-owned Plainridge Park Casino. Its online platform will launch in the state on March 10.

Will Anything Change in Massachusetts?

The sale of Barstool to PENN Entertainment will not alter the access Massachusetts sports bettors have to the Barstool Sportsbook betting app. The retail sportsbook at Plainridge Park Casino will also be unaffected.

PENN has promised the sports betting app will be even better, however.

“Barstool Sportsbook will greatly benefit from the upcoming migration to our proprietary technology stack, a move that will significantly enhance the overall product offering and deliver meaningful upside,” said Jay Snowden, PENN Entertainment CEO, on Friday via a press release.

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How Barstool Has Evolved in 20 Years

Founder Dave Portnoy launched Barstool as little more than a gambling sheet and sports newsletter in 2003 in Milton, Massachusetts. The company has grown to include social media channels, websites, and podcasts, as well as video and radio programming. Portnoy has evolved into a popular and at times controversial face of the brand. His brash style is popular with his followers, called “Stoolies,” and he has called himself “The Prez” on social media.

Since its entry as a major stockholder in Barstool, PENN has utilized the popular Barstool brand for its gaming offerings, leveraging the success Barstool has with a young demographic of 20- and 30-year olds.

The company has launched a Barstool-branded mobile sportsbook in 15 states (16 on March 10). It also has retail sportsbooks under the same name in several states, including Massachusetts.

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According to PENN, since 2020, Barstool has grown its overall audience 194% and recorded a total of 1.6 billion podcast downloads. It has also streamed over 800,000 videos for more than 128 billion views. Barstool also reportedly sold more than 5 million pieces of merchandise from its apparel and accessories line in 2022.

Barstool has not been afraid to enter new markets and innovate with their products. In 2022, the brand forged into live event programming. It produced and broadcasted a Division I college basketball tournament, the Barstool Sports Invitational. Also last year, the company debuted TwoYay. That’s a Name Image Likeness (NIL) marketplace that allows college athletes to partner with brands and advertising agencies.

Just How Valuable Is Barstool?

Its proven track record with a younger niche audience that loves to watch and consume content about sports has made Barstool a lucrative property for PENN.

“Barstool is a proven, powerful media brand with an authentic voice and vast, loyal audience that provides us with a strong top of funnel for new customer acquisition and organic cross-selling opportunities across our growing interactive division,” Snowden said in a press release announcing the acquisition on Feb. 17.

While the bulk of Barstool content is sports-related, and Barstool Sportsbook has been given a focus by PENN in recent years, the company is also a popular lifestyle brand. Many Barstool hosts, including Portnoy himself, create content around food, clothing, music, movies, and more under the brand. The company claims to reach “over 200M fans across social and rapidly growing.”

“Barstool Sports is bigger than ever and has become more than I ever dreamed of,” Portnoy said in the release.

Portnoy will continue to work for Barstool following the sale of the company he founded.

In recent years, Portnoy has been at the center of numerous controversies. He was accused of sexual misconduct by at least three women in 2021, though charges were never filed. The National Labor Relations Board investigated him in 2019 when he allegedly threatened to fire his employees if they unionized.

Portnoy eventually settled with the NLRB. He was arrested at NFL headquarters in 2015 when he handcuffed himself to the office in protest of the Deflategate scandal.

RETAIL BETTING: We Ranked the 3 Massachusetts Casino Sportsbooks. Which Is the Best?

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Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes is a Staff Writer for PlayMA with plenty of experience under his belt. Dan has written three books about sports and previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball. He also has extensive experience covering the launch of sports betting in other states, including Ohio and Maryland. Currently, Dan is residing in Michigan with his family.

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