Barstool Launches in Illinois; Third State App is Live In

Barstool Launches in Illinois; Third State App is Live In
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Barstool Sportsbook is live in Illinois, just in time for March Madness.

The app launched Thursday at noon just days after Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy tweeted it would join the Illinois online gambling scene. Illinois is the third state for Barstool after the company previously launched in Pennsylvania and Michigan.

CHECK OUT: One year in: A look at the impact of Illinois sports betting

The Illinois launch fit into the plans of what Penn National Gaming CEO Jay Snowden said in an earnings call on Feb. 4. He said he hopes to have online operations in a total of 10 states by the next NFL season. Other states he’s looking to launch in include Colorado, Indiana, New Jersey, Virginia, West Virginia, Iowa and Tennessee.

“We are extremely excited to launch our online Barstool Sportsbook in Illinois just as the college basketball regular season wraps up and bettors begin their preparations for March Madness,” Snowden said in a news release Tuesday. “Dan ‘Big Cat’ Katz started Barstool Chicago in 2012 and has worked with Chief, Eddie, Carl, and ‘White Sox’ Dave to develop a tremendous following across the state by covering all things Windy City through daily blogs and social media content, including the immensely popular ‘Red Line Radio’ podcast. As the only gaming operator with a fully integrated sports media and entertainment partner, our customers in Illinois will now be able to engage with these Barstool personalities through the online Barstool Sportsbook and enjoy their unique take on Chicago sports.”

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker on March 5 extended remote registration in the state with the NCAA Tournament starting March 18, although you can’t bet on Illinois colleges. Illinois exceeded $580 million in sports betting handle in January. The vast majority came via mobile; in December, the state's $491 million in sports betting handle was all mobile because casinos in the state were closed.

With Barstool live, there are six online sportsbooks in Illinois.

In January 2020, Penn National purchased a 36% interest in Barstool Sports, which was principally an online media company with a large database of rabid followers.

Barstool's Sportsbook app went live in Pennsylvania on Sept. 18 in partnership with Penn National. It was the first state where the Barstool Sportsbook app became available. In its first weekend alone (Sept. 18-20), the Barstool Sportsbook app was downloaded more than 63,000 times, averaging 21,000 downloads a day Friday through Sunday.

Barstool had a strong launch in Michigan

Barstool was one of the operators to go live in Michigan with online sports betting on Jan. 22. In the first 10 days, there were 48,400 registrations with 26,200 first-time depositors, a $27.3 million handle and $3.3 million in gross gaming revenue.

Those numbers were an improvement compared to Pennsylvania’s debut weekend. In Michigan’s first weekend, it had more registrations with 24,445 compared to 21,865 for Pennsylvania. Michigan also beat out Pennsylvania with more first-time deposits (18,946 to 11,294) and had a bigger handle ($13.698 million to $8.137 million), according to data from Penn National.

Barstool also saw a higher daily active user rate (DAU) at 1.8 times higher than average DAUs in Pennsylvania. Penn National also reported that the publicity from Michigan’s launch boosted registrations in Pennsylvania by 99% when analyzing week over week numbers in the state.

Online Casino Could Come in the Future

Barstool’s online casino launched in Michigan on Feb. 1 after the Michigan Gaming Control Board approved it. Illinois has yet to approve iGaming, but lawmakers have begun filing bills that would bring mobile casino gaming to the state.

CHECK OUT: Top Illinois sportsbooks

State Rep. Bob Rita filed HB3142 on Feb. 18. The bill would “authorize a casino or racetrack to offer internet gaming or contract with a platform to offer internet gaming, as regulated by the Illinois Gaming Board.” Rita was one of the major proponents in the legalization of sports betting in Illinois.

If online casinos are approved in Illinois, players can likely expect Barstool to enter the market.