The “Stoolies” now have a place where they can sit and place bets.
After entering the Pennsylvania market via online sports betting in September, Barstool Sports made its grand entrance into the retail side Thursday afternoon when the Barstool Sportsbook at Ameristar Casino Resort Spa Black Hawk took its first wagers in Colorado.
Ameristar is one of six sportsbooks currently operating in Black Hawk and opened its retail space July 23 before undergoing renovations to incorporate the Barstool brand. Penn National Gaming purchased a 36% stake in Barstool Sports for $163 million in February and is expected to continue adding locations in legal jurisdictions across the United States.
“We are very excited to be opening the first Barstool Sportsbook in the country at Ameristar Black Hawk,” Penn National Gaming President and CEO Jay Snowden said in a joint statement. “This will be the first of many new retail locations for Barstool Sportsbooks at our casinos nationwide. Each will incorporate several features that reflect the spirit of the Barstool Sports brand, resulting in unique sports betting experiences that we expect our customers will thoroughly enjoy.”
“There’s tremendous buzz,” Ameristar Casino General Manager Sean Demuele told CO Bets. “One of the features is a 12×24 video wall. Even with that area cordoned off (during construction), you can see it from the majority of the casino space. There has been a buzz and excitement, and then you add the Barstool Sports branding elements you can see from outside the room.”
Colorado is quickly establishing itself as a formidable sports betting market and generated a handle of nearly $208 million in September. One short-term challenge for Barstool Sportsbook is the lack of a mobile component, which is not expected to be available until early 2021. More than 98% of the state’s September handle was generated via online wagering, and an overwhelming amount of the $460 million bet since the May 1 launch has come via mobile/online betting. Despite occupancy restrictions from COVID-19, retail sportsbooks have faced challenges in filling the areas since reopening earlier this summer after an extended shutdown.
A second-floor spectacle for sports bettors
— Barstool Sportsbook (@BSSportsbook) November 5, 2020
The Barstool influence is readily apparent as it forms the perimeter of the sportsbook and gaming area. The logo is prominently displayed throughout the sportsbook as are props promoting Barstool shows such as “Pardon My Take.” The DDTG logo, which represents Barstool founder Dave Portnoy’s live-stream show “Davey Day Trader Global,” also is situated in the sportsbook.
Demeule noted the construction process, which was interrupted fo three months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was a collaborative effort between his team and the Penn National Gaming side.
“We worked with the Penn marketing team who coordinates Barstool Sports sportsbooks and with the Barstool Sports folks,” Demeule told CO Bets about the process. “We absolutely sent them design drawings, they commented, we make adjustments. There are 15-20 branding elements in the room in which they provided feedback.”
The ticket writer station is flanked by three self-service kiosks on both sides, and there are both television screens and odds boards above both sets of kiosks. All told, there are 13 self-serve kiosks in the sportsbook area and another eight on the casino grounds. Above the ticket writer station is the central feature of the Barstool Sportsboook, a 24-foot by 12-foot video wall with a sports ticker updating scores.
There is also a multiscreen odds board behind the ticket writer station, and bettors are consistently in close proximity to a television screen so they can follow their wagers.
“Our customers are very excited to start wagering on sports,” Demeule said. “The passion for professional and college sports runs deep in this region, and we look forward to becoming a destination for fans all year-round.”
Will online promise help retail potential?
Penn National touted Barstool’s online success in Pennsylvania last month during its third-quarter earnings call, reporting 48,000 registrations and an online handle of $78 million through Oct. 24.
With a strong correlation between table games — Ameristar has been operating table games at 50% capacity since mid-September and has four table games in the sportsbook area — and sports betting, it may take some time before Black Hawk becomes a destination for the “Stoolies,” whose demographic is primarily young, male, and actively targeted by Portnoy through Barstool content.
Demuele expects the mobile component to be available at some point next year, but in the short term, he is looking forward to the expected younger demographic providing a jolt to Ameristar for traditional gaming as well.
“The experience we offer up here is going to make people say, ‘Wow I gotta drive up,'” Demuele said. “There are 29 large-format TVs in the space. It’s really cool, it’s a cool space and something that will wow people.
“(The) Barstool guest is younger than traditional casino guests,” he added. “We’re excited to introduce the sportsbook and introduce the casino to a younger demographic, and the hotel service we provide who may not think about gaming as an entertainment dollar.”