A Barstool-branded sportsbook is expected to open Wednesday night at Detroit’s Greektown Casino Hotel, just two days before Christmas.
The move coincides with the casino’s reopening for the first time since Nov. 15, when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer rolled out sweeping shutdown restrictions in the wake of a COVID-19 resurgence that also included closing of high schools and universities statewide as well as a moratorium on indoor dining.
Penn National Gaming, which in January acquired a 36% interest in Barstool Sports for $163 million, also announced the planned opening of two more physical Barstool sportsbooks this week in Indiana — at Penn National’s Hollywood Casino Lawrenceburg on Wednesday and Ameristar East Chicago Casino on Thursday.
That means that Michigan and Indiana will be the second and third states — pick your own order — to land Barstool sportsbooks, trailing only pioneering Colorado and its Barstool Sportsbook that opened last month at Ameristar Casino Resort Spa Black Hawk.
“We are thrilled to be opening our new Barstool Sportsbook,” John Drake, vice president and general manager at Greektown Casino, said in a statement. “The new design showcases the spirit of the Barstool Sports brand, resulting in an outstanding sports wagering experience that we expect our customers will thoroughly enjoy.”
The details, by the ‘book’
Drake said that the Barstool Sportsbook is located on the second floor of Greektown Casino, near the casino’s table games area. Large odds boards, sports betting kiosks, countless televisions of all sizes, and the availability of fine dining all are promised.
In other words, it seems, it will look like a typical sportsbook.
But the difference-maker, potentially, in a city like Detroit that features three casinos is a Barstool brand that has millions of devoted followers — or “Stoolies” — as well as a controversial history that has included drawing the ire of various rights groups objecting to sometimes-coarse language.
Barstool founder Dave Portnoy, the face of the brand, is one of many personalities for Barstool who have tripped some sensitivity wires over the years. Gaming analysts have split on whether the controversy will allow Barstool to stand out from the large crowd of sports betting operators.
Portnoy and his “partners in crime” presumably will make a site visit soon, although limited capacity at casinos complicates matters because of the potential for Barstool drawing a large crowd even in the midst of a pandemic.
Sports bettors’ “choice”
As would be expected, visitors will be able to earn tier points using the Penn National “myChoice” loyalty program when placing bets in the sportsbook.
Penn National has 41 gaming properties across 19 states, including Pennsylvania, which became home to the first Barstool mobile sports betting app that launched in mid-September.
Penn National has two casinos in the Keystone State — Hollywood and Meadows — that seem likely targets for Barstool Sportsbooks as soon as March Madness 2021, while its AmeriStar casino in Iowa could also have an aggressive time frame for rebranding.
At least one industry analyst is very bullish on Barstool’s chances to box out a sizable position of the Michigan sports betting market.
“I would actually say Barstool could be the favorite to be the number one sportsbook in Michigan,” Matias Dorta, an associate at Roundhill Investments, told MI Bets last week. Dorta spends his professional life analyzing gaming companies for the firms’ BETZ ETF, the largest sports betting ETF in the market.
“I think it will be a focal point for Barstool and Penn National Gaming to make sure that happens. So when they launched in Pennsylvania, you literally had half the Barstool team living half the time in Pennsylvania,” he said. “I think for Michigan they’re going to go full throttle.”