Penn National Gaming (PNG), owner of the Tropicana and M Resort, in Las Vegas reported quarterly and 2020 earnings this week. But it occurred with one noticeable absence: There was nary a question or comment about PNG’s Las Vegas properties.
During the earnings call, PNG CEO Jay Snowden said 2020 represented “one of the most difficult and surreal years” for the company, personally and professionally. While revenue was down for the year, the company remained excited about its future with the potential of its online casino and Barstool Sportsbook.
PNG purchased 36% of Barstool Sports a year ago. The brand’s integration has drastically changed how the regional casino operator does business. Penn National is so enamored with the partnership that it could purchase the rest of the sports media conglomerate in the future.
But don’t expect Barstool to set up shop in Vegas.
Barstool Sportsbook expanding across the US
During its earnings call, PNG touted the launch of its online and mobile Barstool sports betting app in Pennsylvania last year. In January, Barstool Sportsbook was unleashed on Michigan.
The next state for Barstool Sportsbook should be Illinois. Pending regulatory approval, PNG expects to launch the app just prior to March Madness.
Snowden said the Barstool Sportsbook app and retail locations will continue to expand in new states every three to five weeks this year. The ultimate goal for the company is to be operational in 10 or more states by the end of 2021.
Snowden detailed numerous states the company is targeting for Barstool Sportsbook online and retail locations:
“Given that we just did both (online sportsbook and casino) in Michigan successfully, we’ll be ready to do both in New Jersey when we go live there. Colorado, Virginia, West Virginia, Iowa, Tennessee, I think that’s probably the — the lineup there. And, you know, we’re in a spot where we’ve got an opportunities, you know, to pan out what happens and how fast Maryland moves and Louisiana moves if legislation gets going in Ohio, Massachusetts.”
Nevada is noticeably missing from the list of states PNG is considering operating Barstool Sportsbooks.
Penn National Gaming considered Las Vegas Strip
When PNG first announced its deal with Barstool Sports, it contemplated opening a Las Vegas location. The company said it wanted to open a Barstool Sportsbook but only if it would be on the Vegas Strip.
M Resort is not on the Vegas Strip. So all eyes were on Tropicana for the first Barstool Sportsbook in Nevada. While this made sense at the time, PNG doesn’t appear to be all-in anymore.
The company has had mixed emotions about Las Vegas since it purchased Tropicana in 2015. At the time, PNG was excited about the potential of a Vegas Strip property and had a vision of using it as the centerpiece of a hub-and-spoke organization for its properties.
In this model, the idea was to make Tropicana the featured property of the company. It would have been the “hub” for PNG. The casinos around the country would be “spokes” feeding into its Las Vegas business.
Don’t expect to see Barstool Sportsbooks in Las Vegas
Things changed shortly after the hub-and-spoke plan was created. Legal sports betting spread around the country changed how PNG saw its future.
It would once again be a regional casino operator using its Barstool Sports brand to help market its properties. This made the Vegas Strip property expendable.
Tropicana officially went up for sale in March 2020. The land underneath the casino was sold to Gaming & Leisure Properties Inc. just a month later for $307.5 million — $50 million less than PNG paid for the casino.
For the time being, PNG still operates the casino at Tropicana. However, it doesn’t seem as though the property is part of PNG’s future plans.
Penn National recently announced a partnership with Choice Hotels and included M Resort as one of the participating properties in the deal. The announcement, though, did not mention Tropicana.
This exclusion could be a signal to the public that PNG will be parting ways with the Las Vegas casino it once saw as the hub of its business model.
As a result, the odds of a Barstool sports betting app hitting Nevada appear slim.