PENN Entertainment felt it made a milestone deal when it announced its partnership with ESPN last August.
Moving from Barstool to the ESPN/Hollywood Casino label, PENN is hoping its online brand can compete with the top names in online gambling.
If November’s online operator numbers are any indication, PENN could be on to something.
ESPN BET scores near record handle
While the new branding only took hold for the second half of the month, the online sportsbook for Hollywood Casino at Greektown put up big numbers.
Between ESPN BET and Barstool, they drew $49.9 million in online handle last month. It was the highest total PENN has drawn in Michigan since January 2022, coming up short of a new record by less than $1 million.
PENN finished fourth in the state’s handle race in November for the first time since April.
The online sports betting revenue was a new record by more than $1 million, as the combo generated $6.1 million in revenue. It marked the first time PENN’s online sportsbook crossed $5 million in monthly revenue.
ESPN BET is likely largely responsible for these impressive numbers, as the adjusted gross revenue was -$10.1 million. That means that between promotions and free bets, the online operator actually gave up $16.2 million more than its gross revenue.
Promo dollars and free wagers are always part of any launch. It will be interesting to see if customers decided to stick with ESPN BET in December. They’ve already drawn some criticism for their parlay policy, negating the entire parlay for a leg that pushes.
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Hollywood Casino sees promising start
Along with the launch of ESPN BET on Nov. 14, PENN also launched Hollywood Casino Online in Michigan.
It led to $4.1 million in November online casino revenue, which was the highest mark since Barstool hit $4.3 million in March.
Hollywood Casino doesn’t quite carry the brand recognition that ESPN BET does, nor has the online casino seen the media and advertising push as its sportsbook counterpart.
Despite that, November was still an encouraging number for PENN, as Barstool had fallen to a bottom-half online casino in Michigan over stretches of 2023.
What’s next for PENN is trying to outdo its December 2022 revenue.
Throughout 2023, its monthly revenue has been less than the same month in 2022. November was a close call, with just a $145,533 difference.
As PENN puts more into the Hollywood Casino product, it should see that trend chance. Perhaps as soon as December.
Hollywood Casino is likely to see a tougher road to become a top-five Michigan online casino compared to ESPN BET’s efforts to be a top-five Michigan online sportsbook.
It has a much bigger gap to close while getting less promotional push from PENN.