What PENN Deal With ESPN Means For Barstool In Iowa

Written By Dan Holmes on August 11, 2023 - Last Updated on November 18, 2023
Barstool Sportsbook will now be ESPN Bet in Iowa

Many heads are spinning at the news that PENN Entertainment has entered into an agreement to launch a sportsbook named ESPN Bet. The entrance of ESPN as a brand in the sports betting world could be a game changer in the industry.

What does this mean for sports bettors in Iowa?

And how does it impact Barstool Sportsbook?

Barstool Sportsbook will be replaced by ESPN Bet

Barstool Sportsbook became an Iowa online sports betting operator in November 2021. It is in the top third of Iowa sportsbooks in total handle, though well behind major operators like DraftKings Sportsbook Iowa, FanDuel Sportsbook Iowa, and BetMGM Sportsbook Iowa.

In its second-quarter earnings report on Wednesday, PENN Entertainment, which owns Barstool Sportsbook, announced that it will divest itself of that asset and return it to founder Dave Portnoy. As a result, Barstool Sportsbook will be no more. According to PENN CEO Jay Snowden, Barstool will be shut off later this summer or early fall.

ESPN and PENN have reached a 10-year agreement to offer ESPN Bet, which will replace Barstool Sportsbook in the 16 states where PENN is operating that brand. Snowden predicted that the new ESPN Bet Iowa could be available “before Thanksgiving.”

That means for Iowa customers of Barstool Sportsbook, it’s time to start seeking a new option. No date has been set for the official switch, but it’s likely to follow a timeline something like this:

  • Date set for last bets accepted through Barstool Sportsbook.
  • Date set for customers to withdraw any funds from their Barstool account.
  • Announcement made from PENN on whether customers of Barstool Sportsbook will be automatically migrated to ESPN Bet. If not, consumers would need to create a new account at some point.
  • Official launch date of ESPN Bet revealed. Typically, a testing period occurs, and some consumers may be able to place bets ahead of the launch.
  • Promo offers for ESPN Bet could appear a week or more before launch date, encouraging consumers to register early.

Begin planning now

If you’re a Barstool Sportsbook Iowa customer, it’s wise to begin planning your future betting strategy. That might lead you to download and register with other sports betting apps, such as FanDuel Sportsbook Iowa, Bet365 Sportsbook Iowa, BetMGM Sportsbook Iowa, BetRivers Sportsbook Iowa, or other legal options in the state.

Most Iowa sportsbook bonuses and betting offers come from opening a new account in the state. As a result, the transition from Barstool could be advantageous. Those operators also offer a slew of features that you may not have found with Barstool.

If you’re a fan of the Barstool brand, you’ll be able to follow and interact with its content in the future. The company was sold back to Portnoy, who announced he would “never sell Barstool” and had plans to continue its podcasts and other ventures. A Barstool betting app, however, will not be in the cards. A condition of the sale from PENN was that Portnoy cannot enter that brand name back into the sports betting world.

Barstool sportsbook at Ameristar Council Bluffs

Through a partnership with Ameristar Council Bluffs, Barstool has a retail sportsbook inside the casino. After speaking with Ameristar Council Bluffs, they confirmed with PlayIA that the retail sportsbook is currently still open and plans to remain open.

The retail sportsbook recently went through renovations and offers guests six sports wagering terminals along with ten betting kiosks and 50 HDTV’s.

With the new renovation, it doesn’t sound like the retail sportsbook is going anywhere anytime soon. Our guess is that the retail sportsbook will transition over to ESPN Bet when the time comes.

Competition will benefit sports bettors in Iowa

With ESPN Bet likely coming to Iowa in November, Iowans will have another option for finding the best NFL odds, NBA odds, MLB odds, and odds for other sporting events. It should also provide potentially lucrative offers in the form of promotional offers.

The total handle from sports betting in Iowa for fiscal year 2022-2023 topped $2 billion. Online sportsbooks accounted for more than 90% of that figure. It’s a healthy market, which can only benefit from increased competition.

Consumers typically suffer when there’s a lack of choices. But that’s not the case in The Hawkeye State, which has 19 sportsbooks. Some users will mourn the exit of Barstool Sportsbook, but the growing sports betting market is bound to experience flux in the form of mergers, shuffling of brands, and whittling of the field.

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Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes writes about sports betting, sports media, and sports betting legislative matters. He's the author of three books, and previously reported for Major League Baseball, as well as the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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