Barstool Launches In 2 More States, But Iowa Isn’t One Of Them — Yet

Written By Russ Mitchell on August 10, 2021 - Last Updated on July 22, 2022
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Barstool Sportsbook went live in Colorado on Monday and Virginia on Tuesday.

But, when will “Stoolies” see the Barstool app in Iowa?

The answer is not anytime soon, but they should have easy access to the Iowa sports betting market if, or when its operator Penn National Gaming makes its move.

Penn National has a lease for Ameristar Casino near Omaha. Another branch of the company — Penn Interactive — operates Barstool’s digital platform and sportsbook.

The relationship gives Ameristar access to Barstool resources in Council Bluffs. But it’s Ameristar — not Barstool — that has the license to take retail sports bets in the state.

Essentially, Ameristar Council Bluffs uses Barstool branding and purchased Barstool technology but Ameristar collects wins and covers losses.

Brian Ohorilko, the administrator of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC), explained to PlayIA:

“They might help them set the lines or help them offset risk if the lines are wrong or other compliance sorts of things. It’s our understanding that Barstool is providing a lot of the support for the Ameristar team there. But Ameristar is still operating that retail book.”

Iowa still waiting for Barstool app

Barstool Sportsbook, under its digital branch Penn Interactive, could go through its own license application process. And, Ameristar Council Bluffs would be the sportsbook’s logical (required) anchor casino for an Iowa license.

But, Ohorilko said, “in Iowa, Barstool has not officially applied for any license.”

He added that Penn Interactive “has started to touch base with us and really discuss what it’s going to take to get moving.”

“What I don’t know and probably a question for Penn is if they are planning on actually bringing the Barstool brand to Iowa. As we sit here today, we have not seen anything at the commission level that would indicate that that’s what they’re going to do. And we’re obviously aware that Penn owns Barstool.”

PlayIA reached out to Penn Interactive by email but hasn’t heard back. Ameristar already uses theScore Bet for one of its three available online skins.

Revenue will drive the timing and look of any online betting app from Ameristar Council Bluffs, according to Ohorilko.

“In other words: Who is profiting from operating the sports wagering business at the facility? In some parts of the state, that answer is a sportsbook. Those companies are licensed as vendors. A good example of that would be the old William Hill (now Caesars) brand. They were licensed as vendors at a number of casinos in the state. FanDuel is licensed as a vendor at the two Diamond Jo facilities (in Waterloo and Worth County).

“So, the answer to that depends on who is is receiving the lion’s share of the revenue from the sports betting. At Ameristar, the local casino there is really on the hook for the risk … they’ll gain the profits from the sports betting. They also are responsible for paying that out.”

Ameristar has options for a sportsbook app

Ohorilko emphasized that Penn Interactive’s early contact with the IRGC isn’t automatically a harbinger for the Barstool Sports app’s arrival in Iowa. But, he added, “obviously it’s a very popular brand.”

“We are also curious as to what Penn’s plans are. We haven’t reached out to them in terms of asking them. It’s really a business decision that they need to make.”

Keep in mind, Penn National Gaming acquired theScore on Aug. 5. That transaction could impact Penn’s plans in Council Bluffs as well.

Licensing is a three-to-six month process for sportsbooks in Iowa. Ohorilko thinks the process would be fairly quick for Barstool as an established sportsbook in other states.

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Russ Mitchell

Russ Mitchell has been covering news and sports in northwest Iowa since 1997, including 11 years as managing editor for one of the most acclaimed community newspapers in the state. He looks forward to keeping readers up to date on the growing sportsbook industry in Iowa.

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