NFL season opener juices sports-betting stocks

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Sports-betting operators Caesars Entertainment Inc., Draftkings Inc. and Penn National Gaming Inc., were charging higher Thursday as investors readied for the start of the NFL season.

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The NFL’s kickoff provides a boost to an industry that was brought to a standstill in March after COVID-19 lockdowns put the sports world into a timeout. While the MLB, NBA, NHL and other sports leagues have already restarted, the NFL is by far the most heavily bet on.

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"While we continue to expect DKNG and FanDuel to be leaders in the online betting space given their first-mover advantages," Penn National has the potential to be close behind after reaching a $163 million deal to acquire a 36% stake in Barstool Sports in January, wrote Rosenblatt Securities analyst Bernie McTernan, according to The Street. He initiated Penn coverage with a "buy" rating and Wall Street-high $80 price target.

Penn's stake, which will be increased to about 50% in three years, gives Penn the “potential to gain significant share in online betting” due to Barstool’s “differentiated customer acquisition strategy,” McTernan said.


Competition is fierce between the two. Draftkings recently inked a deal with NBA legend Michael Jordan as an investor and advisor, a move which was dissed by Barstool Sports founder David Portnoy.

"It’s a splashy move, but unless they are taking his action, he’s a notorious gambler, I don’t think it's going to help their profitability by any sense," Portnoy told FOX Business earlier this month.

Penn National is set to debut its Barstool Sportsbook mobile app in Pennsylvania from Sept. 15 to Sept. 17. The app will officially launch on Sept. 18, pending approval from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

Caesars was last year named the NFL’s first official casino sponsor and Draftkings became the official daily fantasy partner.


An estimated 33.2 million Americans will wager on the NFL this season, according to a survey conducted by the American Gaming Association. The AGA estimated before 2015 that Americans spent $95 billion betting on football that year. Sports betting is expected to grow in popularity after being legalized in a number of U.S. states.

The AGA estimates 34% of gamblers will place wagers online either through legal or illegal channels, 20% will wager at sportsbooks and 26% will bet through fantasy football and pools with friends.

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