NJ sports betting is eventually coming to Freehold Raceway.

Though figuring out when is the tricky part.

Around this time last year, executives connected to the Monmouth County-based racetrack publicly stated that serious discussions were underway.

More than a week after Super Bowl 54, there is nothing new to report.

Or is there?

Hypothetically speaking, what if Freehold Raceway is the future home of a Barstool Sports sportsbook?

The racetrack is co-owned by Penn National Gaming and Greenwood Racing. 

In late January, Penn National announced it had acquired a 36% stake in the controversial media outlet.

Sports wagering is clearly part of the plans.

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NJ sports betting market is hard to ignore

Looking at the 20 markets that were offering legalized sports wagering in 2019, the Garden State was one of the biggest.

The American Gaming Association reported that a record $13 billion was legally wagered in the US last year. And, NJ is No. 2 on the list:

  1. Nevada: $5.3 billion 
  2. New Jersey: $4.6 billion
  3. Pennsylvania:  $1.5 billion
  4. Indiana: $436 million
  5. Mississippi: $369 million

Plus, online sports betting continues to set the bar for other jurisdictions. In December alone, $488.9 million of the NJ bets came via the 17 sports betting apps. It adds up to 88% of the total wagers.

So, when the Barstool Sports betting app launches, being live in NJ seems like a no-brainer.

The Barstool Sports betting app plans

The Barstool sportsbook app is still in its preliminary stages. According to the press release, Penn Interactive is focusing on “what we anticipate will be a best-in-class sports betting app.”

The anticipated launch is in the third quarter of 2020.

Jon Kaplowitz, head of Penn Interactive, elaborates on the plans:

“Our team is excited to begin collaborating with Barstool Sports on ways to utilize its key talent and leading content to drive audiences to Penn National’s online gaming products and retail locations, as well as to special events and fan experiences.”

As a media company, Barstool Sports has 66 million monthly unique visitors, so there is an established audience familiar with the brand.

Erika Nardini, CEO of Barstool Sports, shares a similar vision.

“… Over the last five years, Barstool Sports has brought its audience, creativity and expertise to the biggest sports betting and DFS operators in the country with great results,” said Nardini.

“The chance to combine our content and fans with Penn National’s massive footprint, and to develop a unique and compelling omni-channel approach together was, for us, a no-brainer.”

Freehold Raceway still needs a license

NJ bettors should remain calm.

For one, Penn National does not operate an Atlantic City casino. Secondly, Freehold still needs to be approved to offer NJ sports betting.

If and when they get a license, the Barstool brand would have its entry point. Since Freehold has already missed out on two seasons of NFL betting, big-name recognition is needed to attract customers.

Monmouth Park, home to one of three William Hill NJ sportsbooks, is less than 20 miles away.

Meadowlands Racetrack has a land-based partnership with the industry-leading FanDuel Sportsbook.

The other thing to consider is the Freehold racing dates are primarily Fridays and Saturdays. So, adding a retail sports betting operation would result in fewer off-nights.

Until there is some official announcement, we have nothing new to report. But we also wouldn’t be surprised to see a Barstool Sportsbook in NJ someday.

Bill Gelman

About

Bill Gelman is a veteran sports writer based just outside of Philadelphia and not too far from the Jersey Shore. Bill spends time in Atlantic City writing about casino openings and expansions, special events and world championship boxing at Boardwalk Hall. He is now adding NJ sports betting and online gambling to the mix.