Barstool Indiana’s Opening Numbers Don’t Tell The Whole Story

Barstool Sportsbook just wrapped up its first few weeks in Indiana’s market. The brand made its highly-anticipated debut on May 18.

Now that we have May’s sports betting numbers in hand, it’s time to take a deeper look at Barstool’s performance in the Hoosier State.

How did the company’s Indiana launch compare to its debuts in other states? Was Barstool a popular sportsbook option during its first month?

It all depends on what lens you’re viewing the numbers through.

Barstool Sportsbook first opened for business in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Illinois before making its way to Indiana.

At first glance, those other launches were stronger for Barstool compared to its Indiana arrival. However, there are some important factors to consider when comparing Barstool’s performance from state to state.

Barstool Sportsbook arrives in Indiana

Since Barstool started taking wagers in the middle of May, it didn’t have a full month’s worth of runway to get off the ground.

Despite that, the company still managed to rack up a $6.3 million handle. That accounted for about 2.7% of Indiana’s online sports betting wagers in May.

There are 12 online sportsbooks in Indiana right now, and Barstool is already the seventh-most popular one in the state thanks to its May performance.

That makes for an impressive start considering that the sportsbook was only taking bets for 14 days last month.

Hoosiers bet over $450,000 per day with Barstool in May. Project that over a 31-day period, and the sportsbook was on pace for a $14 million handle for a full month of operating.

Had it taken $14 million in wagers, that would have made Barstool Indiana’s fourth-most popular sportsbook.

Barstool had an impressive debut for an Indiana online betting app.

Despite that, its launch numbers appear to be flat if you compare them to other states.

However, that’s a bit misleading because of the timing of Barstool’s other launches around the country.

Barstool Sportsbook Pennsylvania launch

Barstool Sportsbook splashed onto the Pennsylvania gambling scene with its September 2020 launch.

Just like in Indiana, the sportsbook opened for business in the middle of the month. Barstool’s betting app generated $29.8 million worth of wagers during its 13-days of business.

That was good for about 9.2% of Pennsylvania’s total online handle that month, which is noticeably higher than the company’s 2.7% chunk of the handle from its Indiana premiere.

That feels like a big difference, but Barstool had a major advantage in Pennsylvania that didn’t exist in Indiana.

Pennsylvania was Barstool’s very first sports betting state. Because of that, the brand had a ton of built-up excitement over entering the gambling industry for the first time.

Being first matters, so that may have been what led to the larger popularity of Barstool’s Pennsylvania launch compared to Indiana.

Barstool launches day one in Michigan

Speaking of being first, Barstool made that a priority for its Michigan launch.

Online sports betting started in Michigan on Jan. 22, 2021. Barstool was open for business on day one in the state.

Brand recognition is a huge part of establishing a foothold in a sports betting market. Michigan gamblers had nine different sportsbooks to pick from on the first day of betting.

Most of those gamblers flocked to well-known brands like DraftKings, FanDuel, and Barstool. That left smaller companies like WynnBet and BetRivers by the wayside.

Barstool alone was responsible for 23.8% of Michigan’s online sports betting handle during that first month. That number has started to even itself out over the past few months as more companies enter the state looking to elbow their way past the competition.

For the sake of comparison, Barstool commanded a 7.6% share of Michigan’s online betting handle during May. Despite things evening out, an 23% debut market share is insane compared to Indiana’s 2.5% launch and Pennsylvania’s 9.2% mark.

It just goes to show how valuable being there on day one is for a sportsbook in a new market, especially for a well-known brand like Barstool, being there from that start made a massive difference for the company.

Illinois welcomes Barstool for March Madness

Barstool didn’t make the cut for day one of betting in Illinois, but the sportsbook still managed to launch at the perfect time. The company started taking bets on March 11, 2021. That put it in the perfect position to take advantage of March Madness.

The NCAA Tournament is one of the most popular betting events of the entire year. The event racks up a huge handle since there are so many high-profile games taking place over the course of a few weeks.

Launching just in time for March Madness gave Barstool a huge advantage. The sportsbook would go on to account for about 7.8% of the state’s entire online handle in March.

In other words, Barstool’s first-month market share was over three times as high in Illinois as it was in Indiana. That 7.6% chunk of the state’s handle was in the same ballpark as its 7% mark in Pennsylvania.

That was an impressive launch for the company, but it certainly received a huge boost from those March Madness wagers.

That’s an advantage the company just didn’t have in Indiana thanks to the timing of its launch.

Barstool Sportsbook popular in Indiana

At first glance, it seems like Barstool was much less popular during its launch month in Indiana compared to the company’s other markets.

Strictly from a numbers perspective, that’s true.

Compared to Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Illinois, Hoosiers wagered a larger percentage of their money with other companies during Barstool’s first month.

However, the advantages in those other states likely led to some inflated launch numbers.

Having its grand opening as an online sportsbook, launching on the first day of betting, and opening right before March Madness certainly helped Barstool in other markets.

Indiana just didn’t have that kind of leg up.

The only major event taking place close to Barstool’s Indiana launch was the Indianapolis 500, but the race doesn’t drum up a massive betting handle like those other situations.

All things considered, Barstool’s Indiana debut was a success. The sportsbook is already a popular brand for bettors around the state. Assuming that Barstool builds upon its first month’s numbers, it’ll likely only trail DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM in terms of handle going forward.

It’ll take some time before it can sniff a podium spot in Indiana, but Barstool has already shown its ability to immediately shoot past the middle tier of the state’s market.

As time goes on, it will become easier to evaluate the sportsbook’s long-term performance compared to the rest of the country.

Without those launch boosts altering the numbers, it won’t be long before we have the full picture for Bartsool’s performance in Indiana.

Photo by Eduard Goricev | Dreamstime
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Jake Garza

Jake Garza is a US Gambling Industry Analyst for Catena Media. He specializes in Midwest sports betting and casino content. Prior to covering the legal gambling industry, he spent time as a professional sports writer, reporting on teams such as the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Pacers. Garza is currently working as a Managing Editor for Play Indiana and PlayOhio, with previous stops at other well-known brands such as PlayIllinois and PlayMichigan. He has been covering the gambling industry since 2019, and currently works with a team of other journalists to provide comprehensive coverage of the legal U.S. gambling industry.

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