As part of this week’s Q1 financial report, Penn National Gaming has updated investors on its long term growth strategy and the ways in which it has managed the business during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

President and CEO Jay Snowden said that during the mandated closures of Penn’s properties, the firm’s management team has undertaken a comprehensive reevaluation of its corporate and property operating structures to improve efficiencies. He added that the company is exploring new technologies and innovations that could help reimagine its casinos and enhance the guest experience. 

Snowden stated: “We are also in the process of making meaningful upgrades to expand the reach of our industry-leading mychoice loyalty program. We expect the mychoice program to be a powerful tool for our omni-channel strategy, and we are taking steps to connect our land-based casinos to our sports betting and icasino products to offer customers a compelling incentive to consolidate play across our various platforms. 

“This omni-channel approach will be bolstered by the broad appeal of Barstool Sports, and we look forward to attracting Barstool fans to our casinos through special events and talent appearances once the virus has subsided.”

He continued: “While our operating team has been busy reconfiguring our casinos for a post-COVID-19 world, our interactive team has been hard at work laying the foundation for future growth online. 

“We have been able to continue the development of our Barstool Sportsbook app and remain on schedule for launch in the third quarter of 2020 on what we anticipate will be a more level playing field with our competitors given the extended absence of major live sports in the months leading up to our launch. 

“Our team of engineers is creating a best-in-class sports betting product, and the Barstool brand, loyal audience and marketing engine will help drive meaningful market share as the product is introduced across our database of 20 million casino customers and Barstool’s audience of over 66 million fans.”

According to Snowden, the past several weeks have also reinforced Penn’s investment thesis in Barstool Sports. “Despite the lack of live sporting events, Barstool has continued to create highly entertaining content in recent weeks, with blog traffic increasing over 20% in April, video views up over 50% and social media accounts seeing meaningful growth,” he said. 

“In addition, Barstool has shown continued success in utilizing emerging platforms to expand its reach, including explosive growth on TikTok and the introduction of live video game streaming on Twitch. Barstool’s highly diverse and engaging content is proving to be more relevant than ever in the key demographics we will be targeting, and we continue to believe Barstool’s growing, loyal audience will lead to meaningful reductions in customer acquisition and promotional costs for our sports betting product.”

The CEO added that while Penn National’s overall first quarter results were mixed due to the coronavirus, Penn Interactive had a notably strong first quarter, beating budgeted revenue and EBITDA despite the loss of retail sportsbook revenue for most of March. “That momentum has carried into the second quarter, with Penn Interactive experiencing significant growth in users and revenue for both its social and real money gaming products,” he noted.

Snowden concluded: “Penn National is the only operator in the US with a large, geographically diversified land-based gaming footprint, a well-known sports brand, a fully aligned marketing partner and a wholly-owned sports betting and icasino subsidiary. While the last several weeks have been challenging for the company, our team members and the entire industry, we remain firmly convinced of the long-term potential of our highly differentiated omni-channel approach.”