GDC Group CEO says Barstool ‘off the map’ as possible sportsbook affiliate

Hockey penalty box
Image: Shutterstock / Eric Fahrner

One group that is quite excited for ESPN BET and Penn to hit the ground running is US affiliates. During the Q2 earnings call for Group, CEO Charles Gillespie fielded questions about the new entrant to the market and was largely positive about what it meant for the affiliate side of the industry and the industry at large.

ESPN brings more legitimacy to US sports betting

“I think, in general, it’s really positive because they’re the worldwide leader and the biggest name in sports in the United States and, now that they’ve done something, it further destigmatizes the industry. The stigma had already more or less totally washed off, but this is another very meaningful step in the right direction for the industry going fully mainstream,” he said.

During Penn’s Q2 earnings call, CEO Jay Snowden said the company planned to spend as much on marketing and acquisition outside of the ESPN deal as it did on the deal itself, which amounts to $150 million annually. When Penn was relying on Barstool Sportsbook as its flagship brand, the company notoriously did minimal work with affiliates, touting the loyalty of Stoolies as a way to keep customer acquisition costs low.

“ESPN with Penn, you know, they’re, they’re gonna have to spend a lot of money acquiring customers, as any new operator would. Especially an operator that’s set such high expectations for themselves, so clearly this means more demand for affiliate services,” Gillespie observed.

Gillespie says Barstool non-compete includes all gambling revenue

While there has not been official confirmation that the scope of the non-compete between Barstool and Penn included affiliate deals, Gillespie suggested in his comments that was the case, which is also something that he sees benefiting Group and other affiliates.

“The implications of Barstool are also pretty fascinating,” he noted. “They have essentially come off the map. They’re not supposed to take any revenue from gambling companies, so they’re not really going to be competition. So we see it as pretty universally positive and exciting.”

Big Q2 for GDC Group with NA revenue up 115%

It was a very productive Q2 for Group, with overall North American revenue up 115% YoY to $13.4 million. The company produced adjusted EBITDA of $9.4 million compared with just $3.6 million last year.

“Despite North America already being our largest reporting market, it still represents a significant growth opportunity for Group and we remain very confident in our ability to continue to increase market share in existing states as they continue to grow. This expected growth will be complemented by an overall expansion of the addressable market as new states such as North Carolina and Kentucky come online with sports betting, and iGaming is authorized in additional states,” Gillespie said in a release.

“As we continue to scale our North American operations, Group will benefit from other attractive near- and long-term growth drivers, including valuable media partnerships with leading domestic digital media publishers, McClatchy and Gannett, and the significant long-term global opportunity provided by the recently launched In addition, we are well positioned to continue growing in our more established markets where we continue to take market share and have signed our first international media partnership with The Independent for the U.K. market.”