Flourishing in its home nation since the debut of the Ontario iGaming market in April, theScore alerted customers on Wednesday that it will discontinue its U.S. sports betting operations effective July 1.
With the closure, theScore will shift focus to accelerating its growth in Ontario and expanding its technology roadmap north of the U.S. border, with the ultimate goal of migrating Barstool Sportsbook onto the company’s in-house risk and trading platform in the relatively near future.
The move comes nearly eight months after Penn National Gaming completed a $2.1 billion cash-and-stock acquisition of theScore. While Penn asserted at the time that it sought to operate theScore as a standalone business, Wednesday’s move allows theScore to strategically deploy resources in Canada, where it ranks as the nation’s most popular sports media app.
Since the acquisition was announced last August, Penn has taken a bifurcated approach to expanding sports betting operations in North America, with Barstool taking the lead in the U.S., while theScore Bet remains out in front up in Canada.
“This move enables us to maximize the value of both brands through our organic media and gaming approach. Key to our strategy is integrating theScore media app with Barstool Sportsbook, which we’re currently working towards,” Benjie Levy, president and COO of theScore, told Sports Handle. “Bringing together theScore’s powerful mobile sports media platform with Barstool Sportsbook in a unified ecosystem, supported by our in-house technology and custom integrations, will strengthen the overall U.S. product offering and broaden its reach.”
When theScore made its U.S. sports betting debut in New Jersey three years ago, it became the first media company since the historic PASPA decision to launch sportsbook operations in the U.S.
Following the New Jersey debut, theScore began accepting sports wagers in three other states: Colorado, Iowa, and Indiana. The company also disclosed on Wednesday that by June 15, theScore Bet will no longer accept customer deposits or new wagers in the U.S.
By the time theScore plans to fully cease its U.S. sports betting operations, both the NBA and the NHL are scheduled to complete their respective postseason campaigns. The NHL’s Edmonton Oilers opened Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday against the Colorado Avalanche, the Oilers’ first trip to the conference finals since 2006.
Although it appears that theScore will encourage U.S. customers to open a new account at Barstool, it is not currently possible for customers of theScore to transfer their account or remaining balance with theScore over to Barstool Sportsbook, according to a source familiar with the situation. It is also immediately unclear if the respective sports betting skins theScore obtained to gain market access in the four states will transfer automatically to Penn National.
But the transition could be smooth in states such as Iowa, where theScore received market access through a partnership with Penn.
Larger industry consolidation
In the same month (August) that theScore announced the proposed merger with Penn, theScore launched its own player account management (PAM) trading and promotion engine.
During the third quarter of this year, theScore Bet plans to transition to the company’s proprietary in-house risk and trading platform in Ontario, Penn previously disclosed. The transition will lead to expanded betting markets and parlay options, Penn National Gaming CEO Jay Snowden explained at last month’s quarterly earnings call.
Penn anticipates that Barstool Sportsbook will transition to theScore’s PAM and trading platforms by the third quarter of 2023.
Over the first month of sports betting operations in Ontario, roughly 79% of sports bettors used theScore’s app, Snowden noted. All told, theScore exceeded Penn’s early expectations with its performance in Ontario, underscoring Snowden’s belief in the brand a year ago.
“A large part of what we love about Barstool and theScore is their authentic voice, their scrappy nature, and their entrepreneurial spirit,” Snowden said in 2021.
Beyond theScore, the decision may serve as a harbinger for a larger pattern of consolidation across the industry. The top three mobile sportsbook operators in the U.S., DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM, control at least 70% of the overall market share, according to various estimates.
By forging strategic partnerships, companies such as Penn National Gaming and theScore are able to carve out a niche across various segments of the North American market. In 2021, Penn projected adjusted EBITDA accretion of at least $200 million by 2023, with incremental long-term synergies of at least $500 million from the partnership. In M&A transactions, accretive acquisitions are defined as those which cause the company’s earnings to increase as a result of the deal.
“As we approach a major undertaking this summer with the launch of our proprietary risk and trading service, the timing is right to focus our U.S. efforts on marketing Barstool Sportsbook and our Canadian efforts on marketing theScore Bet,” Levy said.