Penn National Looks to the North with $2B Acquisition of Score Media

Purchase of Canadian sports media and betting giant complements Penn National’s existing sports properties, including Barstool.
Penn National Looks to the North with $2B Acquisition of Score Media
By
October 21, 2021

In a move with possible international implications, Penn National Gaming (PNG) announced the acquisition of a major player in the Canadian sports media scene. Score Media and Gaming Inc., known commercially as theScore, is the most popular sports media app in Canada’s digital sports landscape, and the acquisition by PNG gives that company a presence north of the border.

In a deal worth $2 billion in cash and stock, Toronto-based theScore is now part of the PNG umbrella. That gives Penn a foot in the door of the Canadian sports media market, as well as a possible head start in the still-developing online betting market in Canada.

Score Media is widely known in the Canadian sports media market as the go-to app for sports and betting information on the move. The company’s mobile app is the most popular sports media app in Canada and will almost certainly be one of the early leaders in the future online betting space.

PNG may well be just as interested in the Canadian company’s American footprint, however. In addition to the Canadian scene, Score Media is currently live as a betting platform in multiple US states, so this latest acquisition gives PNG another avenue into the US sports betting landscape to complement its existing partnership with Barstool Sports.

A new northern frontier?

There is little question that PNG has an eye on the burgeoning sports betting market to the north.

While Canada has technically had sports betting for a long time, prior to August 27 of this year, the laws only allowed betting on at least three events or games at a time.

Several Canadian provinces have long allowed parlay bets at retail outlets, where bettors need to correctly pick all three outcomes to win the bet. The recent change to the national regulations allowed single-event betting for the first time, but it didn’t actually change anything on the ground.

Gambling operations in Canada are administered provincially, though federal legislation provides the general guidelines within which provinces have to operate.

The August 27 federal change paved the way for provinces to regulate single-event sports betting, and the provincial agencies have been moving quickly to implement the new national rules.

Score Media is perfectly placed for PNG to get a foothold in that growing market. While Canada has 10 provinces, Ontario is the elephant in the room, with nearly 40% of the population of Canada in that one province. With its HQ in Toronto and its tight integration into the existing Ontario sports scene, it is easy to see why the company came onto PNG’s radar.

It surely doesn’t hurt that Score Media already has a functioning betting platform, live in four US states—New Jersey, Colorado, Indiana and Iowa. That will mean that as third-party apps are allowed into Canadian markets, PNG will have a ready-made product to deploy with a brand that Canadians already recognize.

Two sportsbooks under one roof

The acquisition of Score Media adds a second sportsbook to PNG’s portfolio. The company was already partnered with Barstool Sports, but company PR sees the dual sportsbooks as partners more than competitors.

While the Canadian market is certainly one of the goals for PNG here, USBets points to some possible technical reasons for PNG’s interest as well. Among the technical aspects of Score Media’s platform are risk and account management services that might also be useful for Barstool.

“Adding theScore’s fully integrated media and betting platform and cutting-edge technology will further strengthen Penn National’s existing ecosystem and ability to seamlessly serve its customers,” Penn National CEO Jay Snowden said.

This new acquisition gives Penn National a strong Canadian sports brand as the new sports betting landscape in Canada evolves. That Score Media also has a solid sportsbook operation with a track record in the US is surely a bonus, and Score Media does seem perfectly placed to hit the ground running when all the provincial kinks are worked out in Ontario and other provinces.

With the extra bonus of technical innovation that it can apply to existing operations at Barstool, the deal seems like a win-win-win. For its part, Score Media will no doubt benefit from the access to US markets PNG grants it, so it seems clear everyone gets something out of this deal.

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