It’s always money in Philadelphia. Or so it seems.
Phillies? World Series.
Union? MLS Cup.
Eagles? Playing the Chiefs in Super Bowl 57 on Sunday.
Philadelphia’s latest sports lounge, the high-end Bankroll on Chestnut Street in Center City, will open just in time to capture some of the euphoria, opening the doors on Sunday to 400 investors and VIPs to what owner Paul Martino promises will be a unique experience. Martino, an early FanDuel investor who founded Bullpen Capital, is bringing a growing national trend to the former Boyd Theater: a sportsbook lounge that’s a lot like a sportsbook. The invite-only Sunday event will be followed by a public opening next week.
“I’m an entrepreneur. This is my eighth startup company. There’s an old saying in our business, you’d rather be lucky than good,” Martino from the restaurant during pre-launch prep. “We had to be good to stay open and get ready and put the money together and get it built. But having the Eagles get to the Super Bowl, that’s the better-lucky-than-good part.”
Granted, none of those Philadelphia teams have actually hoisted a trophy despite this over-indulgence of sports success. That has dampened brotherly love for the ride, Martino said.
“This has been nonstop since the end of October. We’ve never seen anything like this in Philadelphia,” Martino said. “It’s the happiest I’ve ever seen the city in my entire life.”
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It will look very much like one, but Bankroll isn’t one and doesn’t have to be.
With sports betting mobile and online in Pennsylvania, patrons are free to wager with whatever sportsbook they wish while lounging on a leather couch or lingering in front of a massive television. There are no layers of regulatory scrutiny for Martino and his partners, and there’s no stigma of taking hanging out in a sportsbook for anyone who might be put off but such things. It can be anything one wants it to be, if they’re willing to pay for the experience.
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“I think it’s a remarkably different experience than hanging out with the bros at the Barstool Bar.”
Barstool opened a sports bar in Center City last spring, but Martino doesn’t consider it as competition because he sees Bankroll going after a different customer.
“We’re just really going after a different person,” he said. “Barstool is probably a bro-ier crowd. We’re going to have a lot of people who work at the local law firms and some of the lawyers and doctors, et cetera, will be in town. Obviously a lot of our investors. We have ticketed seating. Our venue, you can purchase the seats just like you do in the stadium. So the premier seats are purchased in advance. I think it’s a remarkably different experience than hanging out with the bros at the Barstool Bar.”
Even still, Philadelphians are Philadelphians, and investors or not, isn’t there the risk Bankroll night need some drywall repair if things don’t go well – or actually do – on Sunday?
“Oh, you have such little faith in Philadelphia fans,” Martino laughed. “I’m actually quite optimistic though, being that it was recent that we won [Super Bowl LII], I expect a slightly more subdued crowd. That’s my guess. I just don’t think it will rise to the level of what most people will think of as a Philadelphia fan.”