Barstool Sportsbook at Phoenix Raceway ‘Doesn’t Make Sense Right Now,’ Seems Far Off on Horizon

A retail Barstool Sportsbook at Phoenix Raceway is on indefinite hold, NASCAR managing director of sports betting Joe Solosky told Gaming Today.

Crucial in whether it ever happens is PENN Entertainment — Barstool’s parent company — deciding if the potential business it could generate would be worth the cost of construction at the Avondale facility on the west side of the Phoenix metro area. Even then, Arizona bettors will have all of Barstool’s competitors in hand in a state with mobile and online sports betting options.

“Right now it just doesn’t make sense to build out that retail book at the racetrack,” Solosky said.

Photo: Ross D. Franklin Associated Press; Illustration by Brant James

“In our selecting a partner for Arizona, we did want to have that option available for [a retail sportsbook at the track] if it made sense for us and for them,” Solosky explained. “However, we just haven’t advanced on those conversations in probably the last year or so.”

Phoenix has hosted the NASCAR championship weekend since 2020 and will through 2024, but two race weekends a year can’t sustain a retail sportsbook on the edge of a metro area with horrendous traffic and betting available on cellphones.

Solosky said having more events at the track, “which will lead to more foot traffic and events that are suited towards sports betting,” are important for PENN.

“I think that’s when the market economics would make sense for someone like a PENN to invest in a retail sportsbook,” Solosky said. “As a partner, we’re not going to rush someone into building something that would not make economic sense and hurt the partnership.”

Construction never began. According to the Gaming Today sports betting revenue tracker, Barstool accounts for around 5% of Arizona’s mobile market share and has never been more than 10% since launching in March 2021.

Barstool did not respond to emails seeking comment from Gaming Today.

Pro Sports Venues with Sportsbooks Abound in Phoenix

Other sports betting partners and pro franchises have been more aggressive in Phoenix, with venues brandishing greater volumes of events and central locations.

FanDuel maintains a full-time retail sportsbook at Footprint Center, which houses the Phoenix Suns (NBA) and Mercury (WNBA). Caesars runs a retail book adjacent to Chase Field, home of the Diamondbacks (MLB), and BetMGM’s shop near the NFL Cardinals’ State Farm Stadium venue in February became the first on-grounds for a Super Bowl site.

The PGA Tour plans to open a DraftKings retail sportsbook — the series’ first — at TPC Scottsdale this fall. While the golf course, like Phoenix Raceway, doesn’t offer the professional slate of events of its Phoenix team sports peers, its availability to play for recreational duffers and proximity to an affluent Phoenix neighborhood are advantageous.

The DraftKings sportsbook is under construction, and the brand was a center of attention at the Phoenix Open earlier this year, said PGA Tour vice president of gaming Scott Warfield.

“The benefit we have is that our arena is a public golf course and 90,000 rounds a year are played at TPC Scottsdale,” Warfield said. “The WM Phoenix Open is our most well-attended event. It’s unlike anything else and people call it the ‘People’s Open,’ so it is the perfect fit for something like this. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to wake up and see a sportsbook at every PGA Tour event.

“But certainly the WM Open, a public course, 90,000 rounds, to be able to put a DraftKings Sportsbook in between the two championship golf courses, I think it’s going to end up being a global golf destination.”

Could Phoenix Decision Scuttle a Sportsbook at North Carolina Racetrack?

The Phoenix Raceway outcome could impact decision-making in a coveted new NASCAR sports betting market.

North Carolina sports betting was legalized on June 14 and is expected to launch in 2024, with certain pro sports venues eligible to open sportsbooks. Among them are Charlotte Motor Speedway and North Wilkesboro Speedway, which host NASCAR’s Cup Series races. NASCAR subsidiary International Speedway Corp. owns Phoenix Raceway, but decisions about the two North Carolina tracks would be made by Speedway Motorsports Inc., the proprietor of both.

While North Wilkesboro is a small track in a rural area, CMS is snug in Charlotte’s urban sprawl, near an SMI drag strip, large mall, and a music pavilion.

“It’s hard to say, and I can’t speak for SMI,” Solosky told Gaming Today. “We haven’t really talked to them about their plans in the sports betting space. I’ve seen that Betway has signage at the track, which is great.

“I don’t know about their efforts on building a retail book, but it’s in a highly trafficked, obviously highly populated area, so it would make sense.”

Especially if NASCAR betting can follow the trajectory the PGA Tour has noted this season in regard to tournament attendees making legal wagers on their phones. Nineteen of NASCAR’s top series races are held in states with mobile sports betting legal underway, including playoff races in Arizona, Kansas, Nevada, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Read More: 

About the Author
Brant James

Brant James

Senior Writer
Brant James is a senior writer who covers the sports betting industry and legislation at Gaming Today. An alum of the Tampa Bay Times, ESPN.com, espnW, SI.com, and USA Today, he's covered motorsports and the NHL as beats. He also once made a tail-hook landing on an aircraft carrier with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and rode to the top of Mt. Washington with Travis Pastrana. John Tortorella has yelled at him numerous times.

Get connected with us on Social Media