Penn National CEO Snowden Says Company Capturing Younger Demographic, Sports Betting Taking Off

Posted on: November 11, 2020, 09:43h. 

Last updated on: November 11, 2020, 10:00h.

Penn National Gaming (NASDAQ:PENN) CEO Jay Snowden says visitation and length of play trends as the company reopened casinos over the past six months are showing signs of stability. That’s while the operator is proving adept at luring younger patrons.

Jay Snowden
Penn National CEO Jay Snowden says the company is attracting younger gamblers to its casinos. (Image: Fox Business)

Penn operates 41 gaming properties across 19 states, including the M Resort and Tropicana in Las Vegas. But Wall Street’s affinity for the name is derived from its status as a regional operator and its flourishing sports betting operation by way of a partnership with Barstool Sports.

What’s been so staggering to me is how stable the trends are from a visitation standpoint, from a length of play standpoint,” said Snowden in an interview with CNBC this morning.

He adds that traffic attributable to younger generations at the company’s properties is increasing because of a dearth of other entertainment options, such as concerts and live sports. He added that’s while older demographics are holding off on visiting Penn casinos. Snowden said that when analyzing the 55-and-up age group, data indicates visitation is off 30 percent, and that the theme is “really pronounced” in the over 65 demographic.

Those statistics aren’t surprising when considering medical professionals established that seniors are more vulnerable to contracting the coronavirus than younger people. While progress is being made, there still isn’t a vaccine on the market today.

Fresh Audience, Vaccine Bets

On Monday, gaming equities, including Penn, rallied after Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX) said their BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccine showed a 90 percent efficacy rate. That’s with minimal side effects in a Phase 3 clinical trial.

That indicates that once a vaccine is widely available, the gaming industry could finally benefit from the often-discussed, yet-to-materialize pent-up demand that’s been a talking point over the course of the pandemic. Prior to the coronavirus, analysts and industry observers speculated that old guard brick-and-mortar casino operators were struggling to connect with younger, tech-savvy generations, including millennials and Gen Z.

However, Penn is proving otherwise, and is primed to benefit as older demographics get back in the game after a COVID-19 treatment is accessible.

“So it’s a new audience for us, and once the vaccine is widely available and/or there’s effective treatments for COVID, I think what you’re going to see is that 55-plus and particular the 65-plus age demo feel more comfortable leaving the home more often, coming back to the casino,” said Snowden.

Clean Sweep Comments

In the CNBC interview, Snowden also discussed the Nov. 3 electoral outcomes as it pertains to the gaming industry, noting it was a “clean sweep,” as all six expanded gaming and sports betting initiatives easily passed on Election Day.

“What was really interesting is not just that it was a clean sweep, but you look at the voting differential of those that voted in favor of, versus against the legalization of sports betting, as an example. Like in Maryland, over 65 percent of the vote came out to be ‘yes,’” he said.

The Penn CEO pointed out that other states could look at those margins and consider signing off on sports wagering, too.

As for Penn’s Election Day benefits, the operator could get a boost from the sports betting votes in Louisiana and Maryland, as well as the decision to remove the $100 per hand bet limit on table games in Colorado. The company runs properties in the Centennial and Pelican States.