Penn National Gaming Takes Checkers as First Official Gaming Partner of NASCAR

Posted on: February 8, 2020, 07:08h. 

Last updated on: February 9, 2020, 10:14h.

Penn National Gaming continues adding to its burgeoning sports betting empire, announcing Friday that it’s entering a deal with NASCAR to become the stock car racing association’s authorized gaming provider. It marks the operator’s first partnership with a professional sports league.

Penn National lands its first gaming deal with a pro sports league thanks to a NASCAR agreement. (Image: Autoweek)

NASCAR’s agreement with Penn was revealed barely more than a week before the Daytona 500, the first tilt of the 2020 season and the so-called “Super Bowl of racing.”

Penn’s deal with the racing association centers around a new, free-to-play, mobile game called NASCAR Finish Line. That gives participants the chance to win $50,000 during each of the sport’s 36 races.

The free-to-play NASCAR Finish Line mobile game will be available ahead of the Daytona 500 across iOS and Android phones and tablets, and can be downloaded on the App Store and Google Play store,” according to a statement. “Players can win the $50,000 jackpot by accurately predicting the race winner and the highest finishers across six different groupings of six drivers.”

Financial terms of the accord weren’t revealed. But as part of the pact, Penn’s sponsorship of the “Hollywood Casino 400” at Kansas Speedway has been extended through 2020. Hollywood is one of several brands the gaming company operates casinos under.

Precursor to Sports Betting?

Last year, NASCAR revealed a sports betting product being developed in conjunction with Genius Sports, indicating the racing association is embracing sports wagering.

The association is looking to in-race wagering as an avenue for boosting fan engagement and grabbing a larger slice of the US sports betting pie. Historically, auto racing resides in the “other” category at sportsbooks, trailing the dollars bet on football, basketball and baseball by massive margins.

Additionally, many Las Vegas sportsbooks usually confine their NASCAR betting menu to race winner, most laps led, and a small smattering of head-to-head match ups.

Last year, NASCAR tested a live betting concept for the South Point 400 in Las Vegas that allowed gamblers at specific casinos in Iowa, Mississippi, and New York, in addition to Nevada, to place in-race wagers.

Ties to the Industry

While some professional sports leagues have gently waded into betting waters, NASCAR – one of the most sponsorship-driven leagues in the US – has never been squeamish about allowing gaming companies to have title roles in races.

In addition to the Hollywood 400 and the South Point 400, FireKeepers Casino sponsors a race by the same name in Michigan, while Connecticut’s Foxwoods is the title sponsor of the competition at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

NASCAR’s 36 points-accruing races are held in 20 states, six of which currently have operational sports betting. Illinois is likely to become the seventh soon after the 2020 season starts.

Of those seven states, Penn National operates gaming venues in four – Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, and Pennsylvania.