Penn National Shares Surge, Company Reveals Plans For Indiana Sportsbook Just 23 Miles From Chicago

Posted on: August 19, 2019, 12:17h. 

Last updated on: August 19, 2019, 02:00h.

Shares of Penn National Gaming, Inc. (NASDAQ:PENN) are up nearly five percent in late trading Monday after the company said that its Ameristar Casino East Chicago property in Indiana will begin taking sports bets on Sept. 1.

The gaming floor at the Ameristar East Chicago in Indiana, where sports betting will soon be available. (Image: Chicago Tribune)

Investors’ enthusiasm for Penn National stock today is likely attributable to the Ameristar venue’s proximity to Chicago, the third-largest US city. While Illinois wasn’t able to approve sports betting in enough to time have it operational for the 2019 football season, Indiana moved swiftly, and sports wagering will be live in the Hoosier State in a couple of weeks.

Penn’s East Chicago, Indiana casino is just 23.3 miles from downtown Chicago by way of US-41 and Interstate- 90.

Penn National will offer a state-of-the-art sports betting experience at Ameristar Casino East Chicago, including sports betting kiosks and ticket writer stations that will support thousands of sports betting options for its customers,” according to a statement issued by Penn National.

The rally in PENN shares today made the stock one of the best-performing domestic small caps (companies with market values of $250 million to $2 billion) on the day. Of 1,310 equities with market caps in that range, just 119 were trading higher than the regional gaming company with an hour left in Monday’s session.

Right Places, Right Time

In addition to its home state of Pennsylvania, Penn National operates casinos in a dozen other states, several of which have legalized sports betting.

On July 31, the company announced a slew of agreements with sportsbook operators and services providers, including DraftKings, PointsBet, TheScore and The Stars Group, to roll out sports wagering in states that have already approved it and to position Penn National to be ready to go in states that may sign-off on sports betting in 2020 or further down the road.

In a statement issued by Penn, the company mentioned each of DraftKings, PointsBet, TheScore and The Stars Group as partners to varying degrees in Indiana.

In addition to Ameristar East Chicago, the regional gaming firm operates the Hollywood Casino Lawrenceburg in the Hoosier State.

“Indiana will soon become the 12th state to legalize sports betting following the repeal of the federal ban last year, and our patrons in Northwest Indiana can expect an incredible sports wagering experience at our facility,” said Penn National CEO Timothy Wilmott in today’s statement.

Iowa, Too

Indiana isn’t the only Midwest state where Penn is asserting its sports betting presence. Iowa recently took its first sports wagers, and Penn National operates the Ameristar Council Bluffs there.

Between its Indiana and Iowa properties, the company can wait for neighboring Illinois to get going on sports wagering, and when the Prairie State does, Penn National is a natural beneficiary, because it is that state’s largest casino operator, with four gaming properties there.