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Penn National at Record as Barstool Sportsbook Opens in Illinois

Penn National Gaming rose to a record after Illinois officials allowed its online sports betting app, Barstool Sportsbook, to begin operating.
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Penn National Gaming  (PENN)  shares rose to a record on Thursday after Illinois gambling officials allowed its online sports betting app, Barstool Sportsbook, to begin operation at 1 pm U.S. Eastern.

Barstool Sportsbook is launching in Illinois "just as the college basketball regular season wraps up and bettors begin their preparations for March Madness,” Penn National Chief Executive Jay Snowden said in a statement.

Penn National expects to offer a number of promotional bets during the launch, including odds boosts on the Cubs and White Sox to win the 2021 World Series, a $1,000 risk-free bet after an initial deposit, and an array of wagering options related to the upcoming college basketball tournament.

Penn National recently traded at $128.30, up 4%, and earlier touched its all-time peak of $130.74. It has doubled in the past six months, as people stuck at home during the COVID pandemic took to online gambling.

Penn National is the country’s largest regional casino owner, with 41 properties across 19 states.

Last month, Founder Jim Cramer recommended buying Penn National on the dip, saying he remains a “gigantic believer” in the company.

In January, with the stock trading under $100, Credit Suisse initiated coverage of Penn National with an outperform rating and a Wall-Street-high price target of $128 a share.

Analyst Benjamin Chaiken acted on Penn National's pandemic-related savings, where the company reformatted its business during the coronavirus shutdown, incrementally widening its margins.

"We see meaningful opportunities for cost savings from the Pinnacle Entertainment acquisition, savings realized during covid-19 shutdowns, and unique opportunities such as cashless gaming," Chaiken said.