Seminole Tribe Rumored To Be Possible Buyers Of PENN Entertainment

Written By Steve Schult on June 12, 2024
The Seminole Tribe's flagship casino, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla.

PENN Entertainment owns 43 casinos in 20 different states. Its headquarters is located in Wyomissing, Penn.

However, if some investors get their way, the company could become a Florida-based brand owned by the Seminole Tribe.

Earlier this month, the Donerail Group, which owns a significant stake in PENN, urged the company to consider a sale. The group cited poor capital allocation resulting in a loss of credibility.

Over the last few years, the company has dove into several states’ online sports betting landscapes.

First, the company bought Barstool Sports and used that brand for its sports betting operations. But the company ran into problems with regulators because of Barstool’s media antics.

Then, PENN sold the brand back to founder Dave Portnoy and entered into a deal with ESPN. Now, PENN’s online sportsbook is ESPN BET.

“After four years of effort, attention, and billions of dollars in shareholder capital invested, the company has been unable to disintermediate the online sports betting landscape, as it had forecast,” said Donerail managing partner Will Wyatt in an open letter to PENN chairman David Handler.

Seminole Tribe rumored to be among possible buyers

According to a recent Earnings and More newsletter, Hard Rock International was rumored to be one of the two likely buyers. Hard Rock is the corporate entity of the Seminole Tribe and owns the tribe’s non-Florida properties.

The newsletter also listed Boyd Gaming as a possible purchaser.

Recently, rumors about the tribe’s expansion is commonplace. There were reports the Seminoles were in the mix to purchase the Star Casino, a distressed property in Australia.

Regarding the Australian company, the tribe was quick to dispel those reports. On the other hand, the Seminoles have been quiet since the PENN rumors were reported.

While it’s still just conjecture, the tribe’s response gives more credibility to the sale’s possibility.

PENN’s regional properties useful for tribe

The Seminole Tribe is most profitable in the Sunshine State. It owns six casinos, including two Hard Rock-branded properties in Tampa and Hollywood. If lawmakers legalize Florida online casinos, the tribe would also have exclusivity over those.

But it also owns brick-and-mortar properties in New Jersey, Oklahoma, California,  Indiana, South Dakota, Virginia, Ohio, Mississippi and most recently Las Vegas.

In other words, the tribe is expanding its Hard Rock brand into many other states. Acquiring PENN’s 43 properties, which are located mostly in jurisdictions where Hard Rock doesn’t have a large footprint, could help their cause.

It’s unknown if the ESPN BET brand would be included in the deal. Currently, PENN’s online sportsbook is legal in 18 states, while the tribe’s Hard Rock Bet app is only available in eight states.

ESPN BET is available everywhere Hard Rock is, except for Florida. The Seminoles have a monopoly on the Florida online sports betting industry, making Hard Rock the only legal option in the Sunshine State.

Photo by AP Photo / Wilfredo Lee
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Steve Schult

As Managing Editor of PlayFL, Steve will stay on top of all things related to the Florida gaming industry. He is also a veteran of the gambling world. The native New Yorker started covering high-stakes tournaments in 2009 for some of poker's most prominent media outlets before adding the broader U.S. gaming market to his beat in 2018.

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