Score Media and Gaming will shut down its namesake sports book in the United States on Canada Day, ending the Toronto-based brand’s uphill battle for visibility south of the border.
The move comes nearly eight months after theScore’s acquisition by Penn National Gaming (PENN) in a US$2 billion cash-and-stock deal aimed at growing market share in the crowded North American sports betting market.
TheScore Bet will stop accepting wagers in the U.S. on June 15, after which users will only be able to conduct withdrawal transactions. The company's media unit and wagering business in Ontario are not affected.
The company says the decision to shut down betting action on theScore Bet platform in the four U.S. states where it operates (Colorado, Indiana, Iowa and New Jersey) is aimed at shifting focus to its Barstool Sportsbook brand. Penn has a 36 per cent stake in Barstool, with an option to buy controlling ownership.
“Since Penn’s acquisition of theScore, the company’s plan has been to lead with Barstool Sportsbook in the U.S., and theScore Bet in Canada, given our strong brand equity there,” theScore's president and COO Benjie Levy told Yahoo Finance Canada in a statement.
“With theScore Bet launched and thriving in Ontario, and as we approach a major undertaking this summer with the launch of our proprietary risk and trading service, the timing is right to focus our U.S. efforts on marketing Barstool Sportsbook and our Canadian efforts on marketing theScore Bet.”
TheScore Bet has struggled to gain traction in the U.S. market against sports betting giants like DraftKings (DKNG). An industry analyst who spoke to Yahoo Finance Canada last July predicted a spending war to attract customers, favouring larger, well-capitalized players.
"Acquiring customers is all about marketing dollars and losing money right now," Chad Beynon of Macquarie Capital said in an interview. "A lot of companies are willing to lose hundreds of millions of dollars. That's one thing theScore isn't willing to do right now... I think that's one of the reasons why their market share is where it is."
However, theScore Bet has proven tough to ignore on its home turf in Ontario. In April, the Toronto Blue Jays announced a 10-year deal with theScore Bet that includes plans for a branded sports bar at Rogers Centre.
A report by Morgan Stanley found theScore Bet app captured an early lead in Ontario as the market opened for private competition.
Jeff Lagerquist is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jefflagerquist.