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OK, this episode we have CEO of Penn National Gaming, Jay Snowden, my boss, I both of my bosses on this episode, I get I'm in the middle of Boss Inception.
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OK, Jay Snowden, Penn National Gaming. Like I said, my boss, the Penn National Gaming, bought barstool sports at the end of January. In twenty we interview Jay.
He actually was heading to Las Vegas from the interview and it was right before everything got shut down. So I remember talking to him right before he left and I said, you know, he was like, you, you ready for March Madness? And I was like, Oh, I'm so excited for March Madness.
Little did I know it would be canceled like two days later. But this interview is great because, you know, obviously things have changed with coronavirus and everything that's happened. But Jay gets into what he saw in barstool and why he invested in our company and also his back story, which is fascinating. I think we both appreciate that because a lot of things we didn't know about him. He's so cool.
I mean, the fact that he grew up in Vegas, you know, son of a poker dealer and ends up in Harvard, I mean, that was a pivot that I was not expecting. Yes, but such a humble guy, so grounded, has always been good with numbers. But, you know, he also was an athlete. He was a quarterback.
And I think when you put all those things together, you know, son of a poker dealer quarterback went to Harvard and he's just gritty. And what he did by buying bar stool when he did, I have to give myself a little credit because I was first out of the market.
And I remember you text me late at night and you go, I love you. Quote, you said, Barstow's a billion dollar company before anybody. And I do believe that GE has a tremendous deal and a great partnership with Barstow. I really liked his story. Yeah.
And it's it's fascinating to talk to someone like like GE who, you know, you mentioned it. His mother was a blackjack dealer. No one in his family went to college and he ends up playing quarterback at Harvard. And he is you know, I've spent some time with Jay both, you know, before this after this, you know, in the process of Penn buying bar stool, we went out to a couple meals. And he is such an unassuming guy in a great way in like I didn't know he went to Harvard.
I actually you can hear it in this interview. I was shocked when he said it because he'd never mentioned it before. And that's the type of guy he is.
He's just down to earth, really, just a regular, regular person who's had tremendous success, success and climb the ladder in his industry. And I'm so, so happy to be working with him because he he's someone I trust and he's someone that I know that I can talk to on the phone if I need something.
I think he's the first guy that went to Harvard that didn't mention it in the first two strikes.
It's crazy. That's who he is, though. That's really who he is. So it's a really fascinating interview.
And I think that if you're a longtime basketball fan, you can get you know, you can glean from this why he saw so much in and Dave myself, barstool in general and why he decided the partnership was a good move for Penn and how he believes in the vision that we have, which is always fun.
When you do business with someone and they and there's a shared vision, it's such an exciting feeling to have. So Jay's a great interview.
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OK, here he is, Jay Snowden. You're listening to the court presented by barstool sports. OK, we now welcome on a very special guest to the Kaup, he is good looking, brilliant, charming. Also in full disclosure, he's my boss now about Jane.
It is true. That was good. That was good. You just you just one up to my great, great intro. But that was great. A-Rod. So I'm with both of my bosses. It is Jason Oden from Penn National Gaming CEO who recently acquired 36 percent of bar stool.
So, Jay, I told you before this, you're going to be in a season with Kevin Durant, Jimmy Fallon, Jay Leno, a lot of big names. But in a weird way, this not sure why I'm here on this interview, though, is going to be one of the biggest ones, because our audience, my audience is going to listen to this being like, should I like this guy? So no pressure, no pressure. But it's great to have you on and it's great to have you here.
And I want to let's start there with kind of getting you acquainted with our audience. Let's start from the beginning. Let's start from how you got into the gaming industry, how you grew up. Yeah, all that stuff. Yeah.
So my story is really kind of wacky, unorthodox. You meet people in the industry and they kind of got into it after their college years or knew somebody in the industry and got in. So I grew up in Vegas, born and raised my mom as a poker dealer. My grandfather, going back even further, moved to Vegas from Iowa as a in his early 20s because he was a professional poker player. So after World War Two, he had made some dollars open a bar in Iowa.
He got shut down. I think they were doing some illegal poker games there. He packed it up and moved to Vegas where it was legal. And then he had my mom, my two uncles raise them as a single dad for the most part. And so I'm second generation Vegas. I never had a dad. My dad left my mom when I was two.
And so my mom was always working. And I just I developed a love for the industry. I hustled a lot. I love to play poker still to this day. And we play poker.
And I, I usually play with my buddies. I'm not I'm not I don't have time. You go to a casino to play and you got to put in twelve hours. Yeah. At least in order to give yourself a chance of winning because you're playing again. If you go to some of the casinos on the strip you're playing against really good players. And so you might lose your ass the first six hours, but you've got to be willing to put in another six hours to get out your money.
It's hard to find a good game. I love to play poker. We can't find it. Yeah, I'll play with you. That's fun when you're rich now. So whatever.
Closing up. All right. So so that's interesting, though, because I think a lot of people don't understand, you know, people executives in the gaming industry were either kind of born into it in a, you know, top level way or they were fast tracked in some way. You really actually started your mom. I read an article, you know, going with your mom to pick up her paycheck as a blackjack dealer and in feeling the excitement of a casino and seeing the smiles and feeling the energy.
And you were just hooked from that. Yeah.
I mean, I didn't really know what it was I was in I just know I was five or six years old. I'm with my mom. We're going to the frontier and picking up a paycheck. And there's lights and there's noise and people are yelling at the craps table and money's flying chips are clanking. And I just I liked it. You know, I was like, this is something I think I want to do. So I went to public school all the way through high school, played sports, played baseball and football in high school.
I was recruited for football, for college, and then found my way to the northeast for college and played football in college. And after I was done playing, I was literally in a car the day after graduation with my best friend, drove cross-country back to Vegas, started in the industry two weeks later and never look back.
So how could you afford a couple of questions? How can you afford Harvard know? How'd you enjoy football at Harvard, and were you always a math or were you more of an English person? I'll start with the last one first. Always math. My SAT score is really good on the math side, terrible on the English side. I think Harvard would not want me to tell you what my SAT score was because I was totally there for some football.
But I knew that this playing football in college was an opportunity for me to get out of Vegas and I wanted to see something new. I never traveled as a kid. So yeah, I took trips to BYU, took trips to University of Utah. I played quarterback and I remember sitting in Leavelle. Edwards office on my trip to BYU and to me having gone to a big public high school and my buddies were going to Washington State.
And in Colorado, I wasn't thinking Ivy League at all.
I wanted to play D1 football. But toward the middle of the recruiting, I had never even thought about an Ivy League school. And somehow they got my name. I don't. They recruited in Las Vegas at public schools and Penn called and Dartmouth called and Harvard called. And I remember the first time I got the call from Harvard. I pick up the phone and they say, hey, this is coach. Whatever they said at the time from Harvard University talking about football.
And I was like, yeah, f off with my buddies.
I hung up on right. They call right back then. Didn't know that this is this is Harvard College. So it just kind of triggered for me.
So I took my last three visits to Dartmouth, Penn and Harvard. And I remember sitting in the head coach at Harvard's office my last visit. I was a fish out of water on those visits. I mean, all these kids from prep schools and private schools in the Northeast. And I just I didn't have a lot in common with anybody there.
I didn't have any money. I'm a city kid and good, nice guys that hosted me on those visits, but I just didn't have a lot in common with them. But I'm sitting in Coach Murphy's office at Harvard on my last ten minutes of my last visit, and he says, What are you thinking? And I said, I'm going to this Ivy League.
Thank you for recruiting me. Like, I can't believe I walked the campus yesterday. I'm not a Harvard guy. I'm a city guy. I want to play D1 football. And I was just sitting in Lobell Edwards office like, that's a dream. Edwards put his old tape of Steve Young Isaiah. This could be, you know, one of those deals and or I'm coming to the University of Utah.
One of my best friends from that I played with was going there. And he said, I understand. He said, you want to stay close to home and play D1.
He said for the rest of your life, I found out he used this light on a lot of people.
This wasn't a thing, but it's a great line, he said, for the rest of your life, you and be able to tell people one or two things, either you went to Harvard or you could have went to Harvard Med.
And the second one, no one cares about me.
And I remember even sitting there as a 17 year old kid, I'm staring at him. And it was probably awkward silence for ten seconds. And I'm thinking to myself, because my mom in this process, she's working hard. No one in our family ever went to college. So if I went home and told her, I decide I don't want to go to any of these colleges, I just want to start working construction like Uncle Earl or my brother Dan, who dropped out of high school.
She said, whatever makes you happy, go for it. So this decision really was on through the process. And I remember sitting there and kind of staring off and thinking myself, I get it. Yeah. And I turned to when I was like, I'm coming here like literally ten seconds after he said that. And that was done. And credit to you because I don't know, maybe if I haven't been paying attention, but I didn't even realize you went to Harvard.
So you are not one of those guys who tells everyone that you went to Harvard that never has come up. So credit to you. What was your record against you two and two?
Yeah, I know we were we were we were horrible when we first got there. So our our head coach, when he got there, I just got there from University of Cincinnati D one program that he had turned around and they brought him in to like Harvard was. They were terrible. And he was slowly putting this team together.
They started recruiting guys and that had had really no reason being there. But we're great kids, hard workers had great grades. Maybe the test scores weren't great. That was I was the poster child of that one and just want to change the face of the program. And those are still a lot of my best friends.
So did you go to a..
Junior and senior year?
No, we wanted our senior year. But what we what. And we won the Ivy League Championship.
You're going to want to go run against Sejna. You're a city boy. You come from humble beginnings. Yeah, a mom's a dealer. You've always been a math guy. So now you graduate from Harvard. What happens and what takes you to Washington University of St. Louis?
Yeah. So what happens is literally got in the car, drove cross-country. I had applied over winter, break my senior year to a couple of casino companies, so I applied at Harrah's on the strip.
Funny shows the how naive I was. I interview and goes well. And so they asked me to come back like the last day before I head back to school on winter break. And I sit down with the head of H.R. and I was the head of food and beverage and they said, hey, you know, we like you. What do you want to do?
I think a lot of kids from Harvard just like drop the resume off, which is what I did. And I said, I don't know what I want to do. I want to learn. So they said, we'll make up an internship program for you. And they said, what? What do you think you need to be paid? I was like, holy shit, like how do you how do I answer that? Right. And I'm thinking to myself, you know, my mom has never made more than 30 grand a year in her life.
So if I had made more than my mom, like, first job, I I've made it. And I was like 32.
And they turn back to me, they go, how about 35 now, the lowballed.
So anyway, that's how it started. And then I worked for Harrah's in Las Vegas for a few years. I was the journeyman wherever they needed, somebody sent me. So I lived in San Diego for three years. I moved to St. Louis. Alex, to your question, and while I was working at Harrah's in St. Louis, they sent me back to get my MBA at Washington University and paid for it, which was awesome opportunity.
And then after that, I went to Atlantic City and I was there for two of the last great years in Atlantic City.
And then all the casinos in neighboring states opened and it was in freefall. So my last three years in Atlantic City were really tough, but I think I really learned how to operate and be a great leader because we had to make a lot of tough decisions during those years.
One quick question about your MBA, because we have a lot of our listeners are either going to MBA or thinking about getting their MBA or thinking about going back to Wall Street. Just a quick word. Is that something you recommend and why or why not? Yeah, I.
I would recommend it highly and not because I would say I left there as a graduate and I could tell you what I learned in every class.
There's some things that you certainly take away, but you go to get an MBA and you're meeting people if it works out the way it's supposed to, who have already professional experiences, especially if you're an executive MBA, which which I did. I was in my late 20s and most of the people in that class were in their mid 30s, late 30s, early 40s. And so they had been working for 15 years. And so I'm not with people from Boeing and American Airlines.
And you're mean people from industries that I knew nothing about. So and they you know, these MBA programs, they put you in groups of five and then you rotate after six months. So I just met a lot of really interesting people. And I think it helped to round out the way that I thought about the industry, because up until that point, I think my thought process was more myopic. You know, I knew the gaming industry really, really well, but I didn't you know, it also taught me to be curious, I think, more than I even already was.
So now I'm a big reader and I read very rarely on my own time about my industry. I try to read about other industries and interesting people. Sports, of course.
So, yeah, I would I would highly recommend because I think it is going to help round you out and teach you things outside of what you know, within the industry.
When I did poorly on my GMAT and then decided to join BASTABLE. So there's different parts for everyone. That's right. So I'm always curious with this.
When you end up being CEO of Penn, was there a point in your career where you kind of took a step back and you're like, wait, I actually have a pretty impressive resume here. I might be on track for something like CEO of a huge gaming, you know, company.
Yeah, I big kid. I guess I've never thought about it that way because I knew what I wanted to do at a very young age.
I got into the industry right after college and I loved it more than I thought I was going to. And so my mindset was always, how can I learn as much as possible? Like I'm I'm a sponge.
I just love learning about people and interesting things.
And I was in L.A. in San Francisco last week just meeting with tech companies to listen to how they're thinking about this convergence of sports and gaming and video gaming.
And I just like to learn. So I guess for me, I was always so focused on how can I, you know, be the best at whatever it is I'm being asked to do and what's the next step? And how do I prepare myself for that? And how do I learn as much as possible that it all just kind of came right, like the titles came and the comp. I just I never had to ask for a raise or ask for a promotion, because I guess the passion and the love of what I was doing maybe showed.
And I'm so curious. I was always just trying to learn as much as I could.
That's interesting because I think that's it's very cliche to say. But I find myself being in the same spot where there were so many days where it's like you love what you do day to day, that then you wake up one day and you're like, I've done a lot. Like, this is kind of crazy. And that kind of segues into, you know, the pen bar stool marriage, because that was the probably the first time where I was like, holy shit, this is real, real.
This is actually happening.
What? Walk us through that. Like, where did where did that start? How are you guys how are you introduced to Eric and Dave? You know, the beginning. Was there a moment where, like this is going to work? There's going to be great? Yeah, just kind of because I think a lot of our listeners don't really know the full back story of how you thought about it from your perspective.
Yeah, I mean, this is one of those where I'm happy to say at this point that I was just thinking about it all wrong at the beginning. So when possible was first overturned, that was the federal law that bans sports betting. It was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in. Have 18 and after that, you know, we're we're looking at ourselves and saying we're in 19 states, we had just closed on the transaction with PINNACLE. We're in the process of closing the transaction pinnacle.
We're now in 19 states with 40 properties. This is a states rights issue. So, man, we just got to figure out what's the right strategy here. What we were missing, of course, was a sports betting brand. We have great casino brands, but we didn't have a sports betting brand.
And the audience inside these brick and mortar casinos skews older. Right? So slot players table games does skew younger, but most of our business is slots and that tends to skew older and it tends to skew female.
So we knew we needed a partner and we started meeting with all sorts of companies, the European online operators. Maybe that was the right approach because they've been in this business with online sports betting for years.
Over in Europe, we met with media companies, mostly the big ones, initially the Foxes and NBC, CBS, Disney, you name them.
We met with the regional sports networks and I wasn't really sure what the strategy was.
I just knew we were missing something. And so we just we were meeting and meeting and meeting.
One thing that came became clear in my mind, probably six months into the process, is that whatever partner we decide to go with, we have to make sure that we have complete alignment with them and that we have to make sure that we're all tied to the same end result.
So if we if we're going to partner even with a Disney, for example, or a CBS, I was thinking I really want to create a joint venture so that they care about this as much as we do. And whatever we do with them is so fully integrated, it's not reading an ad off a card that you guys get paid to do, and that's part of the job.
But if it's organic and it's just it's it's really integrated in everything that big cat does because he believes in it, for example. And what I found was when we meet with the big media companies, no knock on them.
They're just big, right? Huge and bureaucratic. And we're meeting with people and those companies who are very excited about this potential partnership. But then you'd ask the question of so I won't use names, but what is the CEO think about this opportunity? Well, we haven't talked to him yet. Would you're outside board members consider getting licensed in nineteen states?
Absolutely not. OK, we're wasting our time on the next one.
So we were we had probably met with 12 to 15 companies and we were introduced to Barstow.
I believe it was your guys head of development.
Yes, Steve. He knew about the Penn story. We knew the Barstow's story, but we didn't know you guys were interested in potentially partnering up. So I think he brokered that deal.
And, look, you you knew you knew in the first meeting there was a like a preliminary meeting, which was interesting.
And I wasn't in that one. And Chris Rogers, my head of strategy and John Capitalist's are head of interactive, called me right after site. So we got to find the right partner. And I had all these boxes that there's no partner out there that checks all those boxes. You will find them. And they called me like little kids after that meeting, initial meeting with Erica and TV. And they said, this is it. Like it checks on my barstool, like, no way.
So let's schedule meeting next week. So we schedule me meeting next week.
And it was Erica and Divi and El Prez.
And then I brought my head of strategy, head of Iraq. So six of us in a room and you start going through the list, like, what are you guys looking for in this sports betting opportunity?
They're like, well, we want we need access to the opportunity. We don't have that. Of course, we're not casino operators. We also don't know how to operate a sports book. We know how to bet on sports. And we love sports. We know how to operate a sports book like, okay, well, we check those boxes.
We also would love to have destinations because today as a company, we do all of these events. We do game day parties on college campuses, but we're doing them in a parking lot at Dunkin Donuts or something.
And it would be great if we had a place to do that was like a real destination, because our audience would love that and the turnout would probably be even bigger. We checked that box. We're in a lot of great college towns and a lot of big cities with sporting events, and they turn to us and say, well, what?
What are you missing? And you know what we're missing as a brands. And by the way, a brand that we want to lead with that was very important to Dave and Erica. They didn't want to be part of a machine where they were going to be. Bastar was part of something else. But the lead brand wasn't barstool and we wanted to lead with bar stool. That was that was Dave Portnoy smiling ear to ear.
That was the deal.
And they also knew that they needed they needed a they needed a partner and they wanted to activate their audience.
So you go through the list of what what what did Penn need? Check, check, check what a bar stool need. Check, check, check. The last big thing for me was all around structure.
Like, we wanted to structure this in a way that, again, we're aligned. Right? So it's not just we invest in Bar Stool and Dave and Erika and Dan Katz and others sort of quote unquote, cash out and they're like, oh, we're onto the next thing, we're rich.
And it was important to us that we had alignment. So I remember the second meeting we went to. I said, you know something that's really. To me, and not because it's important to Gebo, because I think it's important to the success of this partnership, is the consideration. And what would you guys, the two of you, Erica and Dave, think about 55 percent penstock, 45 percent cash. And it was like that moment. I remember like the second it happened, I was expecting them to say, we got to go talk outside real quick like that.
We weren't thinking about it that way. And they didn't look at each other. Eyebrows weren't raised. They didn't ask to recess outside the room. They both looked at me and said, we want the same thing. Yeah, because if we don't know if it's all cash, it's one time in nature and we're done.
Yeah, we walk away. Walk away. Right.
And if we do this in equity and this is structured the right way, where it's done more equity over time, which is the way we've structured this, then we're all in this for the long term and we're in it for driving value to Penn shareholders, which can be doing events at the properties. It can be retail sports books that you guys are helping us with this positive vibes only tour and visiting four properties in four days and activating your audience at our properties.
We're gonna have a blast doing that. But guess what? That's as good for Penn as the success of our sports betting app. Right. And I don't want you guys to only be focused on the sports betting app. Let's be focused on what matters. Right. And doing this brick and mortar. And that's what I talking too long to a simple question.
But our great strategy understand this. Yeah.
Our strategy, I think, is really unique in that we have competitors that have brick and mortar casinos and brick and mortar sports books, but they don't have a real compelling online strategy. And there's companies like Draft Kings and Fandor. And I would say this if they were sitting here. No. And they have great online product and strategy, but they don't have the brick and mortar component. And we have the most properties in the country are representing the most states in the country.
And we're going to have a kick ass sports betting app in August that were launched in state by state as we roll. So we have an omni channel, which is a fancy way of saying we have casinos and we have an online product. So if you want to sit home on your couch and bet on sports or bet on a casino in states where they all you can do that, you won't get off the couch and go party at a casino, you can do that and you can do it all with pen and barstool stool.
Yeah, that's sort of the magic of how I thought this could all come. Yeah.
Let's talk a little bit about the acquisition price of four fifty, which is a deal compared to what you had to set. That is A-Rod said we were a billion dollar. Watch that just ahead.
That's why I knew I got a steal, because it's just a matter of time, just a matter of time and helped anchor the negotiations and walk us through.
How you came up with 450 and what made you comfortable, which to me is a very attractive price because I'm bullish on Bastar long.
Why were you so attracted to that price?
So the first part of your question is actually really simple answer. It was the price that we were asked for by the turnon group. Peter Chernin and the team there said, you know, 450 is the price tag. And so we got that early in the process. That was very important, like, are we even in the right ballpark? We got that. And I remember walking into my head of strategy, Chris Rogers office, I was in the hallway when it came through and I was so nervous to open the email because I was like, this deal can be off.
Right? If they say it's worth five billion dollars or something like deal's off. And I open it up and I see the number.
And I was like. I'm not offended by that, right? I wasn't like, hey, this is a they're idiots, but it was like I'm not I'm not offended. So that was a big deal. And I felt like the deal is probably going to get done. But what we did is we said, let's not. So got your price tag. Let's not talk about that for now. Let's talk about all the other stuff.
And if all of the other stuff comes together the way that we need it to as a company, then 450 is probably the price tag. If we have to give on things throughout this negotiation than 450 we think is too high and that needs to come down. Look, in my heart of hearts, I felt for 50 was was a very good price.
Is one of those transactions where you really had three parties, you had Dave and Erica and everybody at Bar Stool as owners of Bar Stool, 40 percent. You had the turn in group, Peter Chernin and Jesse and Mike, that owned 60 percent. So those are sort of two parties that might be motivated by slightly different or entirely different things. And then you had Penas, the third party. And when we announced the deal, it was one of those where Chernin got the price tag they wanted.
They got all cash. So they were very excited about that. Dave and Dan and Erika and everybody at Bar, so really excited. They got a partner there live living the dream. They're now publicly traded like all these things that were really, really leading what their brands so very happy. They got penstock that they now have. You know, they have a currency they can look at every day right now. It's not a good time with coronaviruses, look at it.
But they have a currency they can look at every day and understand the value of that of that investment, which I think is very important. They're thinking every day about how do we do things that are good for Penn and Penn shareholders, because that's the way that I wake up and think every day. Yeah, we were excited because we felt like 450 was a very good price. And I just I'm a huge believer in the brands.
I think barstool is an absolute hidden gem. And I say hidden not because people don't know about it.
I don't think people generally fans do, but even people who are fans probably appreciate how powerful barstool is.
And it's so unique in that it's the only media company out there that speaks to their audience the way that audience wants to be spoken to. And then they understand and that they get and on the platforms that they spend all of their time on. You know, you talk to people in their 20s and 30s and even early 40s these days, and they're not watching TV. They just they don't consume TV and radio and, you know, social media, such a big part of their life.
And you guys are your experts. You're the best at it.
And I would imagine our gambling history probably had a lot to do with it, too, because, I mean, Dave and I would always laugh when we'd look around trying to hire more people to talk about sports gambling like there's no one out there. It was always very hard to find people who were authentic about it, who who lived it and enjoyed it. And having that aspect, I'm sure, was was a big, attractive part of what we do.
Yeah, absolutely. I should have mentioned that. But to me, I feel like people know that about you. Yeah, yeah. Dave started this thing handing out newspapers at the T stops in Boston. Found you in the early years. Chicago like doing what you love, which is sports, sports betting on sports, sports. Yes. That's who you guys are. And so it's also great, like in the early conversations.
And then I remember, you know, we're having lunch before the deal was announced and we sat next to each other at lunch. It's like I just couldn't stop talking and talking because our minds are racing about all the things that we can do. And why is that? Because you're living your dream right now.
This is your passion and you're living it. Yeah. And you're being rewarded for it.
Like, what a great feeling. I feel the same way I'm in my dream job and I'm being rewarded for doing what I love to do every day that I get up.
And now there's new challenges. And I love that too. And I love this convergence of sports and media and tech and my gaming industry because it's an opportunity to learn again. But yeah, I mean, look at the other day. Who you guys are at your core was a huge, huge component.
Yeah, it's interesting.
We haven't talked about this, but the like what Jay was talking about, the passion for day to day, we found that we're like Dave and I have gone to meetings where we're sitting and actually helping build an app, a sports gambling, or we're going to casinos.
And like I made this joke before, but we would walk into a casino, do a tour and get to point out like, all right, this is how I would do this is how I do that. It's like we're just two guys who love this and would be doing this anyway. If you told us we do this for free, we do it for free. So it's that passion that I think makes it a perfect deal because everyone's doing what they love.
Alignment along. Yeah.
Which is a very key, you know, message to anyone out there who's listening in like, you know, maybe lost in their career. It's like it is cliche and it does sound sappy, but when you do find something you truly love, it makes everything else kind of click.
I'm a big believer in that because I, I, I try to answer when so when you're asked a question, I'm sure you could ask a lot like how would you like this job.
Amazing. Damn it. Good for you.
And I don't think it's not realistic to say to people whatever your dream is, go go like no I don't think that's realistic.
But I do think it's realistic though, is that we all have core competencies. We all have things that we're really good at. Naturally, all of us do and we have things we're not good at.
Actually, and what I would just say is to people try to find that job or that that line of career path that takes advantage of what you do naturally really well, and that you enjoy saying, like, I'm going to go find that perfect job for me tomorrow.
It's not really it doesn't really exist because even as we say that, you know, the passion we have, there are definitely days where it's like, I don't like this, I don't like that, you know, question.
But I think if you like, I have friends who have I grew up with and some of them found the right jobs like great personalities, outgoing, and they're doing sales for pharmaceutical companies and they're killing it. And they're and they're taking people out like they're they're just they're being themselves and they love it. And I have friends with similar personalities who are in jobs where it's same thing every day, day in, day out. And some of them are even doing well financially and they're miserable.
So I would say like just fine, like, what are you great at? What do you enjoy and what are the jobs that sort of allow you to do that and pursue one of them and then see where it goes.
Talking about passion and challenges, what would you say as a CEO of this company is your biggest joy and the best part of it? And what's your biggest challenge daily?
Great question. My biggest joy day in and day out is the people side. I just I love.
Talent development, I love putting people in positions where they think they're in a position to fail, but I know they're in a position to succeed long term, they're probably going to have some failures along the way. But seeing people really stretch and tap into what their potential is, even if they don't see it or they don't feel it. But you do. So I'm I'm very passionate about that is when I was CEO, Human Resources Talent Development reported to me.
And as CEO, it still does and always will report to me. I'm very, very passionate about people.
And look, without great people, I can't do my job. And I wake up every day feeling like, you know, challenges are going to come, but we're ready for him because the people we have on our team are the best in the industry. So I felt very passionate about that. That's easily my favorite part of the job day in and day out.
I mean, you know, being in 19 states is a blessing because we have this gaming and sports betting opportunity in 19 states. I won't say it's a curse because it's not a curse in any way. It can be challenging because in being in 19 states, there's not one set of rules.
There's not one set of controls and regulations. And Big Cat, you're going to learn this when you travel with us.
Yeah, good. And some some challenge already have to learn learning. Right. So in Chicago you can do this and we can sell tickets this way. And you know, part of the package is to drinks. Right. Then we travel to another state, can't sell drinks as part of a package. So it's going to be this is the price and it's a cash bar. Or, you know, you can walk back a house with a badge or you can't walk.
So there's a lot of regulations that, you know, we have people that do this full time to keep us on track for what we need to be doing in each of these 19 states. But renewing licenses and I'm licensed in 19 states and within those states, sometimes it's gaming and horse racing and lotteries. So I think I'm I have 35 licenses. And if you saw Alex and Dan, what I have to provide for each one of those, it would shake you to your core.
And there's they know every penny of my life where it sits, how long it's been sitting there. They know everything about everyone in my family. They go back generations and they look at, you know, what my grandfather did as a poker player. I mean, it's it's pretty intrusive. Yeah, I signed up for it. So I'm not complaining. I'm just saying that it's one of the things that comes with the job, that it takes a lot of time and it can be challenging because we're in 19 states.
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All right. Let's talk sports betting real quick.
So obviously I'm passionate about it, the growth of sports betting across the country. First of all, do you think like if you could guess when it's going to be legal in all the states or the majority of the states, what would that gasp?
It's it's moving so fast then. And, you know, passed back in, overturned less than two years ago. And we're live now in twenty states like who would have thought 20 states, New Jersey.
You knew because they were the one challenge in this, the U.S. Supreme Court. But 20 states, I wouldn't have guessed. So I would say you're probably going to have 75 to 80 percent of the country have access to legal sports betting in the next four to five years, maybe higher than that. I might be conservative and what I'm saying, but it's going to be the vast majority of the country.
Now, the second part of the question is, for the first time, I would imagine, in the game and the gaming industry, this is as much an investment in sports betting as it is an investment in tech. And the growth of technology, because that's going to be where you see the big upside. So has that been difficult to basically transition, maybe more? You know, you've been brick and mortar your whole career to now, hey, we've got to figure out the cutting edge tech.
We've got to be at the forefront of everything that gets done, otherwise going to be left behind.
Great question. Thank you. I know it actually said that is actually the way it came out. Had no total problems. Those moments where I was like in the middle of I was like, don't mess it up. Walking, nailing. And that's a great question.
And I'll tell you, that is where I spend all of my time right now, because I was reading a story the other day that 85 percent of companies this is a very high percentage and that means it's odds are against me. 85 percent of companies that are brick and mortar retail established that attempt to go digital fail. Wow.
And the reason why they fail, there's usually two primary reasons. One, they're not all in.
They're kind of dipping the toe and we're saying all the right things. But are we organizationally doing all of the right things? In the number two, they end up with factions within their company. It's the we, the US, they write the new people are spending all the money and they don't make money. We don't get the money. We make the money.
And so we've done a ton of work on this. And I'm not saying we're there yet, but both of those are things that are very top of mind for me. We just had our company wide leadership meeting in early February. We had Dave and Erica there as the guest speakers, and we spent an entire day and I gave people in advance. They had to read articles on the Wal-Mart's and targets and companies that got Amazon and how some have responded well and others are really struggling internally on how to adapt and and move their business and pivot.
So I think we're I think we're as ready as a established brick and mortar company can be because we also reward people with penstock within the company. So even if you're working at a property and you might look at it sort of myopically otherwise of like this is my world, I don't want to share my customers. And if I do, it's bad for me. We issue pen equity to our property leaders as well. And so they get it. And when we're talking about what's best for Pen is good for everybody in this room of 250 leaders in the company.
Sign them up, they get it. And they're also looking at, you know, we gave them case studies of here's what's happened. Here's what happens to companies that don't wake up.
Right. They go down. Right. And so we want to make sure that we're a leader in this space. And if we do this right, we can have the most compelling strategy, because in our case, with sports betting and gambling, having a brick and mortar presence and online is more powerful than only having one of those.
That's interesting. You mentioned the the like we versus them thing, because that does happen. And I've never really thought about it that way. But it absolutely does, because you have people who are brilliant technology developers, app developers that know things that a common guy like me would never be able to process. Yes. So there's that natural tension, like, I don't know what you're doing. I can't even wrap my head around what you're doing. And they look back and they're like, you're just doing, you know, regular, antiquated things.
That's interesting. Yeah, that's that's something that you're, like, consciously trying to bring everyone together on.
Have to we I mean, we have to I don't want to say we have to evolve. We need to evolve because we want to be leaders in this. And I don't want to be playing catch up to somebody else. I think that, you know, draft kings and Fandor of sort of who knew they were going to be competitors of ours when they launched daily fantasy sports and did all those commercials five or six years ago.
But now they are and they have compelling apps. You know, they have good technology teams and they're continuing to make their products better. So, look, we have we have an office in Philadelphia that is the interactive team.
That's where they said it's great for recruiting. And we've got a team of sixty product developers and engineers. You've met many of them and that we're working on building this app.
And I'll tell you, I don't like being second or third to develop something. But in this case, I think it's an advantage because sports betting is still at its infancy. It's only been live in a few states. And yet we're able to look at everyone else's sports betting apps and say, we like that, we don't like that. We like this. And just you're kind of taking the best of ideas, the beauty of of what we can create on the technology side.
Dan, is that what we have that no one else has and they can't just get or buy? Is the people behind barstool?
You're a big you're a huge part of that. And for people to be able to go on to our app and somehow interact with Big Cat and El Prez and others on your team that are passionate about sports betting is a really big deal. Yeah, and I think that's something that we can do that no one else can offer. So when you go to our app, it's not just transactional, you know, money line over under, but you're going to be able to maybe somehow interact and I won't give too much away, you know, a lot of them.
Yeah, no, I don't want to give too much away either. But let's just say some of the things that Dave and I have been harping on for a very long time, we might have solutions to. Could be I mean, you talked about adapting and pivoting, and it's such a disruptive world, you describe yourself as scrappy and disruptive, but talking about baseball is a two part question.
And then I want you to kind of chime in here.
One is. The game I remember when my father grew up growing up with my father, there was too many sports. It was based on boxing. There was really no NFL and very little basketball. That was college football. But baseball and boxing ruled the world.
And then I felt like the game got a bit of a straitjacket, kind of was tied to their history and their legacy so much that you had a scrappy and disruptive leagues like NFL gambling was a big part of that NBA and David Stern and his movement, and it just blew right by us.
The two part question is, what role would gambling play in the growth of baseball for the next several decades? One and two, if both of you were commissioners for one season or so, what are some of the things you would do to make baseball great again?
Yeah, let me tackle the first one. You tackle the second Congress to hear your thoughts on that. I have some thoughts. I want to hear thoughts on that.
I think, look, if if I'm the commissioner of a league and I'm thinking about sports betting and how does this impact my league and my products, I think the legalization of sports betting is an absolute gift because it was already happening, but it was happening illegally.
It was happening underground and it was happening unregulated. Now it's legal in many states and it's growing rapidly. It's above board and it's regulated. And so you have visibility into who's betting and how are they betting and betting patterns.
And it's going to be, I think, easier for people to understand and to both the gaming companies that are taking the bets as well as the leagues, if they're working together the way that they should to know what to guard against and what to protect against.
And so now if you're if you're a baseball commissioner, man, what you hear and what they know is that the younger audiences aren't watching the game. Like, you can't put a 25 year old in front of a TV for three and a half hours unless they're bingeing on something they want to watch on Netflix. I don't watch baseball for three and a half hours, but would they if they had their device in their hands and they're able to bet on, you know, who's going to score most in this inning, who's going to get the next hit?
Is the pitcher strike or a ball for baseball?
I think it's probably more important than any other sport because baseball needs a shot in the arm. The games are long and the game is slow enough, which is usually not a good thing.
But in this case, is it slow enough where you can place bets between every pitch? Basketball's tough minutes flying up and down, three pointers, a rebound and it's a lot harder to bat in game NFL once it gets hurry up offenses.
You can do it, but it's harder. Hockey's a fast moving baseball. What a gift. What an opportunity.
It really is the perfect thing. And it's we had a free to play app this past fall called Bastable Bets, and we did it for the World Series.
And I you know, I've been sports gambling my entire life and I even I was like totally caught up in the fact that, like, hey, you can, you know, inning to inning, pitch to pitch, having that ability like like Jay-Z, like you can say, OK, in the fifth inning, the home team or the the road team will score more runs and now you're locked into that inning, unlike you would have been you know, and we're talking in the middle of July.
You can do that. And so I do think gambling with baseball is going to be huge, huge, huge. They're going to have to let Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame. Otherwise we'll be very hypocritical. I like I'll be the first step. And then you're going in the Hall of Fame, which I'm going to probably give the speech for I like.
But yeah, I think it's going to be huge. I think it's going to answer your question. What? Oh, the commissioner. Yeah, well, I would embrace I would embrace gambling.
That's number one, because I think what you're going to find you've seen the NBA do it where the NBA has kind of open arms to it.
NFL, I got it's always different. What else besides gambling? Well, I mean, we've talked about it, but the the ability to share highlights and the MLB, I understand their thought process behind it, how they basically have created a library of highlights that you have to use their stuff. But they really have kind of shot themselves in the foot because people don't watch sports the same way they did 20 years ago. They watch sports where if if a highlight happens on on on a big game, you know, big dunk or some, you know, touchdown, you see it on Twitter and then you go seek out the game.
If you see, you know, a pitcher is having throwing a gem of a game, you want to want to see the highlight on Twitter and then you go watch the game.
So explain that real quick. If Aaron Judge is a walk off home run, right, versus Steph Curry shooter, game winning shot creates a game winning shot.
It's on Twitter within like maybe twenty seconds. Wow. If Aaron Judge hits a walk off home run, you have to wait for the Yankees in the MLB account to post it for it to be on Twitter. Obviously, people will post it illegally, but then, you know, MLB will walk around in DMCA everyone and get their Twitter accounts suspended.
So I think the attention span of like basically the entire culture now being first and being like very immediate is so, so important. The MLB kind of gets left behind with that point.
Another couple of ideas. One I don't know how to solve for, you probably have a lot of ideas, Alex, which is how do you speed some things up? The games just last they just last too long. And I'm a bit I grew up playing Bay. I love baseball. I can watch games. My son plays baseball. He'll watch with me. But most kids his age, like there's nothing worse than watching baseball. The other one that to me is a no brainer.
And I didn't really have an appreciation for how big it could be until I was watching the highlights from a spring training game.
Do you guys see when they had Rizzo miked up?
Amazing. So that was awesome. Yeah, yeah. He's saying next pitch fastball, bam. He hits a single and a centerfield. I'm going for two. Oh, maybe not that whole. Like now I'm in the mine because everyone wonders, you know, OK, you did a million times Alex. But when you, when you get to first base after a hit and you win the first baseman and I was like, what are they talking about?
Yeah, right. You guys talking about something you both did last summer? Are you talking about the game? Are you talk about your Friday night? You don't like each other. What are you talking about. Yeah. And I think fans would embrace that.
Yeah. In a major way. I think that that little tests they probably thought, oh that was cute.
I would be all over that if I was. Man, it's going to be very hard though, because I'm sure you can speak to this. But baseball players being superstitious as they are, we make you up and you go for four. You're never getting miked up again.
I don't I don't believe in that because you see what LeBron James, he volunteers in the finals game one and two to be might. He says, hey, I want to be Mike because what happens is they spike. Yeah, right. Yeah.
And baseball is a challenge to get our players, whether the union or Major League Baseball, I'm not sure who it is. Maybe just a combination, but they got to get it right. You can't get these guys miked. But let's just say this is the three of us were to short baseball. We would say to Major League Baseball, OK, I want three things. Number one, I never want you to show us the sixty batting cages because from four to seven kids are awake.
You got to shut that down. OK, that's the most exciting part of the game. That's the number one. Rule number two, Roys. I never want players might because if he players Mike, you're going to get a revolution like you had the other day. Rizzo I had thirty forty people sending me the Rizzo. It was so cool. Can do that. OK, and number three, you slow the game down even more. If you do that will put a billion dollar bet and short the game.
Yes. Good point. Yeah.
You have to be disruptive. And I do think that we have the right leadership in Manford importunity and they're kind of scratching the surface.
But I also think the Astros controversy is going to be great for baseball because it's a story that now in a weird way, it actually has worked out that now everyone's going to want to watch when the Astros are playing and whether the Dodgers for sure.
But I know. I know. I know. All right. So wrap it up real quick. I had two last questions I had to ask you. And I usually use this time to ask maybe stupid questions, but people want to know it. When a pit boss takes your player card and they, like, disappear for like ten minutes, what the hell are they doing?
There's no way it takes that long.
It's it's not I wish my answer was better for you is a pretty shitty. What are they doing. The systems are slow and they're back over at the computer just like punching in your information. I forget half the time they'll take it and then they'll come back.
Twenty minutes later I'm like, oh jeez, ok, a lot of them are overstretched, OK, they're watching eight games. And so you get that they're grabbing your card, but they're grabbing seven other people's cards and they're also watching the games they're trying to punch this in while they're watching games. So it's not a great answer.
OK, and then I A-Rod, you obviously know this being around me for the last few years, that I have a proclivity to just say whatever is on my mind and maybe ask stupid questions. It's stupid. Times are in a box.
We were in a big we're in a big meeting. No, this actually happened. We're in a big meeting before the deal got done. And I asked, like, almost seems like a throw in. I was like, hey, how about I get to go view all the eye in the sky rooms? And Jay was like, no, you can't like, that's illegal. And I was like, but come on, man, like, I'm not going to do this deal without it.
So just tell me how cool it is in there. I want to know how cool it is in the eye. In the sky room.
You guys ever watch that TV show called Las Vegas? I think it was called and they had like the young guy that ran the casinos and his office was like one hundred cameras.
Yeah. Watching. Yes. Happen. That's not how it happened. I saw surveillance rooms.
You'd walk in and you'd be like, I wish this was something.
I actually don't want you to see surveillance rooms. I want I want to be big cat.
What you have in your minds.
Just let it be that because what it is is it's a dark room of hardworking team members that don't talk a lot because they're all watching all these cameras everywhere and not a lot of excitement.
You know, every once in a while something happens and we have to rewind tape and go back to writing. That can be exciting, but that doesn't happen every day, all day usually.
Anyway, this is a boring answer. Did you think it was stupid when I asked that we you know, I like what's that guy's problem?
People are fascinated with surveillance until they see one, until they say, oh, that's a good answer.
I want to show you. Well, now I don't. They're all the same. I'm gonna show you one and you'll never ask again.
I got a couple of Rapid Fire. One book you recommend or two for your audience.
Oh, man, I'll tell you what, I've been I've been so big into podcasting lately and I've been so big into reading up on tech like I'm big on how can I learn as much as I can about things that I don't know.
So I typically don't read fiction. I tend to read biographies.
I was big into the president's I love reading about JFK, Abraham Lincoln, people who accomplished things that blow your mind, especially given the time in which they lived and the challenges they were dealing with.
So a big biography guy. And I'm also big on current events, so I spend a lot of my time reading as much as I can about sports. I was a big basketball fan probably before a lot of my friends because, you know, basketball is one of those that I would I would see a headline on ESPN and you read it.
You're like that. Just scratch the surface and then you go to Barstow to find out what really happened. Right. So I'm very diverse and what I consume and how I consume. And I read The Wall Street Journal the morning and then I go to Bar Stool and I go to ESPN like I'm all over the place. But when I have free time, I'm typically reading biographies on people that I find really in coffee or tea.
Ahmeti I never had a cup of coffee in my life. What's.
Wow. Yeah, I know it's weird favorite movie of all time until I read in that grace period. This will sound like an answer. It's never no I've had a sip and I didn't like the taste, so I never did again. I'd like Binge on Mountain Dew in college while staying up late Paperman anyway.
So many good ones. Shawshank Goodfellas.
Those are my top two guys over your last meal.
Man Probably my wife's chicken tacos. Oh, there you go. I mean, she just got it perfected guacamole. Like everything is perfect. I love that I'm a Mexican food stop growing up out west so she knows how to do it. I love it.
All right. Last last year when the whole WikiLeaks thing happened, were you like, fuck, this sucks.
Last names like everyone, Edward Snowden, this is going to be a big deal for me, not a common surname like that old thing. Then the movie comes out. Yeah, it's like kind of sucks because like. Yeah, yeah. Anyway, I would say it never crossed my mind until the first time I went to I travel a lot and the first time I watch the airport after WikiLeaks and for the next six months. Yeah, I had to go through hell everyone.
The Pat Downs guy. Yeah.
He's like, are you related. No. Yeah right. Pat you down before you get on. So that kind of sucked but whatever.
Yeah. I mean I think of it all the time so I really do not see your name on the site which is related. Yeah. What would say.
Congrats. I mean I honestly think this is one of the great great acquisition in our generation because I think you're got to look back in fifteen years of saying I was able to buy this great company for only four hundred and fifty million dollars.
Congrats. Really excited for you. And I know you're just scratching the surface. Yeah.
Thank you. Best of luck. I'm a huge Yankee fan too, so we'll talk about that. Yes. Thank you. We go. Thanks, Jay. All right.
Thanks. We get.