By Alexandria Hoff

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — An investor is placing his bet on Philadelphia and a new kind of sports gambling experience. There’s capital, and then there’s the capital — one can describe wealth, the other an important place. For sports gambling, Philadelphia has become that place.

“It’s much better that it’s now coming into the light,” sports betting investor Paul Martino said.

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Local casinos like Parx and Rivers now host their own sportsbooks. The ability to do so was granted when the Supreme Court overturned a ban on sports betting in 2018.

“When we did the Penn deal there were a couple states that were being thrown around. Indiana was one,” said Barstool Sports Founder Dave Portnoy.

But the win went to Pennsylvania. In August of this year, media giant Barstool Sports announced a move to Philly to launch the Barstool Bets app as a part of the Penn National Sportsbook.

“We were adamant on the Barstool side that we wanted to launch in Philadelphia,” Portnoy said.

It was a move that solidified something that Martino already knew.

“Right here will be the epicenter for sports betting in the United States,” Martino said.

Martino is the Doylestown-based founder of Bullpen Capital.

“That company we invested in when it was worth $8 million is now worth $25 billion,” Martino said.

He’s talking about the sports betting company FanDuel. Martino is now placing his bet on Philly and a new kind of sports gambling experience in Center City.

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“How could we build a really tech-infused, high-end sports bar on steroids that you would want to take Instagram pictures of? That’s the concept of Bankroll,” Martino said.

Martino and fellow investors are still scouting downtown real estate to house Bankroll’s massive footprint. They’ll also need a restaurant and a sportsbook partner.

“Ultimately, Bankroll is not going to be taking money on site. You are going to be betting on your phone or with kiosks or with iPads,” Martino said.

Yes, he says, COVID-19 has thrown a curveball, but …

“Our hope is that we are up and running for the Super Bowl 2022,” Martino said.

With Bankroll and Philadelphia’s newly-crowned status as the sports betting capital of the U.S., Martino sees it all as capital generating for the city and region, as well as a way to help a wider audience better understand the game.

“Five bucks on the Eagles, that’s easy. I’m done, don’t tell me anything else,” Martino said.


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