Barstool sports betting is no stranger to drama, and drama it got before being allowed to enter the Massachusetts market.
At 5:40 p.m. today, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) tweeted that it granted Plainridge Park Casino (PPC) a “temporary Category 1 sports wagering operator license.”
However, unlike other operators given temporary operator licenses, MGC placed two conditions on PPC:
Commissioners required that the licensee agrees that no persons under the age of 21 will be permitted entrance into any live Barstool College Football Show events. Additionally, the licensee must fully cooperate with the [Investigations and Enforcement Bureau] IEB, which will conduct an investigation of Barstool Sports, Inc. in connection with the licensee’s branding.
That said, MGC noted in the PPC announcement that retail sports betting is slated to launch next month. Then Massachusetts online sportsbooks are expected to go live in March.
PENN stock remained steady in after-hours trading.
Why PPC Has Conditions
On Dec. 6, commissioners expressed concern about Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports.
PPC may open a Barstool-branded retail sportsbook and host two online sports betting sites: Barstool Sportsbook and Casino and Fanatics.
Portnoy founded Barstool Sports and still provides publicity for the brand, which Penn Entertainment bought in August. The photo for this article is from the Barstool Sports site, where Portnoy blogs as “El Presidente.”
His association with the brand prompted commissioners to pause license consideration on Dec. 6 to determine the “suitability” of approving PPC.
Commissioners raised questions about the racino’s application primarily because of a Nov. 20 article in The New York Times.
The headline A Risky Wager: Desperate for Growth, Aging Casino Company Embraced ‘Degenerate Gambler’ precedes more than 4,000 words about Portnoy, Barstool, and Penn.
During that Dec. 6 meeting, a Penn spokesman tried to distinguish Barstool Media from Barstool’s gaming operations.
However, commissioners remained concerned today about the Times stating Portnoy and Barstool toured college campuses and touted betting to students.
The article mentions a September football game at the University of Tennessee:
[Portnoy] sat on an outdoor stage with other Barstool personalities and cans of High Noon, a vodka drink that he and Barstool are paid to promote. A raucous crowd of Tennessee fans yelled, cursed and pounded High Noon as Mr. Portnoy shared his latest wager: $100,000 on the University of Georgia to win the college football championship.
Portnoy’s Behavior Appears Unchanged
In today’s announcement approving the temporary PPC license, MGC said the licensee needs to ensure no one under 21 attends Barstool College Football Show events.
However, Cleveland.com reported this on Dec. 14:
Barstool Sportsbook may be hit with a $250,000 fine from state regulators because of a live event outside the University of Toledo’s football stadium.
The Ohio Casino Control Commission issued a notice of violation to Penn Entertainment, which takes bets under the Barstool brand name. Regulators say the company broke two rules; advertising on or near a college campus and targeting customers who are under 21.
Live-tweeting the MGC meeting, Matthew Waters of Legal Sports Report (LSR) linked to a video of the Barstool College Football Show in Ohio. A speaker told the college crowd that Barstool was “doing a little pre-registration” for the online sportsbook. Legal online sports betting is launching in Ohio on New Year’s Day.
Commissioner [Bradford R.] Hill specifically mentions Ohio. [Penn CEO and President Jay] Snowden said they were not there to promote the Barstool Sportsbook. The show’s host specifically gave out a sign-up code and told everyone to go get free money.
LSR‘s Sam McQuillan’s tweets seemed to show Snowden defending Portnoy against the Times coverage, as well. Snowden called the coverage that alleged Portnoy mistreated women and claimed he regularly made racist and misogynist comments “misleading reporting,” according to a letter Snowden sent the MGC.
Gaming Today‘s Rebecca Hanchett quoted Snowden from today’s hearing:
Headlines are one thing, and what you do is something different.
Meanwhile, at 7:16 p.m. today, Portnoy tweeted:
How is the Late Night With Delilah lady only 62? She seems like she should be at least 108 minimum
So even though the gambling industry tends to jettison staffers who endanger obtaining licenses, it appears Portnoy, Barstool, and Penn may remain linked.