Barstool nets long-awaited Massachusetts sportsbook license approval
Bay State regulators conditionally approve Penn Entertainment subsidiary amid focus on responsible gambling
Barstool Sports has been conditionally awarded a sports betting license by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) following a substantive review process.
The license award was unanimously confirmed Wednesday following a two-day suitability review into the sportsbook operator.
Barstool becomes the fourth operator to gain a license in the Bay State following the lead of BetMGM, Caesars and WynnBet, that have all gone through a similar licensing process.
During the review, executives from Penn Entertainment which initially made the application on behalf of Barstool were repeatedly questioned about the firm’s responsible gambling track record, and the relationship between the Barstool Sportsbook and Barstool Sports, founded by Dave Portnoy.
The MGC took executives of Penn Entertainment, which will purchase a controlling stake in Barstool during the first quarter of 2023, to task over the reputation of Portnoy and Barstool’s business practices.
The relationship recently became the subject of a prospective fine in newly launched Ohio, where the Ohio Casino Control Commission mooted a $250k fine over promoting underage gambling in the state.
Barstool has also become the subject of a number of articles in The New York Times, all things which have drawn increased scrutiny.
In support of its application, Penn confirmed that its betting policy has been adjusted to remove the term “risk-free” from its advertising and marketing, with Penn’s VP of legal and business affairs Michael West defending the business.
“We know that we’re not perfect, and have made mistakes in the past,” West said in testimony before the MGC.
“We own those mistakes. We’ve learned from them. And we strive to continue to be an industry leader in responsible gaming,” he added.
Following the two-day long hearing, the license was approved on a conditional basis, subject to Barstool meeting five specific conditions.
These include the full cooperation of Penn with the MGC’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau (IEB) over an investigation into Barstool branding, as well as updating the regulator on the status of a lawsuit in Illinois.
Barstool must also provide the MGC with information on its diversity goals across its workforce as well as providing information on what strategies it might use across its supplier footprint to encourage diversty.
In a nod to its Ohio travails, Barstool must also ensure that no one under the age of 21 attends any of its Live College Football shows in the state.
Sports betting online will go live in Massachusetts from March.