LSR Podcast: Barstool Sportsbook receives pushback on Massachusetts licence

Barstool Sportsbook hit a bump in the road in its mission to secure a sports betting licence in Massachusetts as the state continues to ponder which operators will be granted a licence. 

The Legal Sports Report Podcast team of Matt Brown, Adam Candee, and Dustin Gouker took a deeper look into why PENN Entertainment and its partner Barstool were unsuccessful with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and what it may mean for other operators interested in venturing into the Massachusetts market. 

Gouker notes that during talks with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission that there were “concerns” over the Barstool overall brand, which was founded and is based out of Massachusetts. 

Gouker explained: “There were concerns about the Barstool brand brought up. This comes out of the New York Times piece they did about the regulated sports betting market and specifically on its founder Dave Portnoy. 

“They have questions over the suitability of Barstool as a licensee, they talked about Barstool College Football Show that has college kids at it with alcoholic beverages which is pitching the sportsbook product, just a lot of questions.” 

It was highlighted during the commission’s hearing into Barstool’s licence application that they were concerned about the Barstool brand as Commissioner Eileen O’Brien was believed to be “disturbed” with the thought of Barstool becoming a licenced operator within the state. 

Gouker goes on to question the sustainability of PENN’s relationship with Barstool if they are unable to obtain a licence in a state they are based in. 

He said: “If Barstool does not get licenced in the state, PENN’s probably going to have to reevaluate its relationship there and the brand because if the brand they have paid a lot of money to promote sports betting for them and be the brand doesn’t get into the state and is causing them issues… that’s a bad scene, especially in a place like Massachusetts.”

Barstool as a brand has become a divisive platform over several years, with Candee being one of the individuals who is “repulsed” by how the brand behaves which he mentions could deter customers away from its sportsbook entirely.