Plainridge Park granted temporary gambling license, must cooperate with Barstool Sports investigation

Plainridge Park was granted a temporary license, but officials voiced concerns over the casino's ties to Barstool Sports.

A Barstool Sportsbook at the L’Auberge Casino in Baton Rouge, La. Similar operations could soon be coming to Plainridge Park Casino. Amir Hamja/The New York Times

Gaming officials on Tuesday granted a temporary license to Plainridge Park Casino, allowing it to take in-person sports bets in January. Plainridge Park is the last of the state’s three casinos to receive an in-person license, along with  Encore Boston Harbor and MGM Springfield. 

However, there were two key conditions around the license concerning Plainridge Park’s connection with Barstool Sports and its controversial founder, Dave Portnoy. 

Members of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) voted unanimously in favor of declaring Plainridge Park “preliminarily suitable” for a Category 1 sports wagering operator license, according to the MGC. Plainridge Park and PENN Entertainment, which owns the casino, must fully cooperate with the MGC’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau as it conducts an investigation into Barstool Sports. 


Earlier this year, it was reported that PENN is in the process of buying the rest of Barstool after it initially purchased 36% of the company in 2020, according to Fox Business. PENN will operate its sportsbook at Plainridge Park under the Barstool brand name. 

But commissioners have expressed concern about Barstool’s branding and Portnoy’s public comments regarding gambling.

 “When we talk about Mr. Portnoy putting out all this money or losing, some of the comments he’s made in the past fly in the face of responsible gaming,” Commissioner Brad Hill said at Monday’s hearing, according to CBS Boston

The MGC also stipulated that no one under the age of 21 be allowed to enter any live Barstool College Football Show events. PENN CEO Jay Snowden admitted that, as recently as last week, Barstool was not checking IDs at live audience college football events, CBS Boston reported. 

Portnoy, still the well-known public face of Barstool, has been vocal about his past gambling problems. The MGC first considered Plainridge Park’s application earlier in December, but commissioners delayed a vote over concerns regarding PENN’s purchase of Barstool and Portnoy’s status as a spokesperson for the brand, according to The Boston Herald


“I’ve made pretty clear I want a full suitability review of Barstool,” Commissioner Eileen O’Brien said Monday, according to CBS Boston. 

Massachusetts regulators have also voiced concerns regarding allegations of Portnoy’s sexual misconduct, as initially reported by Insider

Portnoy, a self-described “degenerate gambler” and Barstool were at the center of a recent New York Times investigation into the lightly regulated sports betting world. PENN, according to the Times, is harnessing Portnoy’s personality and popularity to extend its influence and reach new, younger gamblers. Portnoy and Barstool’s large following among college-aged men proved a logical fit. 

But multiple industry watchdogs told the Times that Portnoy is encouraging reckless gambling to young men, a demographic researchers have found is more likely to fall victim to problem gambling.


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