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The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) met with Penn Entertainment this week to discuss the launch of ESPN Bet and their transition from Barstool Sportsbook. Penn and Barstool came under fire for a “Can’t Lose Parlay” promo earlier this year that has caused trouble. The MGC accused Barstool Sportsbook of violating their rules around advertising “risk-free” betting with the promotion. However, Barstool defended the promotion by saying it was satire. They claimed the on-air personality that created the parlay is known for being a terrible sports bettor, making the “can’t lose” moniker a joke instead of a serious guarantee.
“Big Cat’s Can’t Lose Parlay did not violate state law,” Penn Entertainment lawyer Jonathan M. Albano said of the promotion. “In context through the eyes of a reasonable consumer, we submit that [when they] saw a parlay that requires a customer to win not one, not two, not three, but four bets, no reasonable person would believe they were engaging in a risk-free activity.”
The MGC has now focused on how Barstool will operate until the ESPN Bet rebrand is completed. They have concerns over their promotions and how Penn will communicate to customers that the site will soon be changing. While the MGC praised Penn for its open communication with them over the upcoming change, they have also clarified that they are ready to move on from the Barstool brand.
The meeting between Penn and the MGC was focused on the upcoming launch of ESPN Bet, but the commission had questions about Barstool. Mainly, they wanted Penn to address claims from Barstool founder Dave Portnoy, who stated they were denied operator licenses due to their brands' infamous reputation. The claim was meant to account for some of their sportsbook’s failure, but the MGC wasn’t buying it.
MGC Commissioner Eileen O’Brien took time to question Penn Entertainment over Portnoy’s claims. They confirmed that they were not denied any operating licenses due to the Barstool brand, contradicting Portnoy’s public claims. While the false claim doesn’t affect the upcoming change, the MGC’s questioning shows how deep and bitter their battle with the Barstool brand has been.
Michael is an avid sports fan and a veteran bettor from Milwaukee. He learned the trade from his grandfather in Las Vegas as a kid and has turned that into a successful career. He cheers for all Wisconsin pro teams along with his Alma Mater Arizona State. He specializes in baseball betting, but has experience in football, basketball, and hockey as well. When he isn’t pouring over stats, he’s spending time with his two young children.More info on Michael Savio
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