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Barstool Sportsbook Approved for Massachusetts Online Sports Betting License

Robert Linnehan

by Robert Linnehan in Sports Betting News

Updated Jan 4, 2023 · 10:49 AM PST

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  • Barstool Sportsbook and Penn Sports Interactive were approved for an online sports betting license
  • The online sports betting license will be tethered to the PENN Entertainment-owned Plainridge Park Casino
  • Barstool Sports will have to undergo background and suitability checks

Penn Sports Interactive and Barstool Sportsbook have been approved for a Massachusetts online sports betting license after intense questioning from members of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission regarding the company’s responsible gaming strategy and diversity goals.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission unanimously approved the tethered online sports betting license application for Penn Sports Interactive (PSI), which operates Barstool Sportsbook. The license is dependent on several conditions, much like the retail sports betting license approved for PENN Entertainment’s Plainridge Park Casino, which uses the Barstool brand for its sportsbook.

The commissioners agreed that Barstool Sports will have to fully cooperate with a thorough background and suitability investigation from the Massachusetts Investigation and Enforcement Bureau (IEB) when it is acquired by PENN Entertainment in February. Additionally, Barstool Sports will have to take specific measures moving forward that only individuals 21 years of age or older attend any Barstool Sports College Football shows.

Several other workforce diversity goals were also added as conditions of the licensure.

“We thank everyone for their candid reports today,” Massachusetts Gaming Commissioner Chair Cathy Judd-Stein said.

Barstool Sportsbook Likely Coming to Massachusetts

The Barstool Sportsbook/PSI application is the fourth tethered online sportsbook license approved by the commission in the last week. Barstool Sportsbook Massachusetts is likely set to arrive sometime in early 2023.

The commissioners will continue their meeting today and start its hearing on the Fanatics tethered online sportsbook license application, which will also be tethered to the Plainridge Park Casino.

The commissioners approved the application following a lengthy executive session where details of a pending lawsuit in Illinois against PENN Entertainment and a 2021 social media violation in Indiana were discussed.

Commissioner Eileen O’Brien questioned the operator about a 2021 incident in which a Barstool affiliate posted a TikTok video about gambling losses on the app. PENN self reported the incident last March and was fined $10,000 for the violation.

The video was live for 12-hours before it was noticed and removed from the site. PSI’s representatives discussed specific safeguards that have been implemented to ensure the violation would not again take place in the executive session.

As she did for the retail sports betting application, O’Brien focused on PSI’s responsible gaming strategy and how the company would move forward to ensure Barstool Sports would adhere to responsible gaming rules in their own marketing surrounding materials like a Barstool Sportsbook promo code, for example.

It’s clear PSI monitors Barstool’s social media for gambling content, O’Brien said, but is it also monitored for responsible gaming content? She urged PENN to monitor all of Barstool Sports content to ensure it doesn’t reflect poorly on PENN’S own branding.

Benjie Levy, Head of Penn Interactive, said PENN will fully take control of Barstool Sports in February and all of its media content will be monitored at that time.

Commissioners Focusing on Diversity

The Massachusetts Gaming Commissioners largely focused on PSI’s diversity and diversity goals moving forward. As it stands, 27% of Penn Sports Interactive’s 1,110 employees are women and 30% of managerial positions are held by women.

Commissioner Jordan Maynard said PSI will have to set goals in terms of vendor diversity spend, as the commission has required of other applicants. Levy agreed to the condition, but said it would take the company time to honor the request.

Commissioner Nakisha Skinner also requested PSI set goals to diversify its workforce moving forward.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion “is a big issue for us,” Commissioner Brad Hill said. He warned PSI these issues would not go away and the operator would be expected to move towards the goals laid out by the commission as it moved forward in the commonwealth.

Online Sports Betting Still Set for March

No specific dates were mentioned, but the Massachusetts Gaming Commission still has its sights set on a March start for online sports betting. The commissioners affirmed the goal in a meeting last week and no new information to the contrary was presented today.

The commissioners hope to launch online sports betting prior to the NCAA basketball tournaments, which are set to tip off on March 14, 2023.

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