Barstool’s recent appearance at the University of Toledo caused its sportsbook owner Penn Sports to get hit with a 250k fine.
Penn Sports was informed of the fine by the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) last week in a notice that was obtained by Casino.org. According to the notice, the fine stems from Barstool hosting its college football show at the University of Toledo on Nov. 15, where the company reportedly promoted Barstool’s sportsbook to students and encouraged attendees to pre-register.
“In that show, Barstool advertised the Barstool Sportsbook by promoting pre-registration … including the offering of bonus cash for the Barstool Sportsbook and ‘mycash’ for Penn Entertainment Casinos related to sportsbook pre-registration,” the notice reads.
Sports betting is not legal in the state of Ohio until Jan. 1, 2023 and state law prohibits sports betting ads that target people under the age of 21. The notice sent to Penn Sports adds that Ohio’s administrative code “prohibits sports gaming advertising or promoting on college or university campuses in the state of Ohio, unless the advertising is generally available.” According to state regulators, the Barstool College Football Show violated Ohio law by promoting its sportsbook to college students at the University of Toledo.
A spokesperson for Barstool told the Akron Beacon Journal they “look forward to the opportunity to address this directly with the Ohio Casino Control Commission through its regulatory process.” Jessica Franks, a spokesperson for the OCCC, stated Penn has 30 days to challenge the fine, but as of Wednesday, the company had not responded to the Dec. 9 notice.
The 250k fine for Penn Sports comes as parent company Penn Entertainment is applying for a sports betting license in Massachusetts, a state where Barstool has arguably its largest footprint. Massachusetts approved the legalization of sports betting earlier this year and regulators are reportedly seeking to make sportsbooks available in the state’s casinos ahead of this NFL season’s Super Bowl.
Last week, however, the state’s gaming commission raised red flags over the application from Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville which is owned by Penn Entertainment, the parent company of Penn Sports and Barstool Sports. During the commission’s meeting, they expressed concern over the casino’s association with Barstool and founder Dave Portnoy, who was previously accused of sexual misconduct.
“You’re gonna have a Barstool’s-branded sports bar on the premises, according to the proposition that you guys are putting forward,” Commissioner Eileen O’Brien said according to GBH News. “And I’m concerned about some of the historical marketing associated with Barstool.”
Massachusetts gaming chair Cathy Judd-Stein supported O’Brien’s concern and cited the New York Times recent story on Barstool which detailed Portnoy’s personal gambling issues.
“So now we have an obligation to reconcile what is very available publicly as to Barstool and really the significant personality attached to Barstool and what we’re gonna do about it as we think about this application,” Judd-Stein said.
If the Massachusetts gaming commission was already hesitant about handing a sports betting license to a casino with ties to Barstool, this 250k fine from the OCCC for wrongfully promoting their sportsbook to students won’t help ease those concerns.