Barstool Sportsbook Takes Down ‘Can’t Lose’ Bet In Massachusetts

Written By Dan Holmes on March 15, 2023 - Last Updated on August 8, 2023

With online sports betting now active in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission is turning its attention to oversight of sports betting operations. On Wednesday, the commission discussed possible unlawful action by Barstool for using “unfair or deceptive” messaging in a sports betting offer.

Earlier this week, in advance of the NCAA Tournament, Barstool promoted a “Big Cat Can’t Lose” wager in Massachusetts which featured odds for early round March Madness games. Dan “Big Cat” Katz is a host of a Barstool podcast. He also appears in public appearances for the brand.

The use of the term “can’t lose” is at the heart of the alleged violation by Barstool in Massachusetts.

SBC Americas was first to report on the potentially problematic Barstool Sportsbook promo.

Barstool is one of six sports betting apps in Massachusetts, and is owned by PENN Entertainment. In addition to its mobile sports betting app, Barstool has a retail sportsbook at Plainridge Park Casino.

Barstool has pulled its “Can’t Lose” bet in Massachusetts and all other states where its app is live.

Why a ‘Can’t Lose’ promo is problematic

Loretta Lillios, Chief Enforcement Counsel and Deputy Director of the Investigations and Enforcement Bureau for the MGC, reported on findings regarding the alleged violation by Barstool.

Lillios mentioned Massachusetts gaming regulations that prohibit advertising language that misleads the public, specifically those that are “unfair or deceptive” or could be “reasonably expected to confused patrons.” The alleged conduct by Barstool could have violated gaming regulations that ban messaging for MA sportsbook promos that suggest sports wagering is “free of risk” in nature.

According to Lillios, the Massachusetts office of the Attorney General has taken quick action on the alleged activity by Barstool. The AG testified to the IEB, citing consumer protection law and indicating that sports betting operators must “operate within the context of existing laws and regulations.”

The MGC did not conduct an evidentiary hearing on March 15 on the matter. It limited discussion to what steps the commission will take. The MGC could suspend, revoke or amend the sports operators license, or impose a fine.

The IEB can take further action. It can recommend a remedy for any violations of state gaming law. In the latter case, an adjudicatory proceeding would take place, if the sports betting operator wishes.

RELATED: 3 FanDuel Massachusetts Ads Potentially Violate Sports Betting Laws

Barstool previously fined $250,000 in Ohio

The alleged behavior by Barstool in Massachusetts, only days after MA mobile sports betting launched, comes on the heels of misconduct by the operator in Ohio.

In February, PENN Entertainment paid a $250,000 fine to Ohio after Barstool promoted its sportsbook app near University of Toledo. Such a promotion, which included a live appearance by Barstool personalities near campus, broke Ohio sports gaming laws.

Massachusetts has similar regulations on its books to prohibit events and advertising targeted at consumers under the age of 21. The alleged incident in Massachusetts does not involve such activity.

ALSO READ: Dave Portnoy, Big Cat Coming To Massachusetts For Barstool Sportsbook Launch

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Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes is a Staff Writer for PlayMA with plenty of experience under his belt. Dan has written three books about sports and previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball. He also has extensive experience covering the launch of sports betting in other states, including Ohio and Maryland. Currently, Dan is residing in Michigan with his family.

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