Business By The Books: Barstool Sports Betting Faces Not Penn ‘Employees’

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Barstool Sports is now a wholly owned subsidiary of PENN Entertainment as of last month, but some of its most well-known personalities are not considered to be under the PENN umbrella for the sake of sports betting.

Barstool founder Dave Portnoy, Dan “Big Cat” Katz and a handful of other big names are not technically employees of Penn or Barstool, a Penn spokesperson told LSR:

“All the Barstool employees now become part of PENN, except for those who will be operating on loan-out agreements.”

Workaround for Barstool sports betting

Not allowing employees to bet on their own sportsbook is a pretty standard rule across US sports betting jurisdictions. That includes Massachusetts, the birthplace of Barstool, which launched online betting Friday.

That led Portnoy and some of the Barstool Sports crew to hold a live stream where they bet on conference tournament basketball to usher in online MA sports betting. Not everything went perfectly, though, as Portnoy took to Twitter to call out the new owners of his media brand for a delayed start:

“Hey @BSSportsbook when am I gonna be able to bet in Mass? I heard 10am. Still can’t bet. Waiting on you. Let’s go”

Those big-name Barstool personalities are key to Penn’s original customer acquisition plan for Barstool Sportsbook. The hope has been to organically bring “Stoolies” into the Barstool Sportsbook database as more states launch.

But Penn CEO Jay Snowden said handle share had “softened up a little bit” on the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call. Penn will be more visible from a marketing standpoint heading into NFL betting season, he added.

Who can still bet with Barstool?

There are 13 Barstool-affiliated people who can still bet on Barstool Sportsbook through loan-out agreements:

Disney continues to wait on sports betting

Disney is in no rush to get around to sports betting, CEO Bob Iger said at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference:

“There are opportunities, not for us to go into the betting business, but we’ve talked about this and it’s something that my predecessor was very interested in to incorporate elements. We’re already doing it, betting. Fox is doing it, too. I know Lachlan was here earlier, into the sports programming.

“I think that’s important for consumers, particularly young consumers. I mentioned earlier in another meeting, I have two sons who are 24 and 20. And it’s not just about fantasy sports, but they’re interested in it. And I prefer to wait as long as possible when I think about them – but I think it’s inevitable that there’ll be basically a seamlessness between sports programming and sports betting.”

Bloomberg reported in October that Disney and DraftKings were close to an exclusive “large new partnership.” But ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said he did not anticipate any deal was “imminent” at November‘s Sports Business Journal Media Innovators Conference.

AGA: 68 million will bet on March Madness

There will be 68 million Americans taking part in men’s March Madness betting this year, according to the American Gaming Association.

Those bettors will wager $15.5 billion in total, with 31 million Americans betting online, in-person or with a bookie. Another 21.5 million will bet casually with friends.

Filling out a bracket remains the most popular way to bet on the tournament, with 56.3 million planning to take part in a bracket contest.

Sportradar wins ATP data, sports betting streaming rights

Sportradar beat four other bidders for the global data and betting streaming rights to ATP tennis matches starting next year, according to a company news release.

The data provider previously was a secondary data feed provider since the start of 2022.

Sportradar will control the rights for six years. TDI and Sportradar still have to finalize contractual details before the new cycle starts Jan. 1.

More women’s markets bumped DraftKings handle

DraftKings saw its total handle jump 9% in 2022 after adding more than 200 women’s sports leagues to its online offerings.

Basketball and tennis dominated both handle and bets last year, the company said. The WNBA, US Open and Australian Open ranked first through third in both handle and bets.

College basketball was fourth in handle and fifth in bets, while Wimbledon was fifth in handle and fourth in bets.