Mass. regulators allow plan for Barstool-branded sportsbook to move forward — with conditions

Plainridge Park Casino, June 24, 2015. (Angela Rowlings/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images)
Plainridge Park Casino, June 24, 2015. (Angela Rowlings/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images)

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Happy winter solstice! We won’t have to wait long for the season’s first storm. The (relatively) good news is that the severe arctic storm blanketing much of the nation with frigid air and heavy snow will only be rain and wind by the time it gets to New England tomorrow night.

The Plainridge Park Casino is hoping to use the Barstool Sports brand to attract bettors to their sportsbook next year. However, the popular but polarizing media company and its founder David Portnoy have also turned out to be a bit of a headache for the Plainville slots parlor. Regulators at the Massachusetts Gaming Commission are allowing Plainridge’s application for an in-person sports betting license to move forward, but only after putting officials from the casino’s owner, Penn Entertainment (which also owns a stake in Barstool), through the wringer Tuesday — and attaching conditions to their initial approval.

  • Why? Regulators took issue with Portnoy’s history of comments and actions that — as Commissioner Brad Hill put it — “fly in the face of responsible gaming.” The company has also gotten in trouble in other states for marketing gambling to underage kids.
  • Penn President Jay Snowden conceded that they’re “not perfect” and that Portnoy is “not for everyone,” but argued the commission’s view of Barstool had been overly shaped by negative press coverage.
  • What’s next: While the commission signed off on sports betting licenses for Encore Boston Harbor and MGM Springfield over the past week, Plainridge’s license is conditional on Penn agreeing that no one under the age of 21 is allowed at future Barstool college football live shows and permitting a committee investigation into Barstool. The commission is aiming to launch in-person sports betting at the three casinos by late January.

PSA: Police in the Boston suburbs are advising residents against using those blue USPS collection boxes on the street — especially to send checks — after a recent series of mail thefts were reported in Needham and Wellesley. Investigators believe the thieves obtained the keys to the blue mailboxes, as part of a check fraud scheme.

  • If you need to send a check or any other important mail over the holiday season, police say to bring it physically inside the post office. And if you already sent something through one of those blue collection boxes in Wellesley or Needham, check in with the intended recipient to make sure they got it.

Three people — an 18-year-old and two coaches — are now being charged in connection to a hazing investigation that resulted in the cancellation of Haverhill High School’s football season this fall. Essex County prosecutors say the two coaches failed to report at least three separate hazing incidents — as required by law — and then tried to cover it up, including discouraging a victim from reporting it.

  • What’s next: Haverhill Police are also seeking charges against five minors, as school officials work to rebuild their football program.

P.S.— We officially wrapped up our fall 2022 events season last night. This year, WBUR CitySpace hosted everything from in-depth discussions, to debates, to concerts, to even a farmers market. In case you missed any of it, here’s a look back at our favorite events of 2022.

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Nik DeCosta-Klipa Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.



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