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Barstool in Hot Water Over ‘Can’t Lose Parlay’ Ad

Penn Entertainment’s Barstool Sportsbook is the latest regulated operator to learn that gaming regulators are getting very serious about “can’t lose” marketing. This comes after the Massachusetts Gaming Commission took the company to task over a series of promotions featuring Barstool Sports employee/media personality Dan Katz (aka, The Big Cat).

Katz is a Barstool Sports podcaster who regularly doles out “can’t lose parlays” to his listeners. This wouldn’t be a problem except for the fact that Barstool Sports, and Barstool Sportsbook, are owned by Penn Entertainment, a licensed sports betting operator. Massachusetts, which has some of the strictest laws in the US governing gambling advertising, does not allow employees of sportsbooks to wager with those same sportsbook, and also doesn’t allow “can’t lose” marketing.

Company officials say that Katz is good to wager at Barstool Sportsbook because he’s an employee of Barstool Sports, which is not part of Penn Entertainment. “It’s meant to be funny, it’s not meant to be pushing something viewed as ‘can’t lose. He’s one of the worst gamblers in the world, ”Penn CEO Jay Snowden told regulators in comments reported on by Legal Sports Report.

That type of humor may play well with the bros who take their sports betting advice from the Big Cat, but Massachusetts Investigations and Enforcement Bureau Director Loretta Lillios wasn’t laughing. She focused on those pesky gaming regulations that prohibit even “funny” no-lose promotions saying, “The area of concern right now is whether the ‘Can’t Lose’ aspect of the promotion runs afoul of statutory and regulatory language concerning consumer protections.”

“Penn did inform the IEB that they would voluntarily discontinue offering any ‘Can’t Lose’ wagers in Massachusetts or elsewhere for the time being. So right now, no ‘Can’t Lose’ wagers are being promoted by Penn.”

A hearing has been schedule to resolve the matter and it will certainly be watched by operators across the country as “no lose wager” promotions are becoming the target of regulatory interest in most regulated US markets.