As Penn National is looking to fully acquire Barstools Sports, the two companies find themselves under investigation by gaming regulators in Indiana and Nevada. Before the acquisition goes through, gambling commissions in these two states are looking into allegations of sexual misconduct against Barstool founder Dave Portnoy.
Penn National already owns 36% of Barstool and is in the process of acquiring the whole sports media company. Among other assets, barstool Sports also include sports betting app. However, the takeover has run into some obstacles. The chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, Brin Gibson, recently said that the Board has requested additional information from Penn National regarding accusations against Portnoy. Gibson added that it’s the Board’s responsibility to the reputation and integrity of both the state and its gaming industry. At the same time, the Indiana gaming regulators are conducting an investigation of their own. The Indiana Gaming Commission said that Penn National Gaming has been notified of their concerns and that the commission will continue to review any new information on the matter.
On the other hand, Jay Snowden, the chief executive of Penn National, said that the company has responded to all of the regulators’ requests and continues to keep them updated on all emerging information. Snowden added that they stand by Portnoy and view the Barstool’s founder as a “very honest” person. The partnership has grown even stronger as Penn’s executives see the sports media empire as a crucial part of the company’s future.Also, check out Legal Online Gambling Affecting NCAA March Madness Match-Fixing on our weekly podcast.
The whole issue started in November last year when Insider published a story detailing Portnoy’s sexual misconduct. According to the report, Portnoy has engaged in aggressive sexual encounters with several women and also filmed some of them without consent. The media outlet also released a follow-up to the story in January, with three more women accusing Portnoy of sexual misconduct.
In the articles, Insider interviewed more than 20 women with experience with Portnoy and Barstool, with eight of them currently or formerly employed with the company. Some of them testified to having sexual encounters with Portnoy which turned into humiliating and frightening experiences. For most of them, those encounters left permanent damage to their mental health. Two women reported that Portnoy chocked and filmed them without consent, while the other said that the encounter with Portnoy led to depression and suicidal thoughts. One of the women even claimed the barstool found broke her rib during sex.
Dave Portnoy has categorically denied the accusations since the story surfaced. He released a video response and sent the letter to the Insider explaining his side of the story. Portnoy claims that everything that happened was consensual and that he never filmed a sexual act without prior knowledge of his partner. He also filed a lawsuit against the Insider and their journalist who wrote the piece, Julia Black.
With the investigation still in process, many believe that these accusations could be a real problem, especially with the regulators’ policy on preventing sexual harassment in the gambling industry.