HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — A Penn Entertainment spokesman declined to comment Thursday, beyond a regulatory filing Wednesday and previous comments by the company, about the company’s plans to fully acquire Barstool Sports — and didn’t reply to a request for comment about Barstool’s founder, David Portnoy.
Portnoy is known for his philanthropy but also for allegations by multiple women, published in Business Insider, of sexual misconduct, including non-consensual sex acts. Portnoy has sued Business Insider for defamation.
Penn Entertainment was known until earlier this month as Penn National Gaming and initially purchased 36% of Barstool, with an option to acquire the rest. Penn Entertainment CEO Jay Snowden addressed the reports about Portnoy during a February conference call — primarily to discuss the company’s quarterly financial earnings — with stock analysts.
“The allegations are from anonymous sources made about Dave and his personal life, and Dave has responded publicly,” Snowden said. “If you have read or plan to read the article, I would just recommend that you also read and watch Dave’s response that he posted last night too.”
Snowden also noted that the article “dropped last night from the same paywall subscription-based publisher” — Business Insider — “as the last article, and which also happened to be on the same day of our earnings call exactly three months ago.”
In the video Snowden referenced, posted on social media platforms, Portnoy denied the allegations.
“Are they just going to keep lying?” he said. “Does it matter how much evidence I have that directly contradicts everything these girls say? Nobody seems to care.”
During the same February earnings call, Snowden also expressed optimism about the acquisition.
“We look forward to being the owners of Barstool 100%,” Snowden said. “They’ve been great partners of ours. It’s a hypergrowth sports media business.”
In early August, in his last public comments about the deal before Wednesday’s confirmation of the full takeover, Snowden described Penn’s rationale.
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“It’s a lot about cross-sell and monetization within sports betting and online casino,” he said.
Snowden didn’t elaborate: “We have a lot that we’ll share once we close on the Barstool transaction early next year,” he said.
Penn Entertainment’s regulatory filing Wednesday indicated the acquisition could be complete by February 2023. That announcement came on the same day as new figures revealing a modest 1% increase in overall gambling revenue in Pennsylvania for July 2022 compared to July 2021.
The figure, though, was driven by widely divergent underlying trends, including a 28% surge in in-person sports betting at casinos — which would include Barstool-branded sportsbooks within Penn Entertainment’s Hollywood Casinos in places like York — but a 45% decline in fantasy sports wagering, which occurs almost entirely online.
DraftKings, the largest fantasy sports platform in Pennsylvania, saw its fantasy sports revenue in the state decline 28% for July 2022 compared to July 2021; FanDuel, the second largest, declined 66%.