Sports Betting

PENN Entertainment could face punishment for ‘risk-free’ comments made in March

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Rece Davis ESPN pic

On ESPN’s “College GameDay” show in March, host Rece Davis may have put the industry leader in a tough situation. Talking with betting analyst Erin Dolan, Davis mentioned her suggestion as a “risk-free investment”. That did not sit well with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. ESPN is facing possible penalties for a pair of separate sports betting violations. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission strictly prohibits the use of “risk-free” language when describing bets that have financial risk. Reece Davis quickly went on social media and tried to clarify that his comments were “tongue-in-cheek”.

Even with an apology, the Investigations Enforcement Bureau (IEB) has been asked to take a “deep dive” into other ESPN violations. Rece Davis said his comments back in March were a “throwaway line” and he was being facetious. Despite that, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission could not let his comments slide. Davis made an appearance on the Pat McAfee Show to clarify that he was not apologizing for his original comment. Rather, Davis said he clarified his statement on social media. How will that somewhat backhanded apology sit with the IEB and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission?

What other gambling issues have ESPN run into in the past?

In November 2024, ESPN ran into a problem when they accepted hundreds of prohibited wagers. They accepted 249 wagers worth $12,000 for 27 college basketball games involving a team not approved by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. The IEB was asked by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to give a possible penalty to PENN Entertainment. Gaming fines in Massachusetts have become more common. 

Last month, Fanatics Sportsbook was fined $10,000 for accepting a $50 future for Boston College to win a game. Additionally, Encore Harbor was fined $40,000 for college sports betting infractions relating to in-state teams. FanDuel is also facing possible penalties for accepting $11 in wagers for a future on Boston College Men’s basketball. They were able to void the small wager but FanDuel will likely still have to pay a penalty.

Can’t lose parlay gave PENN Entertainment trouble in the past

Before PENN partnered with ESPN Bet, they were with Barstool Sports. One of their personalities, Dan “Big Cat” Katz had a “Can’t Lose Parlay” that was featured in the Barstool Sportsbook. Eventually, PENN ran into some issues with the language used in the bet. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission wanted to ban Barstool from offering that bet. Eventually, they stopped offering that promotion. Since then, Barstool has partnered with DraftKings and PENN is with ESPN Bet.