The parent company of Bangor’s Hollywood Casino has bought a $163 million stake in Barstool Sports Inc., a move that could allow the casino operator to enter into the growing sports-betting market.
The Wall Street Journal reports that deal gives Penn National Gaming, the parent company of Hollywood Casino, a 36 percent stake in the sports media company, which produces live blogs, podcasts, social media content and live events.
As part of the deal, which includes $135 million in cash and $28 million in stock, Penn National gets exclusive rights to use the Barstool Sports brand with sports-betting products, the Journal reports.
In three years, Penn National can increase its stake to 50 percent for an additional $62 million, according to the Journal.
The Journal reports that the deal sets up Penn National to “compete in the growing U.S. sports-betting market.”
The move comes after the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 struck down a federal law prohibiting betting on baseball, basketball, football and other sports, opening the door for states to grab a share of the nascent sports gambling market.
Already, at least 13 states have legalized some form of sports betting, including New Hampshire, where Republican Gov. Chris Sununu signed into law a sports-betting bill in July 2019. The first legal bet — Sununu wagered, incorrectly, that the New England Patriots would win the Super Bowl — was cast on Dec. 30, 2019.
Earlier this month, Democratic Gov. Janet Mills vetoed a bill, sponsored by state Sen. Louis Luchini, D-Ellsworth, to make Maine the 14th state to legalize sports betting.
In her veto message, Mills said she was “unconvinced at this time” that Mainers want to expand gambling, questioning the strength of protections in the proposal for youth and others who were vulnerable to overspending on sports betting or gambling addiction.”
The Legislature has yet to take up Mills’ veto.