Barstool’s 'Can’t Lose' parlays questioned by Massachusetts gaming regulators

June 8, 2023
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The Massachusetts Gaming Commission held an adjudicatory hearing over the 'misleading' title of a betting product.

Barstool Sports’ “Big Cat’s Can’t Lose Parlay” was a feature of the sportsbook since 2019, named after sports personality Dan “Big Cat” Katz. Massachusetts gaming regulators have now held an adjudicatory hearing with Barstool owner, Penn Sports Interactive (PSI), over whether the betting product name is misleading advertising.

Meant as an ironic homage to Katz’s unlucky gambling history, the “can’t lose” parlay title has not been used in Massachusetts since March 10, as regulators questioned whether bettors understood either the terms or the reference.

He continued, “No reasonable member of the public would think that Cap’n Crunch Berries are actually made of berries. Viewed in context, no reasonable person would take ‘Can’t Lose Parlay’ as a factual assertion that this is a risk-free or reduced-risk wager.

“We respectfully submit that no reasonable person, who saw a parlay with long-shot odds that required a player to win not one, not two, not three but four bets, or lose the parlay, would have concluded that they were engaging in a risk-free, sure-thing type of bet.”

The name was brought to the attention of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) during the NCAA March Madness tournament. The MGC regulations prohibit marketing that implies wagers are free of risk or “tends to deceive or create a misleading impression whether directly, or by ambiguity or omission.”

The term “reasonable person” was called into question by Commissioner Brad Hill. With sports betting only launching in Massachusetts last March, he stated that people new to betting may not know Katz’s track record with gambling losses.

Hill claimed a majority may be aware of the satire, but that even if only 10% of bettors are not in on the joke, a regulator’s job is “to ensure that 10% who has a responsible gaming issue, who has a mental health issue, who is young and doesn’t always make the right decisions” is aware of the true nature of a wager.

PSI could face a civil administrative penalty, conditions on its sports betting license, penalty fines or the revocation of its license. Commissioners will issue a final ruling in writing.  

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