Barstool Sports (Penn Entertainment) has announced it is dropping its “Can’t Lose Parlay” promotion in Massachusetts after the Massachusetts Gaming Commission revealed it was exploring potential penalties for the offer falling foul of state gambling regulations.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s Investigative Bureau Director Loretta Lillois stated that sports betting operators in MA are prohibited from marketing that “would reasonably be expected to confuse or mislead patrons in order to induce them to bet.” In addition, as is the case in several US states, marketing anything as “free of risk in general or in connection with a particular promotion” is not allowed. With responsible gaming continuing to emerge as a hot topic across the country, ‘risk-free’ and ‘can’t lose’ language has come under immediate scrutiny in states such as Ohio.

The ‘Can’t Lose Parlay’ is effectively championed and owned by the ‘Pardon My Take’ podcast, hosted by Dan Katz (also known better as Big Cat). The podcast is run on Barstool’s media network, although it has previously been established that due to contract structure that Katz does not count as an employee of Penn, so is therefore allowed to wager with Barstool and promote it accordingly.

Previously, Penn’s CEO Jay Snowden told the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in December: “Katz comes up with a Can’t Lose Parlay every week. He’s also, admittedly, one of the worst gamblers on the planet. And so it’s meant to be funny. It’s not meant to be viewed as can’t lose.”

It does, however, seem that the MGC do not find the language used as amusing as Snowden, and although Barstool have said the promotion is suspended ‘for the time being’, it’s unlikely that the promotion will return anytime soon given the language used.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has been busy since the launch of both MA retail and mobile sportsbooks. There are currently three retail venues offering sports betting, the MGM Springfield, Encore Boston Harbor and Plainridge Park Casino which all were found to have offered illegal markets within hours of launching. Largely, the illegal markets (relating to college games and regulations) were small, but the MGC has made sure to flag and investigate them fully to ensure they do not blossom into anything larger.

Similarly, the March 10th launch of mobile sports wagering in Massachusetts was vital as it gave the perfect opportunity to stress-test the system before March Madness, one of the US biggest betting events of the year. The AGA suggest that March Madness will be a larger betting event overall, but with regards to commercial betting operations it will come in slightly smaller than the recent Super Bowl LVII.

Massachusetts has become the latest state to undergo an online launch successfully, although only six of the ten licensed operators launched on time. Commercial operators talk constantly about the big three states undergoing legalization: Florida sports betting, California sports betting and Texas sports betting. With the three most populous states in the entire United States not allowing legal sports wagering, the Total Addressable Market (‘TAM’) is locked far beyond it’s potential commercial reach.

What will 2023 bring? Only time will tell.