Penn stock plummets as Barstool’s Portnoy claims sidekick fired for racial slur

By: - May 4, 2023 2:55 pm

Screenshot of Dave Portnoy social media post labeled “Emergency Press Conference – Ben Mintz Has Left the Building”

Penn Entertainment’s stock slid more than 13% Thursday after Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy announced Wednesday that Penn instructed Barstool to terminate one of Portnoy’s  sidekicks for publicly using the n-word. 

“Today we had to fire Ben Mintz,” Portnoy says in a video posted Wednesday on Twitter  describing how Mintz, a social media host, “rapped a racial slur,” while live streaming. “He turned white as a ghost.”

Penn Entertainment purchased Barstool Sports in part in 2020 and in whole this year. Penn operates the M Resort and more than 40 casinos in a number of states.

Social media posts reveal Portnoy, known for misogynistic and racist slurs, has repeatedly used the n-word himself.

Penn did not respond to requests for comment about Portnoy’s past statements.  

“Bottom line is this, I hate the decision. I don’t agree with the decision, but it’s not my decision to make and when we sold Barstool to Penn, we knew what came with it,” Portnoy said in the video. “But I don’t deal with the things Penn deals with in terms of state regulators etc.”

“His description of Penn’s rationale for axing Ben Mintz is generally on point,” says gaming columnist David McKee of the Las Vegas Advisor. “The one thing he exaggerates is that they could lose gaming licenses over isolated use of the n-word. That doesn’t happen.”

While Portnoy’s video suggests he was asked by Penn to terminate Mintz, it’s unclear what role Portnoy holds with the company. 

“He’s not a Penn executive, but he is an employee of the company,” says McKee. “They figured the reward of having his name continue to be associated with Barstool outweigh the risks that come with doing anything with Dave Portnoy.”

The Nevada Gaming Control Board, which did not respond to requests for comment, has largely ignored Portnoy’s behavior as he becomes the face of Penn Entertainment. But Casino regulators in other states have taken notice.   

Penn Sports Interactive (PSI), which operates Barstool Sportsbook, received preliminary approval from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in January for a temporary mobile sports betting license after delays and a review of issues – including statements made by Portnoy – about compulsive gambling, women, rape, and minorities. 

Ohio casino regulators fined Penn $250,000 for targeting university students in November 2022 to sign up for its sportsbook. 

The Indiana Gaming Commission levied a $10,000 fine against Barstool Sportsbook in 2021 over a TikTok post by an employee regarding gambling losses.

“We know that we’re not perfect, and have made mistakes in the past,” Penn Entertainment executive Michael West said to Massachusetts regulators in December of last year. “We own those mistakes. We’ve learned from them. And we strive to continue to be an industry leader in responsible gaming.”

“There he is. That’s Mintzy,” Portnoy tweeted Thursday morning as Penn Entertainment’s stock plunged. 

Thursday morning Penn announced first quarter earnings that were “slightly better than expected. So a drop that steep wouldn’t be caused by a less than overwhelming quarterly filing,” according to McKee, who adds Penn stock, down 11% for the year, has been “underperforming for a long time.”  

“The drop off in the stock price today happened too close to when Portnoy dropped all those F-bombs to be a coincidence,” McKee said of Portnoy’s video. “I think that what this incident may have shown to investors is what a loose cannon Portnoy is and the problems of having him inside the tent at Penn.” 

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Dana Gentry
Dana Gentry

Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.