When Dave Portnoy says, “F**k that guy,” people are going to listen.
They’re especially going to listen when the person he says it to is well-respected within the sports betting industry.
“Sticks and stones, what have you,” said James Salinas, the Colorado-based sports bettor, VSiN host, director of recreation for the city of Denver, and — most recently — the recipient of Portnoy’s foul-mouthed complaint. “But he doesn’t know me, I don’t know him. I guess I’m a little more old school. If I have a problem with somebody, it’s not something I’m going to put out there publicly.
“That’s how I grew up in the neighborhood I grew up in. You had a problem with somebody, you met in person and you settled it one-on-one. But it’s a whole new world of social media and not something I’m going to engage in.”
This guy, James Salinas, is not only a respected bettor, but a civil servant in Denver. I believe he is still Director of Recreation for the city.
Seems "bad for business" to attempt to discredit a city official from the largest and most influential city in the state.🤨
— Captain Jack Andrews (@capjack2000) May 11, 2022
Some background is needed, clearly. If you already know the story, skip ahead. But it’s a doozy.
Salinas appeared on VSiN on April 23, where he was asked by Brady Kannon about the NFL Draft markets, specifically that of edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeuax. Salinas then launched into a story about what happened to him when he attempted to get money down on Thibodeaux a week earlier at the Barstool Sportsbook at the Ameristar Black Hawk Casino.
To nutshell it: Salinas walked up to the counter, asked about limits, and was told he could bet whatever he wanted. So he bet $3,000 on Thibodeaux at +100 to be selected within the first five picks, and an additional $1,000 on Thibodeaux to be picked No. 2 overall at +350. Salinas said they took his money, printed the ticket, and then asked for his ID.
They never handed him the ticket.
A few minutes later, the counter person told Salinas the $3,000 bet had been limited to $800 and the $1,000 bet was dropped to $500. It gets worse: The +100 line was moved to -129, and the +350 line was moved to +250.
Suffice it to say, Salinas left without placing a bet. Days later, Thibodeaux wound up being selected fifth in the draft by the New York Giants.
A week later, ESPN’s David Purdum reported that the Colorado Division of Gaming was investigating the incident and tweeted out the applicable rules and regulations surrounding the issue.
Colorado Division of Gaming continues to review the actions taken by Barstool Sportsbook referenced above, in regards to an NFL draft bet that allegedly was voided and then offered at different odds. The bettor has filed a formal complaint.
Here are the applicable state regs: pic.twitter.com/hYxAMk34Dk
— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) May 12, 2022
Notable is the “if a ticket is issued by an operator” language. The ticket was printed, but never wound up in Salinas’ hands. Time will tell how that language is parsed.
And that was about that, until …
F**k that guy
“F**k that guy,” Portnoy said in reference to the Salinas incident on The Dave Portnoy Show With Eddie and Co. on May 11.
“It’s the draft. There’s all sorts of inside information. Listen: That’s what — a casino is in it to make money. This wasn’t a game that was just a normal line. He was literally just driving around different casinos trying to get as much action on what he thought was, like, inside, or information, on the draft. So they take his license, they see that he’s probably a sharp, and they want to limit him.
“That happened to me — not that I’m a sharp — when I was at one of their casinos. I tried to bet on NASCAR and they changed the odds and limited. He’s crying like a baby, but that happens everywhere.”
Imagine for a second a prominent brand ambassador and the face of a Sportsbook saying “fu*k that guy” about one of the nicest individuals (@roundingagain) in the industry. Quite the hill to die on and one reason why the bookie/bettor relationship is at an all-time low 🤦♂️ https://t.co/HJwrDlI6Te
— Jeffrey Benson (@JeffreyBenson12) May 11, 2022
Well, it doesn’t really, outside of a few “spinny wheel” instances. Sure, there are limits, and yep, sometimes they are ridiculous. But moving the line without taking at least some of the bet? Almost unheard of.
Regardless, Salinas told me he didn’t have the time or inclination to deal with it.
“I sat on it,” Salinas said. “I moved on. Then Brady brought up the draft, and I thought about then and figured the floor was mine, might as well talk about what happened. Then I moved on from it again, but VSiN took it, put a snippet out. I never thought it was going to go nearly as crazy as it has on Twitter. I’m not a big player on Twitter. There was no underlying covert action on my end.”
Salinas said Purdum reached out, asked if it was OK if he investigated the matter further, and while Salinas had no problem with that, he also was ready to — once again — put the matter behind him.
“I don’t have the time, energy, or capacity to take all this on,” he said. “To go deal with [the Colorado Division of Gaming], you have to go through this whole process, and I was like, ‘Man, I don’t have time for this stuff. I didn’t get the bet in, big deal, moving on.’
“I don’t know anything about Dave Portnoy. This had nothing to do with him. I don’t know in what capacity he works for the sportsbook; now I’m learning more. I had no clue who he was. But then it became personal. This is different now. This was me against the sportsbook, now it’s me against some guy.”
Portnoy, for the record, is the founder and head of the Barstool Sports media site, which is partly owned by Penn National Gaming. Penn National adopted the popular, if controversial, Barstool brand in launching its Barstool Sportsbook and uses Portnoy to promote it, but he has no official position running sportsbook operations.
Salinas, meanwhile, has now officially filed an official complaint with the Colorado Division of Gaming after learning of Portnoy’s comments.
“I think that’s where it was like, ‘Really? We’re going to go personal on this? You don’t know me, you don’t know anything about me. Why are you making these personal attacks?’” Salinas said. “I didn’t attack him, by any means. I was talking about the book. Yeah, I had some problems with the sportsbook. My biggest point of contention was not with the limits, but the fact they changed the price on me. That was my biggest contention from the get.”
One way or another
“My feeling is you can’t have it both ways,” said Robert Walker, the longtime bookmaker now with USBookmaking. “If you believe it’s an event where insiders have a huge advantage — and I believe that is the case — you only have two options. One, don’t offer it. Or two, offer it with very low limits.”
And, in fact, Portnoy himself said much the same thing later in the discussion on his podcast.
“How much does this annoy you knowing that you don’t have any direct control over it?” his co-host, Eddie Farrer, asked.
“I don’t know that I would’ve handled that any differently if I was the casino,” Portnoy responded.
“Yeah but if it was your sportsbook, I feel like you would’ve taken whatever action. Just knowing you, and knowing gambling,” Farrer countered.
Portnoy looked pained before answering
“I mean, this guy wasn’t betting much, so maybe, but … the NFL draft. Yeah, they said they would take a certain amount of limit, but … it’s not like chance. There’s information. Maybe they should’ve had smaller limits to begin with.”
And as for what actually happened, Walker probably speaks for the entirety of the sports betting community.
“What you can’t do is offer it at high limits and then get upset when sharp players do what they do,” Walker said. “Which is put you in your place.”
Also somewhat notable here: It was the newfangled online sportsbooks that were most aggressive in the NFL Draft prop market. Walker didn’t offer it, Circa came in with about 72 hours to go with a limited menu, and the SuperBook kept its options small.
We took 32 OV/UN draft positions with dime limits but you can shape the narrative however you want, Tim. I first and foremost speak as a BETTOR who is looking for a healthier ecosystem. I hope the Overs Club Jacket your boy Davey sent ya keeps you warm during the Denver winters!
— Jeffrey Benson (@JeffreyBenson12) May 11, 2022
“I’m surprised anyone offers it at all, honestly,” Walker said.
How much more Portnoy?
And while this incident is, admittedly, a little inside baseball within the gambling community, it’s obviously not Portnoy’s first misstep. Penn National Gaming bought the whole farm when it partnered with Barstool Sports, and has shown no remorse, even after dual Business Insider pieces that portrayed Portnoy as, at best, a sexual predator.
“We look forward to being owner of Barstool 100 percent. They have been a great partner for us,” Penn National CEO Jay Snowden said on a quarterly earnings call in February. Further, he told The Wall Street Journal in March that Portnoy will “remain involved in what Penn does in sports betting,”
For better or worse, the public at large sees Portnoy as Barstool Sportsbook, and with that comes this super-aggressive, shoot-from-the-hip, damn-the-torpedoes mentality.
It’s not always pretty.
“From where I stand, I’m not going to talk about anyone personally,” Salinas said. “This was about a multi-billion dollar conglomerate business whose business it is to take bets. I’m not yelling at ticket writers. They had nothing to do with this. There was nothing personal about this with me.
“It just bothers me, I guess,” he continued. “I don’t know — it’s the day and age we live in. Whether you have a radio show or a television show or Twitter or anything with a keyboard, just being critical and criticizing folks without knowing who they are. He doesn’t know me, I don’t know him. If I have a problem with somebody, I’m going to bring it up personally in a one-on-one setting. I’m not going to disparage anyone out there publicly, that’s not my style.
“I’m not familiar with Portnoy, I’m not familiar with his podcast. If he can make a living doing what he does and be successful, great. But if part of it is to disparage other people and that gets people interested … I’m not going there. That’s not how I operate.”