Colorado Division of Gaming Sides With Barstool Sportsbook in Betting Dispute

Written By Ken Pomponio on 06/06/2022
CDOG investigation clears Barstool Sportsbook 060622

The Colorado Division of Gaming’s investigation has concluded.

More than a month after well-known Colorado bettor James Salinas filed a complaint regarding his treatment during an April visit to the Ameristar Casino’s Barstool Sportsbook in Black Hawk, the Department of Gaming has cleared Barstool of any wrongdoing.

As stated in correspondence sent to Salinas last week, it now considers the Colorado sports betting matter closed.

But that isn’t sitting well with Salinas, a Vegas Stats and Information Network show host.

“Ultimately, they (the Division of Gaming) decided this operator did nothing did beyond the bounds and would be considered illegal,” Salinas said Friday during a near-20 minute segment on VSiN’s A Numbers Game. “… They sided with the sportsbook on this. I really didn’t expect them to do anything. I know how bureaucracy works.

“… Nothing is going to come from this. They completely sided with the operator and I’m not surprised.”

PlayColorado has filed an open records request with the CDOG for a copy of the investigation report. 

Salinas was contacted Monday for further comment. But he is holding off as of now as he deals with “multiple media requests.”

Barstool Sportsbook also was contacted on Monday but did not return a message seeking comment.

It started with a pair of attempted wagers

Salinas, a Denver resident and longtime sports bettor, claimed on his April 23 VSiN show, Pro Football Blitz, that Barstool personnel engaged in unethical practices when he tried to place two NFL Draft bets earlier in the month at the retail sportsbook.

Not only did sportsbook personnel offer him lower-than-initially-stated betting limits, Salinas claims, but they also offered him less-favorable odds.

Salinas says he originally accepted the lower limits — from $3,000 down to $800 and $1,000 down to $500. However, he claims he immediately balked at the alleged steeper odds offerings — +100 to -129 and +350 to +250 — and left the sportsbook without making any bets.

That April 23 VSiN clip has received more than 224,600 views online.

The following week, the Division of Gaming received Salinas’ complaint and launched an investigation.

Outspoken Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy added fuel to the fire on May 10, when he downplayed the investigation and mocked Salinas on his Barstool podcast. “F*** that guy,” Portnoy said.

“He (Portnoy) popped off and had some things to say about me. He said some personal things about me and that’s what bothered me,” Salinas said Friday. “… The one thing they never did was dispute my account of what happened. 

“It was more of what we see in politics: Deflect and attack. They’re not going to be accountable — they’re going to deflect and attack.”

Salinas receives report findings 

As for the Colorado Division of Gaming’s investigative findings, Salinas said he was notified last week in a “long and tedious” message.

In the video clip of Friday’s Numbers Game show, part of the CDOG’s point-by-point numbered findings were posted on-screen: 

“4. At 11:16, the wager is sent to (the trade team) for processing. A message pops up that the bet is pending approval. It appears the Ticket Writer communicates this information to the guest.

“5. At 11:20, the bet comes back partially approved for $1,300 ($800 and $500 respectively). The odds did not change on the bet.

“6. It appears that the guest is then asked if he wants the partial bet. The guest nods. The ticket writer prints the ticket.

“7. The ticket writer and Assistant Manager then both look at the ticket. At this time, the guest indicates he wants the bets voided since he was not approved for the full amount.
(Investigator note: Unable to verify if the odds had changed or not at this point, no audio available and the video quality does not allow a view of the printed ticket. Given the complaint, it would make sense that patron changed his mind after seeing that the odds were different.)”

Alleged odds changes are key component

Salinas says the report — and the above points in particular — contain “fabrications” of what actually transpired.

“This is not true,” Salinas tells Alexander in the video. “Look at No. 7, it totally contradicts 5 and 6. (And) most interesting to me is investigator note on 7.”

As the report states, though, there was no audio recording of the attempted transaction. And the video feed isn’t completely clear. 

Regardless, those alleged odds changes — and whether or not they were reflected on a printed ticket — are at the heart of this dispute.

Colorado sports betting rules stipulate that “until terms are accepted by both parties, and the ticket is issued, the odds may change.”

Regulations also state that “any cancellation of wagers shall be reported to the Division.”

‘It’s bad business’

Salinas was particularly disappointed to hear that the CDOG considers this report and ruling “final.” He claims he’s responded with “scathing” return emails and invited a Division of Gaming representative to appear on his VSiN shows last weekend.

“If you’re investigating it, you just don’t let me one side and leave it at that,” Salinas says in Friday’s VSiN video clip. “I deal with investigations of things all the time. We get multiple sides of the story and we do multiple follow-ups.  I’m not getting another follow-up. They don’t want to me to have to follow up to all the points that were fabricated by Barstool.”

Salinas continues, saying there’s “a lot of gray area within the gaming rules that are all sided toward the operator and sportsbooks.

“Even with that, (Barstool) still (is) not going to have enough integrity to be accountable for how it actually transpired. They’re still going to put these falsehoods out there to cover themselves. Ultimately, they know it’s bad business, it’s bad practice. 

“As far as Barstool is concerned, you know exactly what you’re going to get as a sports bettor when you play with that book.”

Alexander also jumps in.

“Karma gets them in the end,” the show host says. “If you gave them truth serum, they’d rather we’d not have this platform. Because in the end, they are the ones who get the net negative on this however it is adjudicated in the end.

“… (People) can judge for themselves.”

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Ken Pomponio

Ken is a fourth-generation Coloradan and career sports journalist with more than 30 years covering the gamut from the preps to the pros. A lifelong Front Range resident and son of 1960s Denver Broncos season-ticket holders, he is a long-time sports betting enthusiast whose insight and passion shine through in his coverage at PlayColorado.

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