The Chernin Group is exploring the sale of Barstool Sports to a gambling operator, two sources have told The Big Lead. One source said talks were in advanced stages (as always with these things, until they're finalized with pen to paper there is the possibility that they fall through). Barstool founder Dave Portnoy and CEO Erika Nardini did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Right now it is unclear which gambling operator is the most likely suitor for Barstool, and whether Chernin Group would be selling a majority or minority stake in the business.
Chernin Group, led by longtime former Fox executive Peter Chernin, purchased a majority stake in Barstool in early 2016. Two years later, Chernin bought more of Portnoy's shares of the company in a deal that valued Barstool at $100 million.
Sports gambling talk has always been a big part of Barstool, since it was a print newspaper that Portnoy was hustling around Boston T stations. In recent years, they have done the program Barstool Sports Advisors, first on FanDuel's network TVG and later on their own site. They regularly do live shows centered around big games at sportsbooks in New Jersey.
This past July, Barstool hired David VanEgmond away from FanDuel, where he had been EVP/head of strategy. Barstool Bets, which has thus far been a free-roll gambling platform where users can win cash prizes, launched in September.
In the race for user acquisition, it is easy to see how Barstool would have value for a gambling operator. They have an engaged fan base and the content can exist as a funnel -- for example, we see this happening with Fox Sports personalities and Fox Bet -- especially as widespread adoption of mobile gambling picks up across the United States.