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Charlotte Observer’s Rick Bonnell Dies Unexpectedly

Bonnell worked for the Charlotte Observer for 33 years.

Russ Heltman

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Courtesy: Charlotte Observer

The sports media world suddenly lost a consistent voice in Charlotte, North Carolina, Wednesday morning. Charlotte Observer sportswriter Rick Bonnell passed away in his home on Tuesday at the age of 63.  

Bonnell had written about every sport connected to Charlotte over the past 33 years. He was most beloved for his work on the Charlotte Hornets beat as they moved in and out and back into the city. Bonnell was the first beat writer hired to cover the team when they joined the league back in 1988. He served as president of the Professional Basketball Writers Association from 2007-09.

Scott Fowler penned an emotional tribute to his longtime colleague for The Observer: 

“To sit next to Bonnell at a Hornets game, as I did hundreds of times over the years, was like sitting next to a hilarious version of a Hornets Wikipedia page,” Fowler wrote about his friend. “Bonnell alternated between regaling me with his encyclopedic knowledge of the franchise with insightful and often very funny comments about the game we were watching. He was snarky when it was called for — and it was called for pretty often, because the Hornets lost a lot. Bonnell covered mostly losing seasons by the Charlotte franchise, including a 7-59 season that he survived ‘with some grace and sanity,’ as he wrote in his Twitter biography. When the Hornets were beaten by 30 points, Bonnell would sometimes say: ‘That was 7-59 bad.’”

As a displaced Hornets fan myself, Bonnell was vital for my connection to the team. Bonnell wrote the first of many game stories I read as a kid. His consistency and commitment to the craft never waivered. Bonnell never took himself too seriously, he always had time to answer a Hornets question on Twitter when I pestered him. The outpouring of support across sports media is because of the person Bonnell was.

“As much as any reporter I know, Rick was accurate, insightful, and fair,” said Observer editor Gary Schwab in the tribute piece. “That’s why Michael Jordan returned Rick’s calls.”

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Dave Portnoy: I Trust Penn Entertainment as Much as Ever

“Dave Portnoy is still an employee of Penn Entertainment. However, he has said publicly that he is unsure if the arrangement will continue after his contract expires in 2025.”

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Dave Portnoy may have had some public disagreements with Penn Entertainment, but he says that he still trusts the company to run Barstool. He took to Twitter earlier this week to dispel the myth that he is in a feud with the company.

“By the way everything I say or do nowadays is construed as me having beef with @PENNEntertain I 100% do not. Most of my net worth is still tied to $penn. The corporate woke overlord narrative is bullshit. They woulda never bought us in 1st place if that was true. I trust them now as much as when they bought us.”

Portnoy has not been shy about criticizing the company’s decision to fire Ben Mintz after Mintz said the n-word while reading rap lyrics. Several supporters, including Dana White, noted that it is the kind of decision that only happens when corporations take over creative enterprises.

Earlier this week, Dave Portnoy announced that he had hired Ben Mintz as the first employee of Brick Watch Company. Mintz was emotional in making the announcement. The decision was not made to stick it to Penn Entertainment according to Portnoy. 

Penn first acquired a stake in Barstool in 2020. It invested $163 million at that time for a 36% stake. Earlier this year, it completed its acquisition, investing an addition $388 million for the remaining 62% of the company.

Dave Portnoy is still an employee of Penn Entertainment. However, he has said publicly that he is unsure if the arrangement will continue after his contract expires in 2025.

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Multiple State Regulators Push Back on Effort to Legalize Gambling on WWE

“In March, Alex Sherman of CNBC reported that WWE had meetings with regulators in Colorado and Michigan.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Despite speculation over allowing sports bettors to wager on WWE, there doesn’t appear to be much support at the state level to add it to sportsbook offerings.

Earlier this year, WWE officials had discussions with accounting firm Ernst and Young to secure pre-determined match outcomes in order to allow betting on events. But many states where sports betting is legal have restrictions on wagering on scripted events.

In March, Alex Sherman of CNBC reported that WWE had meetings with regulators in Colorado and Michigan.

“The Colorado Division of Gaming is not currently and has not considered allowing sports betting wagers on WWE matches. By statute, wagers on events with fixed or predicted outcomes or purely by chance are strictly prohibited in Colorado; this includes wagers on the Academy Awards,” Shannon Gray of the Colorado Division of Gaming told Sports Betting Dime.

In Ohio, the same rules apply. The Ohio Casino Control Commission has not fielded any requests to add WWE. Officials in Kansas haven’t received requests either by their residents.

Elsewhere, Maryland sees keeping WWE out of betting offerings as a way to keep the integrity of legal sports betting.

“Maryland’s sports wagering law and regulations prohibit forms of wagering that are contrary to public interest or unfair to bettors,” Seth Elkin of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency added. “We’ve determined that it is unfair to bettors and therefore not in the public’s interest to accept wagers on sports entertainment events that have scripted or predetermined outcomes, like professional wrestling.”

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Former Twitter Sports Boss TJ Adeshola Joins Arctos Partners

“We’ve been fortunate to have TJ as an Operating Advisor for the past three years, and we are thrilled to have him play a larger role as an Operating Partner.”

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Less than two months after TJ Adeshola announced his exit from Twitter, he has resurfaced. Arctos Partners, a firm that he had been advising, named Adeshola an operating partner on Thursday.

In the new role, Adeshola will be much more hands-on with the firm, a private investment company that focuses its investments in the sports world. The firm says it focuses on unlocking “non-obvious opportunities long before others have noticed the market need or opportunity”.

TJ Adeshola’s digital sports marketing expertise will certainly come in handy with that.

“We believe TJ is an innovator in emerging digital and sports media trends, and his wealth of knowledge is a tremendous resource for our Arctos Operating Platform, the value-added capabilities we provide to our franchise partners,” Arctos’s Jordan Solomon said in a press release. “We’ve been fortunate to have TJ as an Operating Advisor for the past three years, and we are thrilled to have him play a larger role as an Operating Partner.”

During his decade with Twitter, Adeshola served as the Head of U.S. Sports Partnerships. His title was Head of Global Content Partnerships at the time of his exit.

He is credited with securing broad strategic partnerships with the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB and MLS as well as NASCAR, esports, college, and high school sports. He helped the platform grow the engagement and audience for those entities.

“I’m thrilled to expand my role with Arctos as an Operating Partner,” Adeshola added. “As the first investment firm to invest across multiple North American sports leagues, Arctos is an innovator and disruptor in the sports landscape. And true to form, the Arctos team recognizes the power of digital media as a tool for growth and an opportunity to drive value for its franchise partners.”

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