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Is Barstool Sports in Talks with Real Life Philly Mob Boss Joey Merlino?

It's too early to say for sure, but it certainly seems like it.

Ok, so this is my first post on Racketeur (a site I founded last week) and HO LEE SHIT do I have a whopper of a story. So let's dive right in. I have good reason to believe that Dave Portnoy, the president of content powerhouse and online gambling site Barstool Sports, is currently in negotiations with reputed Philadelphia Mafia boss Joey Merlino, AKA Skinny Joey, AKA the Dapper Don to produce a gambling focused podcast.

Lets start with the clues.....

Clue #1 - 5/18/2022 : Rumors About a Podcast

At the 24:00 minute mark of the Philly Prime Podcast released on May 18th, veteran Philly crime investigator reports through his sources that "Joey might do podcast, gambling, betting, odds making, with somebody in the know, backed by some guys who are willing to put up the money, and potentially attach that to a casino".

"Joey might do podcast, gambling, betting, odds making, with somebody in the know, backed by some guys who are willing to put up the money, and potentially attach that to a casino"

Well.... that certainly sounds like it could be Dave, but who knows right? There's lot of guys out there with money, making podcasts, with connections to casinos.

Clue #2 - 5/31/22: Martaranos Cafe, Fort Lauderdale FL

Not even a couple weeks after rumors swirl that Merlino is considering doing a gambling podcast. Dave Portnoy conducts one of his signature pizza reviews at Martoranos Cafe in Fort Lauderdale. The Cafe is owned by Steve Martorano, former Philadelphia mafia tough guy and known associate of Joey Merlino.

It's not a secret to anyone that Joey Merlino spends most of his time in Boca Raton these days, a town only about 15 minutes north of where the cafe is located. The same place where Merlino ventured into the restaurant business himself, opening an Italian restaurant that shared his last name. The Inquirer at the time even speculated that Martarano may have helped Merlino -- stating "Maybe Merlino and Co. can get advice from Steve Martorano, the celeb chef and nephew of wiseguy Raymond "Long John" Martorano".

Merlino's Italian Restaurant in Boca Raton

NOTE: Dave is no stranger to the mob whether its intentional or not. In 2019 he visited La Nova in Buffalo, NY where he was graciously shown around by Joe Tadaro Jr, the owner of La Nova, and longtime boss of the Buffalo Crime Family.

Quick summary of events so far:

5/18/2022: Reputable sources say Joey is shopping a podcast with somebody in the know, connected to a casino

5/31/2022: Dave visits a close associate of Joey's about 15 minutes from where he currently lives in Florida.

Clue #3 - 6/7/2022: Dave Portnoy Hints at Something Big

At the 1:11:32 mark of the weekly Dave Portnoy Show with Eddie and Company, cohost Eddie prods Dave about an upcoming project he has in the works with Rone, to which Dave excitingly replies that "it could be huge" but then he is unable provide any further details.

Below is a transcript from the conversation:

Dave: We have something we're trying to put together, which I cannot say but if it's put together it will be a master stroke of genius

Eddie: does this relate to our last conversation about relates to Rone

Dave: yeah I can't say more, don't ask me, I can't say i don't want to mess it up and it may not happen but if it happens it's a massive stroke of Genius

Eddie: When will we know

Dave: I don't know

Clue #4: Rone

If you are neither a diehard stoolie, or fan of the youtube rap battle scene, you may not know who Rone is. Adam Ferrone, aka Rone, has been an integral part of Barstool for the last few years in both content and business strategy roles. He also just so happens to be one of the most skilled battle rappers to ever compete.

But most importantly, Rone is from Philly. He has largely served as the company's inside connection to all-things Philadelphia. He played a significant role in the launch of the massively successful Million Dollarz Worth of Game podcast, and has introduced many past and present Philly based barstool employees, including Jeff Nadu: host of the popular mafia podcast The Sit Down.

So whatever "Huge Project" Dave has in the works with Rone, I think it is safe to assume it will revolve around Philly, Gambling, and possibly the mob if you factor in the Nadu connection.

Clue #5: The Race to Pennsylvania

Before covid swept across the country, Barstool was eager to promote their newly launched online gambling business, Barstool Sportsbook, in the great state of Pennsylvania. And it made sense, PA is a great place for gambling apparently. Pennsylvania represented a big opportunity for the scrappy brand to grab market share in a state that had only legalized online gambling a couple years prior.

Barstool (and $Penn of course) even rented a mansion they dubbed the Barstool Gambling House, decked out from floor to ceiling with their logo splashed across nearly every item inside. Although the gambling house shuttered its doors shortly after the pandemic hit, it didn't stop them from pushing ahead in the city. In March of this year they cut the ribbon on a brand new bar downtown they advertised as 'a good place to watch a game and gamble virtually'.


obligatory charlie meme bc I'm sure reddit will have a field day with me later

In summary -- I'm confident that in late May of this year, Dave and possibly Rone flew down to Fort Lauderdale to meet with Philly's teflon don Joey Merlino, and that the point of this trip was to discuss producing a podcast they intend to leverage in order to promote the Barstool Sportsbook in Philadelphia. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm right, hopefully we find out soon.


Thanks for reading this, it was my first full blog I've penned for my new blog Racketeur. I Intend to update this blog regularly with stories involving organized crime, cyber crimes, cartels, international drug trafficking organizations, the mafia, etc. Please excuse the messy website while I try to figure out exactly what it is I plan on doing with it.

If you liked this, please follow me on twitter @racketeur



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