Sports Bettors and Fresh Day Traders Now Wagering on Stock Market

Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy is the face of a resurgence in day trading

Portnoy Leading an Army of Day Traders
David Portnoy of Barstool Sports hosts "The Pool After Dark" at Harrah's Resort. (Tom Briglia/ Getty)
Tom Briglia

With most major sports halted since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people with an interest in professional athletics are looking for something else to fill their time.

Some have turned to investing in stocks to get their competitive fix as the market as seen an influx of money from sports bettors and novice day traders who have created new accounts with online brokerages. One of the faces of this new wave of inexperienced investors is Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy, who is using day trading as a substitute for sports gambling.

Portnoy, who has a degree in education from the University of Michigan, said he’s put $5 million into his day-trading account so far, according to Bloomberg. Though he has cautioned his followers not to invest any money they can’t afford to lose, Portnoy has inspired many millennials and Gen Zers to try their hand at the stock market for the first time. 

“It’s really been a perfect storm,” Nate Geraci, president of the investment-advisory firm the ETF Store, told Bloomberg. “Investors are seeing firsthand the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, and he’s doing it with large sums of money, so I think for younger investors, that’s really enticing.”

With millions of small-time investors making daily moves, the market has experienced a recent surge that has largely erased Wall Street’s losses for the year.

With gamblers collectively sitting on more than $13 billion of unwagered cash due to the sports shutdown, the market may continue to see an increased level of investment for the time being and beyond.

“Having the time and the flexibility and the opportunity — it being as low as it was — I just kind of felt it was a good time,” Steven Young, a regular gambler on sports, said when explaining his decision to start investing to The New York Times. “It’ll be interesting when sports come back, how invested I am in sports.”

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