Patriots Owner Robert Kraft Becomes Media Target in Casino Stock Ownership Investigation

Posted on: April 25, 2017, 10:00h. 

Last updated on: April 25, 2017, 10:16h.

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is the target of a new investigation published to sports news siteDeadspinthat claims the billionaire is in violation of the National Football League’s (NFL) ownership policies due to his investment in a hedge fund.

Robert Kraft NFL gambling policy Caesars
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft (seen here with President Donald Trump at an NFL game in 2012) is being accused by one reporter of violating the league’s ownership policy for holding interests in Caesars. (Image: Charles Krupa/Associated Press)

Kraft, worth an estimated $5.1 billion according toForbes, owns a small stake (by his standards) in Apollo Global Management (AGM). Per SEC filings, the Kraft Group CEO holds 267,240 shares of AGM, a publicly traded company, currently valued at around $7 million.

Since Apollo presently retains a 30 percent stake in Caesars Entertainment, as well as positions in UK betting house Ladbrokes and casino games manufacturer American Gaming Systems,Deadspinauthor Bart Hubbuch says Kraft is in violation of the NFL’s gambling policy. The League strictly prohibits owners from directly owning casinos or gaming businesses.

On the Apollo website, the hedge fund says Kraft has been a director of its company since 2014. The billionaire is listed alongside nine other directors and executive officers.

“Holding that position would appear to be a clear violation of the NFL’s gambling policy. While the policy allows for owners to have minor investments in equity firms like Apollo that invest in casinos, serving as an officer or director of a ‘publicly traded enterprise’ with revenue from ‘gambling-related operations’ is specifically banned,” Hubbuch explains in his expose.

Kraft is also an investor in DraftKings, a daily fantasy sports network. The debate on whether DFS constitutes gambling or skill-based competition is ongoing.

Fumbled Investigation

Critics of theDeadspinreport cite the hedge fund’s managed assets, which total $200 billion, and its relatively small stake in gaming companies, as reason to dismiss Hubbuch’s conclusion that Kraft is a casino man running an NFL team. The League itself might not be too anxious to punish Kraft for having $7 million of his $5.1 billion fortune with a fund that owns part of an entertainment and gaming conglomerate.

Hubbuch is taking plenty of heat online from readers, saying his Kraft article is nothing more than a hit piece. It’s certainly not the first time he’s had to ward off critics.

A formerNew York Postsports writer, Hubbuch was fired last November after he compared on Twitter the inauguration of President Donald Trump to 9/11 and the attack on Pearl Harbor. He had previously caused controversy on the social media outlet when he accused the Patriots organization of being racist for never having a black quarterback start a game in franchise history.

Kraft and Trump 

Hubbach is no fan of Trump or Kraft, but the two billionaires share quite a fondness for one another. Kraft has visited Mar-a-Lago since Trump’s November victory, and the Patriots organization was honored at the White House last week, as is customary for presidents to welcome the Super Bowl champs.

TheNew York Timesalso alleges that Trump counsels with Kraft on a somewhat regular basis, though the media outlet provides no concrete proof of this assertion. The news site lists Kraft, along with 19 others, as being in regular contact with the president, based on what it claims are interviews with “top aides and advisers” in the White House.

In addition to Kraft, billionaire casino owners Phil Ruffin and Carl Icahn are named in theTimesreport.