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The First Ever Sports Gambling Roundtable

“Prohibition didn’t work and legislating the gambling habits of Americans won’t either. The pandemic creating state-to-state budget shortfalls will only speed up the process.”

Vik Chokshi

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With the gambling industry booming, there are now so many stories and topics that catch my eye. And, behind that industry news, comes the content creators and the people who cover it, all of whom have colorful and different viewpoints. So, once a month, I’m going to try to gather these various gambling and fantasy professionals to discuss relevant industry topics. This should be fun, so let the games begin.

For this column, we have Matt Perrault (MP) who is a Host of Pushing the Odds on SportsMap Radio; Mike Gill (MG), Host of The Sports Bash on 97.3 ESPN; Julian Edlow (JE) who is a DFS analyst for DraftKings and sports betting content creator for Awesemo; and last, but not least, Steve Cofield (SC), Host of Cofield and Co. on ESPN Las Vegas.

Gambling on the election in the U.S. is currently not legal, but, do you see that changing in the future? It seemed like everyone was either following the election odds or bet on the election this year, so I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Updating the latest market (betting odds) on the US election: Biden 64,  Trump 35

MP: Gambling on the US Presidential Election is one of the biggest gold mines awaiting the US sports books following the legalization of sports betting in America. Internationally, this has been a monster event every 4 years but this year, because so many new American gamblers are now in the market, the handle at the offshore sports books was truly incredible. It was widely reported that the total handle at each offshore book was equivalent to 2 Super Bowls. Going into election night, one offshore reported a handle of over $500 Million and that was before the wild betting post Trump winning Florida and Texas that swung the odds dramatically for about 3 hours. 

I have no doubt that the US Presidential Election in 2024 will be legal in at least 3 states. New Jersey, Indiana and Colorado have all shown a willingness to legalize gambling on things like table tennis and competitive eating. They are aggressive and the companies licensed in those states have European owners that understand how to book an election. 

However, Nevada is expected to be unwilling to legalize such a market. It would be a massive mistake but Nevada is getting left behind more and more every day in the sports gambling space. The companies here don’t really care about that at the moment. One day, maybe they will get aggressive again, but right now, I would say yes to the betting on the election being legal in certain states by 2024 but no to it being legal in Nevada. 

MG: I don’t think this is something we will see in the future, but would not be surprised if it does happen.  Like him or not President Trump was a polarizing figure, so I’m not sure there will ever be interest in an election again like there was in the 2020 election. However, if it was to happen, it would because of this year’s election. I do think if it were legal, a site like Prop Swap would benefit, where you could buy and sell the tickets as the odds change. Can you imagine this year, if you could go there and buy and sell tickets from say 10pm on Tuesday to 10am the following day. You see some unreal tickets change hands! 

JE: Honestly I don’t really do politics, but betting an election is obviously much different than a sporting event — especially the live lines that got so much attention on Twitter during this election. A big lead in electoral votes isn’t the same as the Falcons’ 28-3 lead over the Patriots. Ground can be much more predictably made up for an election. So I don’t think the market is even in a place where it’s ready to be legalized in the US. Sportsbooks would be leaving themselves open to huge liabilities with some of those live lines. Like everything in the gambling world, I do think it’ll become legalized. But in terms of when and where that’ll happen, I feel like we’re too far out to know (at least with my limited knowledge).

SC: I’d love to see it happen. And, that’s a lot of taxable betting dollars pouring out of the U.S. or going to illegal bookmakers. But, I don’t see it changing anytime soon. The elections are razor thin now and there’s claims of fraud now! Nevada’s count is currently being challenged. As an example, imagine if President Trump could claim that the state is altering the count because Nevada’s sports books need Joe Biden to win? 

Voters in six states on Tuesday approved a diverse bag of sports betting and gaming initiatives, including Maryland, South Dakota and Louisiana. Do you think gambling on sports will eventually be legalized in all 50 states or close to it? And, in what time frame?

MP: I do not ever see Utah or Alabama legalizing sports gambling. States that don’t have lotteries right now are not going to legalize sports gambling, in my opinion. However, I do think in the other 48 states, you will be able to bet on sports in some form. Some will offer mobile and brick and mortar. Some will just offer one or other but I do think that 48 states will be legal within the next 10 years. 

Post pandemic, sports betting is going to be an easy revenue stream for states. Look at the states surrounding Tennessee, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Colorado. Those states that don’t have it, will have it within 3 years because their residents are crossing states. Others states will follow soon after that. If California, Texas, or Florida legalize in the next 5 years, the entire space will change and the industry will grow leaps and bounds. 

MG: I figure at some point the revenue created will just be too much for even the most conservative states to ignore.  However, I think it could be 5-10 years before we see all 50 states on board.  Here in NJ it took years, and many thought after it got voted down back in the late 70’s, it would never be legal here, so I guess anything is possible. 

New Jersey Betting Revenue in 2018 - Bet-NJ

JE: All 50 states are a little ambitious, but it’s going to be the large majority of states and it’s going to be soon. Look where we are now. In the middle of 2018 you had to go to Vegas to legally bet sports. Two years later, and you can essentially get a legal bet in half of the states. I think within the next five years the boom continues and we get to 40 or so legal states. 

SC: Within five years, sports betting will be legal in some form or fashion in 40+ states. Prohibition didn’t work and legislating the gambling habits of Americans won’t either. The pandemic creating state-to-state budget shortfalls will only speed up the process.

Last week, DraftKings announced an exclusive, multi-year relationship with Bryson DeChambeau as the first active professional golfer to represent it. Do you see more gambling and fantasy companies doing this? Possibly a new trend, similar to what happened when poker first got famous after Chris Moneymaker won the WSOP? 

MP: I believe that in the next three years, sports marketing deals will be dominated by the sports books. Bryson is just the first of what I think will be tons of pro golfers with sponsorship deals on tour with sports books. NBA, NHL, NFL, and MLB players will soon be doing commercials like the one Jamie Foxx just did for BetMGM. Now that the leagues are in bed with the books, their athletes are going to be front and center promoting the brands. 

The difference with sports gambling compared to DFS or Poker is that sports gambling has an audience that is 5, 6, maybe 10 times the size of the other two games of skill. Chris Moneymaker made poker cool but not everyone played the game. It was illegal to bet on in certain places but some people just don’t play cards. DFS took time to learn and bring players up to speed on how you could win. Sports gambling is as well known as to how many strikes you get at the plate. 

MG: No doubt, I can see the logos all over athletes and sports that will allow it.  I think you’ll continue to see this happening. 

JE: Absolutely. It’s going to be cool to see Bryson rocking DK gear at The Masters, but I think we should’ve been able to see stuff like this coming. DK has been all over professional sports stadiums for years and worked with some really big name professional athletes. We’ve seen DraftKings sponsored uniforms in the WNBA. It’s just going to continue to grow. 

SC: There’s no doubt sportsbooks and fantasy companies will try it. To me, they’re playing a dangerous game of optics. Especially with athletes in team sports that have a money line or point spread.

The Internal Revenue Service last week doubled down on its position that daily fantasy sports entry fees are akin to sports wagers. DraftKings’ CEO Jason Robbins responded by rejecting the notion. What are your thoughts on this touchy subject?

MP: DFS has been and will always be gambling. Now, some will call DFS a game of skill. It is. So is sports gambling. So is poker.

I’m not blindly betting on a game every day. I do research. I study. I learn and then I bet. I know the odds and I try to find angles that will help me win at a 53% clip. Sports betting is really, really hard. But so is DFS and so is poker. All 3 are games of skill and all 3 are gambling. 

The reason that certain states allow DFS companies to operate in them is because those states classify DFS as NOT gambling. If a DFS company comes to Nevada where we have classified DFS as gambling, then they can’t go to other states and claim the opposite. So, for IRS purposes, it’s a big deal that DFS entries are not seen as placing a bet. I believe it totally is but I get the game they are playing with the language. 

MG: In reality, fantasy sports are a form of gambling.  It might be a longer term bet, that doesn’t depend on the outcome of a game, but money is used to enter a league and earnings are distributed, that’s gambling. 

JE: I just want to make it clear that I’m not an employee of DraftKings and my thoughts in no way reflect the company, but in over five years of worth with DK I think it’s pretty clear that DFS is a different animal than gambling.

When you’re betting on a game, you’re going against the book on a line they set. Building a fantasy lineup is completely different. Yes, there’s an entry fee that you’re risking, but I think that’s the only similarity to gambling. If you can project ownership, study matchups, depth charts, etc. you can create a path to become a good DFS player. But in order to do that, you need to try and predict what other people you’re competing against are going to do. If I’m betting a team against the spread, I don’t care what side other people are betting. I’m not trying to be different. I only care if my research says it’s the right side.

SC: He’s completely incorrect. DFS is gambling. Fantasy and sports betting are both games of skill. They’re no different. Another way to look at it? Betting on the teams is gambling, right? But betting on the players performances isn’t?

Virginia Governor Signs Fantasy Sports Bill - WSJ

Plus with several DFS scandals in the past, it’s pretty clear the industry needs real oversight on the state or federal level. 

BSM Writers

Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing

…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.

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WRONG BAD

In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.

“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.

“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”

Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.

The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?

That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.

You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.

“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”

Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.

Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”

Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”

Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”

Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”

It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.

WORTH EVERY PENNY

I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.

My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.

My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.

After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.

Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.

Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”

My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.

My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.

Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.

And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.

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BSM Writers

Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio

I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.

Jeff Caves

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Radio Sales

A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours. 

But is that why you sell sports radio?

In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.

A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family. 

Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.

I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.  

I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.

Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important. 

So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.  

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table

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Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.

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