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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.”

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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

Media Noise – Episode 44

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This week’s episode is all about the NFL. Demetri explains why the league embracing kids is long overdue, Andy Masur stops by to breakdown the first Manningcast, and Ryan Maguire explains why some sports radio stations are missing a golden opportunity to shine on Sundays.

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BSM Writers

Interviews Thrive On Podcasts In A Way They Can’t On Radio

“Opportunities that a podcast creates open doors to audio that is simply superior to live radio.”

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Live radio vs. podcasts seems to be a heavyweight fight that isn’t ending anytime soon.  Podcasts are growing so much that companies that do radio are also now offering podcasts. This column is hardly about that fight. 

Instead, this is about how a podcast interview is a better way to get the best out of the guest than anything live on a radio station. This is not about downloads or clicks or sponsors. Solely about the content that is being produced.

A podcast makes the guest more comfortable and is more intimate than a live radio show.  Especially in sports.

Since 2015, I have hosted and produced 656 podcasts (yes it was fun to count them) and hosted many radio shows. My current shows are called Sports with Friends, Hall of Justice, and Techstream. That last one I host with tech expert Shelly Palmer.

On radio, there is a myriad of things the host has to do besides focus on the guest.

First, there are the IDs. Program directors have always told me ID the guest every chance I get. “We are talking with Eli Manning on WFAN,” is heard 7 times during an eight-minute segment.

On a podcast, the name of the guest is on the player or app that is playing the podcast. “Episode 1. Eli Manning, New York Giants” scrolls across smartphones, car radios, or other devices constantly.  Never interrupt the guest with an ID.

Then, there’s the fact that it is recorded and not live. I have a standard preamble that I say to any guest before any record light turns on.

“I will push,” I explain. “I will see where the conversation takes us, but I do tend to push. However, I’m on your side. This isn’t some expose’. If something comes up that you don’t like your answer, tell me. I’ll take it out. If there’s something that I say that is bad or wrong, tell me, I’ll take it out. This is a conversation, not an interview.”

In 656 podcasts, only one player, Bryce Harper (then of the Washington Nationals) asked me to take something out of a podcast.

We were doing Episode 54 of Sports with Friends when the subject of Dusty Baker came up.  He had just been hired to manage the Nationals. I mentioned in passing that Dusty had given the eulogy at my best friend Darryl Hamilton’s funeral.

Bryce was so intrigued that he recalled the comments I had made and asked if we could pause. We then spoke for a good 10 minutes about the kind of person Dusty was. Why Darryl held him in such regard.  It was a really inciteful chat.  Never was on the podcast.

Still, guests do relax when told that the editing option exists. They let their guard down. The host of a podcast can ask deeper questions.

“Who was the first person you called when you found out you were traded?”

“Have you seen a life for you after football?”

“How much do you hate a certain player?”

All questions, that if asked live, could seriously backfire. So not only does the guest have a guard up, but the interviewer also has to play it relatively safe, when they are not IDing the guest for the umpteenth time.

Time constraints also don’t exist in a podcast where they are beholden on live radio. The guest is just about to tell you they did cocaine during the World Series, and you are up against the clock.

ShinStation - Game Over - #017 - Wrap it Up - YouTube
Courtesy: Comedy Central

I have hosted shows over the years where the guest was phenomenal, but I screwed up the PPM clock. That was the takeaway.  The clock is important on a live medium that needs to get that quarter-hour.

I try to keep my podcasts short. You wouldn’t see it from looking at the lengths of my episodes. Still, I feel that if someone wants to talk and dive into a topic and it goes a little long, I will never cut the guy off.

Ken Griffey Jr. spoke for 45 minutes with a cigar and his feet up on the phone by his pool. He was telling jokes and stories. I wouldn’t have stopped that if a train was coming. When I hosted Mariner content at KJR in Seattle, our interviews usually last 5 minutes.

Jon Morosi broke down the future of clubhouse access and how he traveled during Covid. Then he told an amazing story of his wife working in the medical field and how that impacted all of his family. Shannon Drayer of 710 KIRO got so in-depth in her arduous journey from being a coffee barista to the Mariners on-field reporter. It was split into two episodes.

Former porn star Lisa Ann talked about her decision to quit the business. Even Jason Barrett himself was Episode 173 of Sports with Friends.

(When in the past has Jason Barrett been in the same paragraph as a porn star? Note to Demetri: please leave it in.)

The radio industry is seen to be cutting costs wherever it can. Mid-market stations are not doing night shows anymore, instead offering nationally syndicated programming. 

Weekends are another avenue that perplexes me. Talent that is not deemed good enough to be on during the week is often given weekend shifts. Also, some Monday-Friday hosts add a weekend shift to their duties. Here’s a theory: play podcasts. Format them to hit your PPM time marks. 

They don’t have to be my podcasts, but in the crowded podcast space, surely there are sports talk podcasts that are intimate, deep, and fun. Since we live in a data-driven age, let’s see how a radio station fares playing high-quality podcasts or portions of them, vs. weekend hosts.

Program directors often worry about the outdated nature of a podcast. That sells the podcaster short. As someone who has been in the podcast space since 2003, I know how to make them timeless, and companies make shows often enough, that rarely would they be outdated.  

Quality shines through the speakers.  The spoken-word audio format is continually evolving. Opportunities that a podcast creates open doors to audio that is simply superior to live radio.

How to Start a Podcast: Podcasting for Beginners - RSS.com Podcasting

The podcast industry is continually evolving.  Radio needs to evolve as well.  Then, it can be a fair fight.

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BSM Writers

National Voices Can Work For Local Clients

“Distance, like absence, can make the heart grow fonder.”

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Selling personalities is one of the hottest trends in media today. Sure, most of the buzz is around social media influencers, but radio has long had a relationship with its audience based on personal connections between host and listener. And nobody has a better relationship with their audience than a sports radio host.

I am sure you are leveraging your local hosts by now. Live spots, testimonials, remotes, and promotions are all great tricks of the trade, as well as sponsored social media posts. But does your station carry syndicated shows? I am sure you do either from 7 pm-12 am Monday-Friday or on weekends.

In 2018, The Ticket in Boise, Idaho brought CBS Sports Radio host Damon Amendolara and his co-host, Shaun Morash, to town for a Boise State football game. Damon had just switched to mornings from evenings, and his show aired in Boise from 4 am-8 am Monday – Friday. His ratings were decent, but nothing that stood out considering the daypart. It was thought to be risky to sell him into sandwich shops, pizza places, appearances at local legend hangouts, and so forth.

Boise State head football coach and QB Bryan Harsin and Brett Rypien did a live shot on the show from the on-campus bookstore. At dark thirty. It all worked. DA and Morash were hits! Everywhere they went, lines and crowds awaited them and they hit spots in a two-county area.  The few days of appearances worked so well that DA is back in Boise three years later, this time for a week. Now, DA is doing his show from resort hotels 2.5 hours away, taking riverboat adventure fishing trips in Hell’s Canyon, craft beer tours for his sidekick Andrew Bogusch and hosting college football viewing parties at brewpubs. Every station that carries syndicated shows probably has a DA success story waiting to happen. 

Start by listening to the shows, know the benchmarks and quirks of the national personalities or call the affiliate rep and ask. Does the talent discuss their love of beer, BBQ, pizza, whatever? If they do, then go ahead and sell them to a local client. The national talent can do the spot and endorse your client. If it’s a product, send one to them. Figure out how to get them a pizza. If it’s a service, do a zoom call with the client and let them start a relationship. Include some social media elements with video. The video can be used in social media and can sit on the client’s website. Yours too!

If you want to bring the talent to town, do it for a big game, local event, or 4th of July parade, and the sponsors will follow. Run a promo during the talent’s daypart asking local sponsors to text in to reserve their promotional spot. Have the talent cut liners asking the same thing. Take the NFL Sunday morning host and sell a promo to a sports bar where the host zooms in to a table or room full of listeners, and they watch a portion of a game together. Or sell the same idea to a national chain and do an on-air contest for a listener to have a home watch party with the zoomed-in host complete with food and beverages from your sponsors sent to both locations. How about sending your #1 BBQ joint that handles mail orders and sends some food for the talent? They can videotape themselves reheating the BBQ and make some great Facebook and Instagram videos.  

Distance, like absence, can make the heart grow fonder. Try selling a nationally syndicated host inside your market. I promise you’ll like it. 

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