We’re Not Really Going To Bet On WWE, Right? | Sports Betting News Today | LSR Podcast 185
Join us today on the Legal Sports Report podcast for the latest sports betting news and updates. A report on potentially legalizing betting on the WWE begs a number of questions. The crew disagrees on Calvin Ridley’s sincerity. Also, why is a sportsbook partnering with a small college basketball conference and why is a DraftKings founder swearing at his rival?
Matt Brown (00:08):
Hello and welcome to episode number 185 of the LSR Podcast. My name is Matt Brown, joined each and every week by the brightest minds in all of the gaming industry. With me, I have two of those, one of which is Dustin Gouker, one of which is Adam Candee, and they’re both absolutely free follows over on the Twitter machine, @DustinGouker, @AdamCandee, two E’s, no Y. And if you hate yourself, you can follow me @MattBrownM2. We are going to talk about Calvin Ridley. We’re going to talk about a deal with Tipico, so what’s going on in Massachusetts. We’ll get to some WWE stuff, as well. And one of the co-owners of one of the big boys in the sports betting industry also had a couple cocktails and did some things on the old Twitter machine. So that is also something we will discuss. But as always, guys, everything we do, absolutely free, so we do appreciate your support, which is also free, by just hitting that little five stars below down there, and go ahead and subscribe and if you want to rate and review, that is also as well very much appreciated.
So, Adam, let’s go ahead and kick things off here with a guy in which I spent half of the NFL season, this has nothing to do with the business aspect of things, but I spent half of the NFL season saying, man, if the Jags could actually just get a number one wide receiver, I think this team could be pretty dangerous next year, completely forgetting that they had traded for Calvin Ridley because he was so out of sight, out of mind. But Calvin Ridley, of course, suspended last season in the NFL due to a seven-leg parlay. It wasn’t drugs; it wasn’t any sort of domestic issue. It wasn’t that; it was just he was suspended for a parlay, but Calvin Ridley is going to be back.
The crew disagrees on Calvin Ridley’s sincerity
Adam Candee (01:42):
He was suspended for a parlay that included betting on his own team. We might as well get all of those details out there, and then I’ll get my one joke out of the way before we talk about all the really serious important stuff. Hey, something interesting in the Players’ Tribune for the first time! Calvin Ridley posted a long essay to the Players’ Tribune that I don’t think is getting nearly enough attention throughout the sports betting industry for the message that it ultimately sends. And what Calvin Ridley does in this essay is essentially he says, “I got to get something off my chest, and I need to explain to everybody why I was in the state I was in when I placed those bets, how sorry I am about it, how dedicated I am to football, how much better of a place I’m in right now.”
But for the US legal sports betting industry, the key takeaway in that letter was Calvin Ridley saying that he was dealing with anxiety, sadness and depression at the time that he saw the ad on TV for the legal sports betting app that he chose to download and then bet with. And there could not be a more crystallized story of why responsible and problem gambling issues have to be at the front of every discussion going forward in the US sports betting industry in a way greater than they have been thus far than a prominent athlete who is supposed to be in a position to one, have all of the education to know not to do this and two, be so wealthy that he in theory is not going to be depressed or sad or anxious.
Well, all of those things didn’t matter because Calvin Ridley downloaded an app and placed some bets. And in his own words, he basically said he didn’t really think a lot about it. It was just something he did when he was in the state that he was in. But that’s the whole point of why we have to talk about how we set up this industry so that it is giving the resources that it needs. And whether that is staffing hotlines like we’ve talked about in New York for people to have problem gambling resources, whether it’s about access to who is able to download certain things, whether it is about how we talk to people about the industry. Whatever the case might be, if you are part of or anywhere near the US legal sports betting industry and you have not read Calvin Ridley’s essay, pause this podcast, go read it and then come back and listen to the rest of this podcast. It is required reading for everyone in this industry.
Matt Brown (04:07):
I did read it. I don’t have as big of a reaction to it as you do. I think that there’s just, look, there’s a lot. I think that Calvin Ridley got caught with his hand in the cookie jar and there’s a lot of excuse making that’s going to that that’s going on with him. I mean, this is a guy that is, if you remember before any of all this stuff went down, he was away from the team as it was anyway because he was having other issues and stuff that were going on with him. And so I think it’s a fairly easy kind of deal to just point to this and that and whatever. And he was already away from the team because of issues that he was having and stuff that was going on and whatever. And so for me, I do think that there’s a little bit of kind of scapegoating going on here with him.
And further, I also believe, listen, the same thing could be said, and I’m just giving kind of the devil’s advocate approach to all of this, but I mean, the same thing could be that you hear about retail therapy, you hear about whatever. I mean people can be bummed out and then get on Amazon and spend $10,000 and stuff and things like that as well. I mean, it’s not necessarily gambling-related at all more than it is just in general of how people deal with stuff that is going on in their lives and whatnot. So again, just my little devil’s advocate kind of caveat thing that I took away from it, I think that other people will certainly take away from it. Other things as well. And Dustin, you might have looked at it differently than me.
Dustin Gouker (05:33):
I’ll let Adam with his furrowed brow talk first.
Adam Candee (05:36):
Yeah, I’ve got to push back on that. I couldn’t disagree with you more about this, Matt. And I know we don’t get to that point very often on this podcast, so I’m going to lean into it. The things that he was away from the team for, you can’t extract those from what he’s talking about. He was talking about being away from the team for mental health issues. And if you buy that, then you buy the rest of it as well. And if you don’t buy that, then I leave that out there to you or to anybody else who says, “No, I don’t really believe this issue was the level that it was.” But what we’re talking about here is absolutely inextricable in the perception of it. And whether you believe him or not, I don’t think really matters. I don’t think whether you say, well, gambling is the same as retail. It ultimately doesn’t matter in this case because for the perception of this industry, you’ve got someone out here who’s blaming it on these issues and whether it’s true or not, people are going to buy this to a degree that it requires attention from everyone.
And so scapegoating, the issue, I don’t know if it necessarily covers it because we’re talking about someone who’s saying I was having these issues, and I don’t think anyone is arguing the fact that he was having these issues. And if we’re not arguing the fact that he was having these issues, then sports betting has been brought into it. And you look at what you say he had his hand in the cookie jar, the way that he’s owning up to it, the way he’s owning up to saying, “Yes, this is what I did. Here’s what I did. Here’s how I did it. I wasn’t talking to anybody on the team. I didn’t have inside info,” et cetera, et cetera.
Look, I could be wrong that he’s setting himself up for a major fall if it comes out that he’s been betting off shore for 10 years and this just happened to be the one time that he got himself caught. But man, would that be something that I don’t think anyone around Calvin Ridley would let him get to the point of publishing this long essay explaining everything if that truly were the case. So I understand that Calvin Ridley doesn’t get to wish it away by just saying, “Hey, I was having a problem,” but he served the punishment for it. If there was some sort of excuse making, he spent a year away from the NFL and that then the punishment was made clear in that way.
Dustin Gouker (07:47):
And I’m as skeptical as anyone on stuff like this. I think you guys know me well enough. I found this to be very, was really well-written. I was like, not that I expect an NFL player not to be able to write, but this was a great essay, I think, of dealing with pain. And again, I agree, this goes way far outside of even gambling, and if you read this, it’s very little about gambling, right? It obviously informs the gambling part. But I read this, and I feel for the guy. And I probably talked in this podcast saying he’s an idiot, right? And now I actually feel bad after having read this. The guy was going through a lot, and again like Adam says, it doesn’t matter how much money you’re making, what your circumstances in life are. Obviously he had a hard upbringing as well. But yeah, the gambling is just … any other mistake could have been made here, and gambling just happens to be the mistake that was made here. And I feel for all of the things that he went through to get to the point where, oh, this mistake that he made that really impacted his life.
Again, yes, I didn’t read it as excuse-making either. I read it as here, freaking learn from me. I effed up. Here’s the pain and everything that I went through that led me to this decision or this very bad decision that screwed up even his NFL career. I don’t know. I felt it to be heartfelt. And again, I look at all of this stuff, I look at everything I see in anything around sports and usually turn a blind eye to it and think this is just garbage. And for whatever reason, this one hit home for me and it kind of resonated for me. I agree with Adam that anything that’s going on, I think you should read this, and it is one of those things that anybody can get into problem … I mean, this is not necessarily problem gambling, but is a gambling decision that really impacted his life. So it’s part and parcel, I think.
I do agree with Adam, read the story and think about what gets people to the point where they make these bad decisions around gambling or really any kind of thing that’s a vice or an addiction in life.
Matt Brown (09:55):
So again, I’m just highly skeptical of all this stuff. I’m not blowing off that there is an issue and stuff that is going on here. I think that the essay itself, we don’t know what the terms of his reinstatement were. This reeks to me of something that had to be done as part of his reinstatement into the NFL, all these different things. We don’t know any of that stuff. I’ve heard various things through the grapevine of stuff like this and whatever that it is fairly decent, it’s fairly beneficial for the NFL as well for a guy to come out and it’s basically kind of a scared -straight moment for the rest of the NFL as well like, hey, don’t-let-this-happen-to-you type situations.
I’m not blowing off that he was going through things and all this stuff like that, but the genesis of it all and things like that, again, I’m skeptical. You guys aren’t. It’s fine. We can disagree on all the stuff like that and whatever. I mean, I think the overarching message we get that it’s still probably good, but again, it is what is. Dustin, let’s head to Tipico here, and this is a deal in which, I don’t know, did it come out of left field for you?
Why is a sportsbook partnering with a small college basketball conference?
Dustin Gouker (11:10):
Pretty out of left field. And again, if we do these podcasts right after things happen, I’d be far angrier and I’m still angry about this one, I guess. But yeah, so here’s what happened. Just randomly, Adam and all of us got a press release from Tipico saying they are the “official sports betting partner of the 2023 MAAC men’s and women’s basketball championships.” So I think some of our listeners would probably have a hard time naming a school in the MAAC, but even though I-
Matt Brown (11:43):
Manhattan Jaspers, baby.
Dustin Gouker (11:46):
And St. Peter’s. St. Peter’s is a MAAC … anyway, this is a weird one because literally everything we’ve been talking about on this podcast I’d say, and just in the sports betting industry in general is let’s stop finding ways for people to pick apart the industry. Let’s stop. And one of those is doing partnerships with colleges. Yes, this isn’t directly a college partnership. This is with a conference and its championship, whatever, but let’s stop that. We have bills in Maryland, in New York now specifically addressing this and not letting it happen. We have, I mean, again, it just seems borderline nuts to me that we are just sitting here saying, oh, let’s do deals between colleges and sportsbooks. And we’ve only had a handful of these over several years now. And I’d say that probably points to the fact that we’ve had some restraint from both colleges and sportsbooks from entering into more of these.
We had the high-profile one with Caesars and LSU. We’ve had Colorado and PointsBet and Maryland. There’s been a handful of these out there and I think everybody … I thought everybody thought, OK, maybe we shouldn’t be doing these anymore. Maybe hindsight’s 20/20. Yes, we did these deals; maybe we shouldn’t do any more. And then all of a sudden, Tipico, which we don’t talk about a whole lot, but has a very small amount in a very few states, a very small amount of market share, comes out and just blows this idea up and says, “Oh, we’re going to do a college betting partnership.” There’s nobody who thinks this is a good idea. Let’s also add on to that the MAAC tournament is in Atlantic City, where you can’t bet on this tournament or any of the teams in New Jersey. I don’t know, let’s take apart the responsible gambling and the regulatory part of this out, this is inane. You’re going to sign up people at this tournament, and they can’t bet on the tournament. I guess they think it’s going to get people betting on March Madness. I don’t know. Again, hire any of us as a consultant and we’ll tell you this was the most ham-handed idea in the world, and please, please, I implore everyone to stop doing these deals.
Matt Brown (13:48):
So Adam, if we take a look at this and yes, when the individual team stuff started coming out, we were kind of, ah, it seems like a slippery slope and whatever and all that, but at least if there was a … we’ll go to the LSU deal, for example. There’s at least the SEC that is still a regulatory body over LSU to where they could come in and say, “Hey man, what are y’all doing?” Whatever, blah, blah. But now when it’s actually with the conference itself, it kind of takes away any sort of checks-and-balances type situation of someone kind of lording over that. It’s just a very, very interesting deal when we’re going from, which we don’t even really love the whole individual team thing. Now we’re taking that even a step further, and it’s over the entire conference. To me it’s so wild.
Adam Candee (14:33):
This seems to be the rare deal where I don’t really get what either side gains from it, right? What is the purpose of this partnership for either one of the entities involved in it? Like Dustin just laid out what the MAAC, and we have to be very clear. It’s not the MAC; it’s the MAAC, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
Shout out to Fran Fraschilla and me going to the Manhattan Jaspers basketball camp when I was 14 years old. Best rebounder in the camp right here as awarded by Fran Fraschilla. Thank you. I did not wager on any games at the time, our camp games, MAAC games throughout the season, and they’re now talking about going and having people sign up for games they can’t bet on there. So you lose the immediacy of being able to get people immediately into the app. You bring up the whole issue of not being able to bet on in-state teams like the St. Peter’s run to the Elite Eight last year. And then on the other side of this, how much money would be enough if you were the Metro Atlantic to make this PR hit OK, because who’s looking at this in a positive light?
Matt Brown (15:42):
I was actually literally about to ask you that. It’s like what do we think the terms are? What can the terms even be for this? That literally was going to be my follow-up to you.
Adam Candee (15:51):
I know. Look, what, an equity stake in Tipico that’ll be good for the next two years before they fold? I don’t know what the deal is. And by the way, this is not the only weird partnership news we’ve gotten from Tipico. I actually said to our colleagues in the chat that they’re kind of leading the league in weird partnerships right now. I think there was one with TopGolf, if I’m not mistaken, where one particular bar at a TopGolf in Ohio was named after Tipico. It feels like we’re dialing the clock back four years to when people were just throwing partnership money around. So this idea is regressive in multiple ways.
It goes back to what I just said there, and also, as Dustin said, we talked last week about college campuses not being marketed to by sportsbooks seems to be the one place where everyone can get together on this. Maryland is going against the grain on this. New York is going against the grain on this. Senator Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut in the United States Senate is going against this, and then we get this deal sort of out of left field, and I’ll punctuate my thoughts on this with one thing. So Dustin, you talked about getting the press release. I also got the press release. We ran a story on that deal by the end of the day. I got the same press release pitched to me the next day saying, “Hey, if you guys are interested in covering this …” so they’re not even watching to see if they got the value out of the story.
Dustin Gouker (17:15):
Yes. It’s not … so yeah, you could give all this, maybe they’re playing 4D chess and people are going to be talking about Tipico because of this and no, they don’t even know that we’re talking about.
Matt Brown (17:24):
When I saw this, I’m just sitting here and the first thing that pops to my mind, it actually jumped. I know that the first thing that came to mind was like, oh, this is just, what are they thinking? Actually, the first thing that popped into my mind was like, what could the financial terms of this be anyway? Literally, that was actually the first thing that came to mind. It wasn’t even like, oh my God, I’m frowning upon this. It was more of the how many dollars can actually even be attached to this? I don’t get it. Is there some sort of super-secret multi-billionaire behind this that we don’t know about?
Dustin Gouker (17:57):
I mean, could you imagine, let’s make this even worse. Let’s imagine they’re getting a sign-up fee every time somebody signs up at the tournament. Maybe. It’s probably a flat fee, I guess. We don’t know the terms, but that would be maybe the worst. And again, I know this is a conference tournament, plenty of adults at this thing, but most of the players on the court are under 21. There’s going to be tons of students for all these schools also under 21. Let’s just stop. Whatever you’re getting that’s good out of this, which is almost nothing, is offset by the potential … again, us sitting here, we’re not that important, but we saw enough reaction from this that this was wildly said this is a dumb idea. So just stop.
Massachusetts online sports betting going live
Matt Brown (18:46):
Adam. We have been talking about Massachusetts it seems like for about seven years on this pod and what’s going on in the sports betting world with them. But we do know it is going to be launch, it is going to be launching any day now. And what are we looking at here from Massachusetts when we go live?
Adam Candee (19:02):
Well, we’re looking at it being tomorrow as we record here on Thursday, 10 a.m. Eastern launch time. We started this process, as you mentioned, sometime around the first Bush administration and now we look at it and see that as we’ve gotten closer, it’s actually been a dwindling number of sportsbooks that are going to be ready at the launch. We’re only going to have six that launch on day one; there are 10 that are approved. We already saw that two of them pulled back out entirely in Bet365 and PointsBet, and now we just found out this week that Betr, the Jake Paul micro-betting site, is going to be hopefully launching sometime in April according to them.
So we’ve had meetings damn near every day in Massachusetts, seemingly for two months now. I think we’ve had the launch officially approved, although I’ve never really heard it’s definitely going to happen. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has just sort of said, this is our suggested date and we’re going to meet damn near every day until the launch date comes up, and we might tell you at 9:59 tomorrow morning, hey, we’re pushing it back. But it doesn’t seem that way at this point, especially when you consider the fact that March Madness is about to start in earnest next week. RIP Northern Arizona Lumberjacks. Came close, guys. Good run.
Matt Brown (20:22):
Yeah. Dustin, this was, I think one of the, I’m not going to call it necessarily a shock because as things kind of played out or whatever, but we did expect Massachusetts to have interest to pretty much everyone in the industry. Then we start to see people just pull out on their own as the process played out with getting going there in Massachusetts and we’re going to be launching, I think if we would’ve guessed six months ago or whatever a year ago, how many were going to be launching, I think, with far fewer than we probably would’ve put a number on.
Dustin Gouker (20:55):
And I want to tip my hat to Mike Mazzeo, who’s been freaking aged probably 20 years while watching the Massachusetts sports betting hearings. God love him for sitting through all of this nonsense. There’s so much, there’s a lot to unpack. Yeah, it’s, it kind of, I don’t know. I feel like it snuck up on us, but the whole sports betting industry has been a little wacko lately. We had all these meetings, and like Adam said, nobody ever actually said like, oh yeah, definitely happening tomorrow. Maybe it doesn’t. I guess we assume it’s going to happen tomorrow. But off the heels of the Ohio launch, does Massachusetts over index because of sports fans? Maybe. It’s a smaller state than Ohio, but we saw the launch numbers over a billion in handle in Ohio in month one. Yes, we’re not launching into football season, but we are launching into championship week in college basketball. March Madness is right around the corner. There’s a lot going on for sure.
So it’ll be interesting to see if all of this translates into Massachusetts maybe punching above its weight in terms of how much is going on. I’ll take the micro of Betr too. I don’t know. I feel like I love to dump on certain companies. I feel like I’m always dumping on Betr at this point. I love to dump on Barstool, everyone knows. But Betr, what is going on with Betr? It launched late. They didn’t launch with the first wave in Ohio. They had 0.1% of market share. Yes, they launched late, but they took $1 million in handle a lot of that $1 million in Ohio. Now they’re supposed to be on a flat start with everyone else, and now they’re going to be late in Massachusetts too. It kind of points to why were they launching at all if they weren’t … doesn’t seem like they’re ready. And if Jake Paul is behind it, this is a … no matter what you think of him, he’s a pretty big influencer and he’s apparently not moving the needle for this company, which is mostly based on his, I’d say his presence and a differentiated product. And neither of those land in Ohio.
I mean, I feel a little weird saying all this on very early days, but if you launched in Ohio and you’re not moving the needle at all, that’s a pretty bad big red flag. And now you’re going to miss Massachusetts. For anybody, any challenger brand that’s going to disrupt this industry, this is a pretty crappy start, and maybe the product is great and turns into something down the road, but right now it’s a pretty bad start, I’d argue for Betr.
Matt Brown (23:22):
And Adam, of course, we’re always interested in what the numbers are going to look like and certainly how those break down and divvy up. But one of the things I think that is a little bit interesting from a Massachusetts standpoint is that you do have the big physical presence of the Wynn casino there and the big physical presence of the MGM casino there. And it will be interesting to see if, look, those are big, nice, fairly new properties in the state that I know are wildly popular. And so I think it will be a fairly interesting deal for us to see once we start getting some numbers roll in, if the big physical presence of these big fancy casinos there do translate into maybe a little bit higher of a piece of the pie.
Adam Candee (24:04):
That’s one thing I’m looking at, and there are two other things that I think are particularly interesting about this launch. Another is we just had the Ohio launch, and granted Ohio is a larger population than Massachusetts, but 7 million, the 15th-largest state in the nation, is not small when it comes to a state like Massachusetts that in terms of land area is not all that big. And I think the expectations for Massachusetts are going to get raised a little bit by what we saw in Ohio. And of course they’re surrounded by states that have some version of legal sports betting as well. So I’m curious also to see when we start getting the next two, three months of revenue reports, what happens to New Hampshire? What happens to Rhode Island? What happens to Connecticut? Do we see some sort of decay when it comes to those states?
The next thing I’m watching, and I think this is a little harder to measure, but I do think that people smarter than me are going to be curious about this. New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, especially Boston, these are the areas where people have been betting in some way, shape or form for a very long time. And the conversion from the illegal market, notably from local bookies, I think is going to be very interesting to see how many people can be brought over to the legal market. Ohio is actually another interesting case in terms of that because there’s a lot of similar elements in Ohio to how long people have been betting and with whom they have been betting. So it’ll be a fascinating launch to watch for a number of places.
Dustin Gouker (25:36):
I’ll dump one more dynamic into this before we move on. We got the two Boston-founded brands also here, and I’m skeptical either one is going to win. Maybe DraftKings wins, DraftKings is founded in Boston, but how much juice do they really get just because of that? Yeah, maybe they over-indexed from their early days because they’re Boston based and had plastering everything over public transportation, things like that. Back in the DFS days, we know DraftKings was very much a Massachusetts brand. Is that carried over into 2023 to the point where they can actually challenge FanDuel at launch? We’ll see.
And then Barstool, which is even more interesting. It’s a national brand now, but is certainly still … Barstool was a Boston publication. It started as being part of Boston culture and has that carried over and do they punch above their weight here because of that background? And that I think they’re, if they not more than they’re getting 4 to 5% and to their credit now, third or fourth sometimes in a lot of states, if they’re not punching above that, I’d really question the value proposition. Because if they can’t go into where Portnoy and their home state and saying, “Hey, people are going to come bet with us,” that’s a rough sell for moving forward that people are really investing in the Barstool brand.
Matt Brown (27:01):
Yeah. And Adam, I thought we were going to move on, but actually Dustin brings up a good point here. So I did see, and I don’t know if you’ve seen yet, did you see the Barstool ad with Portnoy that they’re using in Massachusetts? Have you seen it yet? So it’s very not Portnoy. It’s like him leaning into the whole, “Hey, we’re from here. We grew up here.” It shows them as young kids in this, their old office that is the size of a whatever, so a garage and all of that. So it is very non-shock-and-awe Portnoy. It’s more the like, “Hey, we’re Boston bred, whatever, look at us.” We’ve been here for this long and whatever and blah, blah. So it’s a completely different tone from him and them as they get ready to launch in Massachusetts.
Adam Candee (27:47):
So you’re telling me that he does not walk up to the window of a diner, slap Minnie Driver’s number on it and say, “How do you like them apples?”
Matt Brown (27:56):
He did not do that. He did not do that. It was interesting. I mean, I’m not going to say a complete 180 from seems like where he wants to be, what he does in the outward facing persona, but it’s about a 120, right? I mean, it’s just him kind of saying humble beginnings, here’s us in this office that whatever and blah, blah, blah. And yeah, it was a different tone from him for sure. And I mean, again, we’ll see if it works, right? We’ll see if it works.
Adam Candee (28:24):
Yeah. It feels like maybe Erika Nardini right off screen holding a gun to his dog’s head or something like that to accomplish this. So I can’t imagine that we see that persist for long.
Dustin Gouker (28:35):
And does anyone really care? If people care about … when you’re betting with a sportsbook, do you care that it’s … maybe you care it’s local. I don’t know. That does not feel like the narrative that we’ve had in the US so far.
Matt Brown (28:48):
So I don’t know. So actually this is good. This is a great question actually for Adam, right? So Adam, you’re from New York, and we know New Yorkers are proud to be from New York, and I think it’s kind of the same thing with people from Boston. Obviously though we’re from Boston. So I don’t know, I guess my very uneducated, because I don’t know, I’m from Louisiana and it’s kind of like if you’re from North Louisiana, people from South Louisiana don’t even think you’re from the same state. It’s a whole different thing. So for me it doesn’t really translate. So I don’t know. You tell me, Adam. Could that play right? I mean, I know Boston people are pretty proud. Could you see them kind of like, “Hey, we’re going to support our own,” or something like that?
Adam Candee (29:32):
I think it’s message versus messenger, and I don’t know who that doesn’t already know Dave Portnoy is going to be swayed by that. If you were already Barstool-centric, if you were already Mass-centric, then yeah, I think you would be swayed by that. You know what? He might be listening, so I’m going to name another one of our old friends who used to work at Catena, and I always kind of wondered, Steve Ruddick had this soft spot for Dave Portnoy and Barstool that I always was kind of like, huh, that’s interesting. And I do think a lot of it is that area tends to keep its own. And you would talk about areas that do that in the northeast: New York, Boston and Philly, and I mean anywhere else, I’ll put you up against them, right? I don’t think Los Angeles stans like that. I don’t think Miami stans like that.
Matt Brown (30:23):
I can assure you Shreveport, Louisiana, does not. I can assure you that.
Adam Candee (30:29):
Thank you for assuring me of that. Yeah, no, it could play. I’m just thinking to myself, if I’m someone in Massachusetts and I’m brand new to all of this, is that messenger with that message going to be what gets me? It could be. I don’t think it’s a terrible idea because the same thing would hold where if I didn’t know Portnoy and I didn’t know the background with Portnoy and I hear this guy saying, “We’re from here, we’re of this,” then yeah, maybe that does get me at least to download it in the first place.
Matt Brown (30:58):
Yeah, it’d be interesting.
Dustin Gouker (31:00):
And if Barstool beats FanDuel in month one in Massachusetts, I’m going to have to buy Barstool stuff.
Matt Brown (31:08):
A swag. Some swag. You’ll have to do a podcast in one of the little Barstool hats. How about that?
Dustin Gouker (31:14):
Well, that’s not going to happen. So-
Why is a DraftKings founder swearing at his rival?
Matt Brown (31:17):
Well, we can throw it out there then because there we have it. Dustin, I do want to go to you. I mean, we talk a ton about Portnoy and whatever, and normally when we talk about other sportsbooks and stuff like that, we’re more talking about the business aspect of things. We’re not necessarily talking about a spokesperson or anything like that unless we’re talking about JB Smoove, which we do talk about here on the podcast a lot. He’s the greatest spokesperson that ever lived. But we did get an interesting little deal where we were talking about DraftKings for something other than an offerings or any kind of anything like that.
Dustin Gouker (31:51):
Yeah, I don’t know. It feels like everyone’s lost their minds in sports betting right now. The whole vibe of the industry right now is weird. It feels weird to me and maybe that’s just because I’m a little further removed now and I’m just watching it happen, not as … it feels weird. So what we had last night is one of the DraftKings co-founders, Matt Kalish, comes out and I don’t know, we’ll edit it for family.
Matt Brown (32:15):
No. We have to say what actually happened.
Dustin Gouker (32:17):
OK. It’s a family pod-
Matt Brown (32:18):
This is factual reporting.
Dustin Gouker (32:21):
He tweeted last night, middle of the night, and a bunch of us saw it or randomly on Twitter. I don’t know. “Fuck FanDuel” with a little trashcan next to it, and that’s very weird. I think we could all agree was that meant to be a DM to somebody? Was that meant to be a text message to someone? It’s certainly unprofessional to do that in a very public setting, I think we can all agree, and probably DraftKings and Matt in retrospect who deleted the tweet later on can all agree that this is the … but what presaged this? I don’t know. I didn’t get a sense that there’s this huge enmity between DraftKings and FanDuel anymore. Yes, they’re one and two, but what happened? Who hurt his feelings and why are we suddenly like eff FanDuel? Like yeah, I mean I guess you get it from a competitive standpoint, but yeah, we’re taking these little words in a tweet and unpacking it now, but that’s what we do. It was fascinating to see it, and it stayed up for a little while and then somebody’s like, “Hey, Matt, take that down.”
Matt Brown (33:29):
Adam, I know FanDuel was making the rounds on sports betting Twitter earlier that day because, so Kevin Durant got late scratched in the Suns’ game, and what they did as opposed to just adjusting all of the prop markets, whatever, they just took down the whole thing. So basically some of these guys know, OK, if this person’s on the court, then this equals X amount of usage for this guy, whatever. And it’s like they can go in and I guess try to take advantage of a guy that gets a massive amount of usage and points and stuff like that being off the court. As opposed to them adjusting numbers, they apparently just took the market down. I know they were getting a ton of flack for that, and I don’t know if just over the course of the couple cocktails or whatever, so I don’t know if that whatever, but I know there was at least that that was going on out there. But other than that, that’s my only working hypothesis actually. That’s all I’ve got
Adam Candee (34:23):
I expected by this point we would have either a hacking explanation or an apology, and we have neither. And I will tell you that we asked DraftKings about this, and they clearly were quick to decline comment. We talked to some other people elsewhere in the industry who suggested that this was potentially a bit of humor gone wrong. We’re talking about humor with a multimillion-dollar company with a board of directors that I’m sure is probably not amused by such things. And we’re also talking about a man who earlier this week, let’s just call it what it is, came into even more money than he originally had by cashing in some options that he had. And it’s eight figures worth of stock that is now in pocket. I am not going to even posit a reason as to why this would happen. I am simply doing the “we report, you decide” aspect of this to say, here are all the things we know as either fact or has been intimated to us. You figure out exactly what happened.
All I know is that, and I have to be fair about this, for as much as we talk about a guy like Dave Portnoy, we would have Dave Portnoy strung up over this. If he had done this to another sportsbook, we would have him absolutely strung up. And we have to be fair in saying this is Matt Kalish going directly after the company that’s been either their rival or their potential merger partner for more than a decade.
Matt Brown (36:03):
Well actually, at this point, we probably would’ve just been like, oh, par for the course from Portnoy. We probably would’ve just moved on and be like, oh yeah, whatever. That’s a Tuesday for him, whatever. That’s a Tuesday for him, whatever it might be. Yes. So it was certainly super interesting. Who knows, maybe something will come out down the road as to the genesis of all of that as well.
All right, Adam. This is super interesting, and when I say interesting, I’m kind of like, I say that from more scratch my head interesting, like huh? The thought of WWE betting never really even crossed my mind in a regulated market because of it’s scripted and someone knows exactly how it’s going to turn out because it’s made up. So I just assumed that this would never be something we would actually have to have a conversation on. Of course, they have … so to give the background, if you guys are not familiar with the whole WWE stuff, how that does work. Now, there have been free-to-play things at various sportsbooks and stuff like that along the way as more of just kind of the pool aspect of, OK, here’s the 10 matches that are going to be on Wrestle Mania or whatever, pick the winners and the winner wins free money. Those are all free to play and they’ve done that stuff before, but nothing that you could actually wager your actual money on. And so now we have a couple of states that were at least considering this or are considering this.
Adam Candee (37:23):
Reportedly, this comes out of a CNBC report on Wednesday saying that Colorado and Michigan report regulators were both considering this. Now, we did the legwork on this, and Colorado flatly denied it. They came out and basically said, “There is no truth to this story. We have not considered it, and here’s the process it would have to go through.” Michigan gave us sort of a canned, “This is the process we do for approving wagers.” So they didn’t really deny it, but Colorado flatly denied it.
I got a good laugh, and I’m sure Dustin did as well with our friend Alun Bowden from over in the UK, mocking Americans for clutching their pearls over the idea of WWE betting, saying that it’s happened over there for quite a long time with low limits and so on and so on. The comparison that I want to make clear here on this is those who are talking about it in the same vein as the Academy Awards. This is not the same as the Oscars at all. Not even close. Yes, it is something where the outcome is predetermined and some people know about it, but we’re talking about hundreds of people in the academy voting for things who are not all getting together to potentially fix the outcome on something for the purpose of winning a wager. When it comes to WWE, it is a small group of people writing the scripts for these things who could absolutely be influenced in that way. Now, if the limits are low, I get it.
Matt Brown (38:45):
And typically one guy making the last final decision too, because typically it’s kind of like Vince McMahon’s got to put his stamp on it at the end.
Adam Candee (38:51):
Yeah. And to the point of what we’re talking about, David Purdum from ESPN reported that he knows an offshore bookmaker who said that they know based on which accounts are betting on which side, who’s going to win the WWE match. So clearly, I’m not going to say the fix is in, but the knowledge is out there when it comes to certain bettors. And look, this isn’t about the limits in the end. This isn’t about whether it’s a novelty market. This is about overall, would there be the opportunity to undermine faith overall in the industry? I’m not going to go too deep on that. I get it. Everybody knows wrestling is fake. Everybody knows that it’s scripted. We’re not saying that because wrestling is scripted, that the NFL is scripted like we’ve had to hear about for the last few months, but it doesn’t help.
Matt Brown (39:37):
Right. I agree. So Dustin, I guess, OK, let’s just play devil’s advocate here. Would you have lost your mind if, let’s say State X decided that they were going to do it, but it was $50 limits. There was no parlays, so you couldn’t parlay 10 together to get whatever. It’s literally singular betting, that’s all that’s available, and the limit was $50 per match. Would this be something that would bother you?
Dustin Gouker (40:04):
I’ve calmed down since yesterday. It would not be the end of the world if that happened. Where I come from, it is, why do we need this? Again, we’ve just spent the last 40 minutes talking about the headaches that are enveloping the sports betting industry. You know what we really need, is to introduce into that betting on scripted matches. Come on. Yes, come on again. Yeah. We all see in Twitter and everywhere else in social media, people believe all these other sports are already scripted, and now we’re going to have betting on things that are actually fixed. Stop it. Just stop. That’s where it gets me angry. Yes. The low limits on it, whatever. What would this accomplish for anyone? I don’t know. We don’t exactly know what the genesis of this is, but it appears to be WWE going around saying like, oh, we’re going to certify results, I guess, and keep it quiet and trying to get a bounce from, oh, people can bet on WWE across the US. That’s what it seems like.
We don’t really have a sense that, I guess sportsbooks are going out there clamoring for this. I hope they’re not. I just don’t know what any of the… yeah, low limits. We went through Oscars, and it was kind of interesting, because it was really early, New Jersey approved it, and we had some other places approve it, and it was a PR thing at this point. It was like, oh, people are suddenly like, oh, you can bet at these regulated sportsbooks that had the Oscars betting when was happening at offshore for years and years and years. So it was interesting. Like WWE, we’re not going to get any kind of bounce out of that on the sportsbook side. Oh, suddenly you can bet on WWE. Who cares? And you’re not acquiring some better who’s super valuable. These are, again, not to dump on the demographic of WWE, but if they’re not already sports fans and betting on other stuff, they’re low limits on WWE, who cares from an industry or a sportsbook operator standpoint?
I just don’t know what this accomplishes and who’s it… if it was just WWE going around rogue trying to get this on the betting menu, great. As a growth story, I guess I sure. Great. Go for it. If this is some kind of push within the industry is like, oh, we need WWE betting, please sign me out of that chat, and I don’t want anything to do with it.
Matt Brown (42:09):
Yeah. Adam, I mean look, you follow the business side of even just the, I’m not going to call it a sport or whatever tangent, sport adjacent whatever, with all that. So the first thing I thought about with all this is this was certainly an inside job from WWE. We know that Vince McMahon has at least been having talks to try and sell the thing. We know that it is for multiple billion dollars that he is looking to sell the thing and all of that. And it seems like drumming up any sort of something that makes it seem more appealing, more attractive, more in the mainstream, more headlines, more Google searches, whatever it might be, is look, love or hate Vince McMahon, and I don’t know him as a person, he seems like he’s probably not the greatest human being, but I’m not going to question his business acumen. He has turned grown ass men who wear little tights and do ballet out there into a multi-billion dollar business. I am not going to question this guy’s business acumen. So I assume that he’s probably pretty calculated, and it would not surprise me in the least bit if he thought that this would just be something that could boost the value of the sale price of this thing.
Adam Candee (43:12):
That’s an outstanding point about the timing of all of this and the fact that, yeah, slapping sports betting onto an organization like WWE definitely feels like the kind of add-on that you say to someone interested in buying the company, “Hey look, we’ve got betting on it too,” and that’s the carrot that’s out there. So yeah, I can see that from the WWE perspective. I could see them wanting some of the partnership money that everyone has gotten their hands on at this point. From the other side of this, if you are say, a DraftKings that already has pools on it and you are looking to increase numbers for your shareholders in terms of saying how many app downloads we had last quarter, how many signups we had, if you’re still trying to push that as opposed to how much those customers are betting what their lifetime value is, then yeah, I could definitely see it from the operator side as well as the opportunity to just boost that part of the numbers.
So I’m not really questioning what I think the business case is on either side of it. I just ultimately, when it comes down to what should the legal and regulated market be involved in, I don’t want to see these decisions made in a scattershot manner where it’s just like, oh, now it’s the Oscars. Oh, now it’s WWE betting this. Have a philosophy. Have an idea of what we should be doing overall. I know it’s hard for regulators who are just trying to keep up with this brand new industry that’s been around less than five years, and most of them are still trying to learn the ins and outs of all of it. Frankly, some of the people at the sportsbooks are still trying to learn the ins and outs of all of it, but these little decisions that in their vacuum seem like they might not be a bad idea and seem like, what’s the harm? What could it ultimately do? They can have unintended consequences, and it just would like to see it considered in a more full form.
Matt Brown (45:04):
Yeah. And Dustin, you brought up the Academy Awards and different things like that. I mean look, I actually have pretty good faith in the process with the Academy Awards because we have seen, just since it’s been legal, a couple of different markets get a ton of steam only to end up not winning, being wrong. So it seems like people thought they had inside information, which they did not and all that. So I actually have some pretty good confidence in that being very, very tightly held and all that. I mean, but as Adam mentioned, the difference is when we’re talking about the WWE is that it’s a room of 10 people sitting around who are just making the decision themselves, going to the one guy who puts the stamp on it. There’s a lot of the ways that this could leak out and get out and whatever. And by the way, who else has to know how the thing goes? The wrestler themselves. They have to know what goes on there. So they’ve got friends and they’ve got whatever and all that. They have to know what they’re doing when they get out to the ring. So it’s not even just the people in the room the wrestlers have to know too. So there’s just a lot of different ways that this can just get wonky.
Dustin Gouker (46:05):
Yeah. I wait for the day when the script leaks and somebody goes off script in the middle or, “Oh, we put out the fake script.”
Adam Candee (46:15):
Montreal screwjob, y’all.
Dustin Gouker (46:18):
We need that be part of it into the betting industry like we need a hole in the head. Come on. We just don’t need it. And yes, I think Adam said it, this is not the Oscars. This is not draft betting. This is not the… stop equating these things. Yes, predetermined. It has nothing to do with what is not an actual sporting event. It’s like, I mean, yeah, it’s almost like betting on TV shows, I guess. Again, happens offshore. Apparently happens in the UK too. We just don’t need that smoke right now when we are dealing with all these other issues and people just like, people just trying to wrap their heads around it. Let’s not introduce chaos into what is already something that’s very fragile right now.
Matt Brown (46:59):
Adam, it leads to housewives betting and Survivor betting and whatever, and all these things like the Voice and American Idol. That’s where… I’m saying this kind of only half joking.
Adam Candee (47:11):
Hey. I will bet on The Voice from here to forever, sir.
Matt Brown (47:17):
You know who’s going to win?
Adam Candee (47:17):
I will bet on the Voice from here … I’m betting on which coach. No, it’s great. You can bet on which coach’s team will ultimately win, right? I am so in on that.
Matt Brown (47:24):
See? I mean, but again, just throwing out some things like you said, Adam. It’s like, OK, so you say OK to this, and then it’s like, then someone says, well, what’s the harm in this? And then what’s the harm in this? And then what’s the harm in this? And the next thing you know, it’s like we’re betting on whether Nay-Nay is going to rip someone’s hair out on Housewives this week or something, or whatever. It’s kind of like-
Adam Candee (47:41):
Oh, OK. Are you talking about Nay-Nay or Nene? Because they’re very different people. Very different people.
Matt Brown (47:45):
I’m sorry. I don’t know what her … I don’t even know.
Adam Candee (47:48):
No, I’m talking about Nene from the NBA, dude.
Matt Brown (47:50):
Oh yes. Sure. I thought you were … I was like, oh, I actually don’t really know her name. I thought it was-
Adam Candee (47:54):
No, this is clearly a crossover episode of the LSR Pod.
Dustin Gouker (47:59):
Also, one last shout out, you cannot bet on the next Disney CEO on regulated sportsbooks. Stop sharing that nonsense into my timeline.
Matt Brown (48:08):
Yes. Also, yes. This is truth coming from Dustin. If you want to ask whether you can actually bet on it, you can just tweet him @DustinGouker or you can ask Adam @AdamCandee, two E’s no Y, if any of these markets are actually available anywhere in the United States. So you can do that. And by the way, we have great resources here, people. If you want to write articles or you want to deliver things like that, got some really good resources if you want to really make sure that you’re buttoned up before you hit submit on that thing. That’s just a little piece of advice out there if you want to follow me because you hate yourself @MattBrownM2. And of course, everything we do here absolutely free. So your support is absolutely free as well. If you just hit that subscribe button down below or give us a rating and go in, give us a little review as well. Do appreciate that Adam and staff have everything over at legalsportsreport.com so you can get the full in-depth version of everything that we talk about here on the pod.
For Adam, for Dustin, I’m Matt. Talk to you guys next week.