Hard Rock Bet Closer To Florida Restart | Sports Betting News | LSR Podcast 207
Another court decision goes the way of those seeking legal sports betting in Florida, but one potentially large hurdle remains. Also, the crew reacts to a 9/11 promo in poor taste from DraftKings and the latest scuttlebutt on social media around fantasy sports operators offering sports betting products.
Hello and welcome to episode number 207 of the LSR Podcast. My name is Matt Brown, joined each and every week by the brightest minds in all the gaming industry. With me, I have two of those in Adam Candee, Dustin Gouker. They’re on the Twitter machine, X machine, Twitter machine. It’s Twitter forever. Twitter forever on this podcast. It is @DustinGouker, and it’s @AdamCandee, two E’s, no Y. And if you hate yourself, you can follow me @MattBrownM2. We’ll talk a little bit about maybe a poor choice in promotion. We will also talk about something that happened in Monday Night Football that maybe they should have gone a little bit different … I should say Sunday Night Football, and maybe they should have had a different option for betting on that over at FanDuel, and we’ll talk about a guy that we know, a prominent guy out in the industry who’s kind of issued a challenge, if you will, that has been put out there. But Adam, let’s kick things off with Florida.
Yeah. We have to start with what could become the biggest sports market in the country again, as it looks like the path is largely clear to Florida sports betting after sort of a, I guess we can call it, not a last ditch, but maybe a second-to-last ditch appeal by West Flagler who has been pushing against the compact that the Seminole Tribe has with the state of Florida that allowed it to start its Hard Rock Bet app, then was subsequently shut down. Anyway, in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, they were denied a re-hearing on a petition that did not go their way. The long and short of it is, if you are in Florida and you’re waiting for Hard Rock to restart its app, it could, big asterisk on “could,” start within a week or so.
Now, West Flagler has the option to take this to the Supreme Court. Our John Holden has written on it and said that he does expect that they would ask the Supreme Court to take up the case. However, as we probably remember from the PASPA days, it is rare for the Supreme Court to choose to actually take up a case that has been put in front of it. About 1% of the cases that are sent to the Supreme Court will actually be heard by the Supreme Court. Now, John thinks that this could get wrapped up with some other tribal issues, and that would give it a better chance to be heard at the Supreme Court, but as of right now, what we’re talking about for Florida is the fact that Hard Rock could restart sometime soon.
Important to keep in mind that this market continues to be a total monopoly. It is Hard Rock, Hard Rock, or Hard Rock. You will not have other options in the state, unless another sportsbook is willing to pay a significant revenue share to Hard Rock, which, as evidenced by their attempt to get a petition on the ballot a couple of years ago to open up the market, they are not particularly excited about.
So Dustin, when we take a look at this, we are familiar with the team behind everything that’s going on over there at Hard Rock Digital, and so I am not thinking we would get the same thing we got when there was a monopoly in D.C., which we were getting horrible lines, we were getting absolutely absurd things where we even said on this podcast, “You should probably just keep your money offshore as opposed to betting into these markets, because it’s absolutely obscene.” I don’t imagine we will be getting the same, even though they would be technically the only game in town. I use that with air quotes, because there is still bookies and offshores and stuff.
Yeah, I don’t believe that Hard Rock’s going to run this badly. Again, I live in a monopoly state with DraftKings in Oregon. I get — it’s a good product. It’s a good product. It’s like DraftKings everywhere else. I get retention bonuses, I get promos, I get all of that stuff. I don’t get worse odds. I mean, DraftKings just is making all the money in Oregon, which not necessarily right, but it is what it is.
I think Hard Rock running as a monopoly does the same, runs the same product it runs everywhere else, gives good odds, promotes it, tries to get players to come in and stay. And at the end of the day, that’s fine. It’s better than the status quo of nothing. It’s better. And again, like Adam said, we have at least a chance of more of that. Again, remiss if I’d say, you can play fantasy versus the house in Florida right now if you want to. You want to, you can. I’m saying, if you’re the Seminole Tribe, maybe you’d want to take a look at this and see if this DFS, Daily Fantasy Sports product, is at all like sports betting, and maybe you’d want to stop that if you’re going to have legal sports betting in the state. Just saying.
Crew reacts to a 9/11 promo in poor taste from DraftKings
Maybe that’s a little … That’s a long tease here to our last topic that we’re going to talk about a little bit later in the program here. So listen, 9/11 just happened. Obviously we’re recording this on the 13th, so a couple of days ago. Dustin, there was something at one of the sportsbooks that was up momentarily, got taken down, and in retrospect, you kind of wonder who gave the seal of approval on all of that.
Yeah, momentarily. We’ll get to that in a second, but DraftKings had a promoted parlay based on 9/11, having all the New York teams win that night, saying “Never forget” on your little … Again, I didn’t see it on my DraftKings app, but a lot of people did. You could parlay the, what was it, the Mets, the Jets, and the Yankees all to win on 9/11, with “Never forget” on it. I don’t know, plus 600-some odds. Totally tone-deaf. I mean, obviously these promoted parlays are not going terribly far up the food chain, but it’s a crazy amount of lack of respect for the brand that you’re even thinking about running this, because as soon as it gets out in the world, people are just dunking on this left and right. I saw it the night, was it … It came out during Sunday Night Football, I think people started seeing it, right? And people are like, “This has to be fake. Somebody photoshopped this.” But there’s multiple versions of it going around. It’s like, yes, this is real. This is actually up. And they tell you how many people bet on it, something like 1,000 people bet on this before they actually pulled it down. So momentarily, I don’t know, it was up for a long enough time that hundreds of people were betting on this parlay. I don’t know.
The larger story is DraftKings and FanDuel. They have the lead right now, but it’s just wild to me that they do things that are not respectful of their own brands. Again, I know this doesn’t go up … It doesn’t even … It’s so far down the food chain that this decision probably got made, but why isn’t it instilled in people down the org chart saying, “You got to think about the brand. What are we gaining out of a parlay about 9/11?” It’s just such a bad look. And the fact that there’s somebody in the company saying, “Man, great idea, let’s do a parlay commemorating 9/11.” I don’t know. And I’m also … Nobody should be selling anything around 9/11 really, let alone a sportsbook. You don’t need to mention 9/11. You can put an American flag out and respect that. Do you need to sell something off of 9/11? No. Please don’t do that.
Yeah, Adam. I agree with Dustin, the fact that … I mean, this was probably made by someone way down the line, like a lower-level marketing person who thought that this was going to be a good marketing idea. Obviously it was the exact opposite of a good marketing decision in all of this. But more than anything, it just comes down to, if there’s any question whether you should hit submit on something, just about anything, and we’ve talked about this with Twitter accounts with these sportsbooks, and all these different things like that, some of these tweets that they used to do, if there’s a question whether to hit submit or not, then the answer’s probably already directly in front of you.
Yeah. That’s wholly accurate, guys. And I have to take you a little bit behind the curtain, because when this was pointed out to me late on Sunday night, my initial inclination was not to give it any more volume at Legal Sports Report. My initial inclination was to say, “This is in very poor taste, but I also do not like getting into outrage porn.” The idea of amplifying outrage for outrage’s sake. There’s so much of that out there, and if you think I’m not respecting 9/11 in saying that, please understand that I’m from New York, I was in the World Trade Center towers as a child, I understand everything that goes with it.
I also think it’s worth keeping in mind here that what happened likely involves, and I’m not going to absolve them for doing this because they don’t get absolution for this, but we are now 22 years past 9/11, and we are at the point where you likely have people who are working in some of these marketing positions and working in these jobs who either weren’t alive or were very small children when this went on, and don’t have the same connection, just inherently, just the same thing that we’re talking about where immediately in our heads we go, “Oh, no, no, no. No, you do not build a parlay and put ‘Never forget’ on it. You just don’t do that.” I think that you probably have to also keep in mind that we are now getting to the point in time where people might need to be reminded as to exactly what it was.
Yeah. No, it’s a very good point. I mean, I was with you. I looked at it, I was kind of like, “I mean, seriously, guys,” but it wasn’t like … Everyone was screaming from a mountaintop that it was the worst thing that ever happened in sports betting, and I guess I’m old enough to remember some of the things that these industries have done, some of the things that have been done and have been said and been whatever to where I’m kind of like, of all the things to be jumping up and down about, this is more of a, “Guys, what the hell are you doing?” As opposed to like, “Oh my God, this is the worst thing that ever happened.”
Dustin, one of the things though you and I did talk about a little bit on your personal place where you get to go, and RAMP did write about, there was a bet that was offered, so people thought, over at FanDuel on Sunday Night Football in which … first touchdown. And that is a very common bet, and it is, if anyone plays fantasy football, when you draft a defense, you also are getting their special teams. Basically, most places, it is under the assumption that defense special teams is the position, because there’s not ever a separate special teams, there’s always defense special teams. But that was actually not the case for the first touchdown bet.
Yeah. Well, let’s back up. Obviously, the Sunday night game, Cowboys-Giants, first touchdown scored on a blocked field goal by the Cowboys. Yes, you would normally, in most regulated US sportsbooks, you would’ve gotten the defense special teams. FanDuel sometime in recent history changed their house rules to say defense does not include special teams. The problem being though that there is literally no way to win this bet at FanDuel. When the special teams scored the first touchdown, nobody won. FanDuel takes all of the bets. Which again, they’re very … I don’t really have sympathy for people who are complaining, because it’s very clear that you don’t get special teams, right?
Debatable, though. I mean, it’s a defensive down, maybe, but they’re kicking a field goal. Most rational people can see that as special teams. The problem is that, again, whether your house rules say it, regulators are fine with it, why is FanDuel scooping all the bets and not giving you even a chance to win the bet? Again, I outlined, even at the places we don’t want to mention, the Bovadas and BetOnlines, you can bet the field. Anybody else in the entire … Anybody else who whoever takes the field and scores a touchdown, you can place that bet.
The problem is that I just don’t understand … Again, it goes back … It’s almost the same as DraftKings to me. Why are you damaging the brand for nothing? I understand some of the reasoning. You don’t want to pay out both a player and the special teams potentially on a first touchdown bet. Sure, but find other ways around it. You can say nobody won the bet, you can pay the next touchdown that’s scored, any of these things. Instead, we have this bad look that… I mean, obviously I amplified it a little bit, but there’s a lot of pissed off customers at FanDuel for a minuscule amount of money, that again, you’re not helping your brand by doing this. You’re making, I don’t know, four or five figures or saving money. Who cares? You’re making bazillions of dollars a year. Just find a way to pay people on a first touchdown bet and be done with it, instead of making me yell at you for it.
Yeah. Adam, I think as people who bet regularly, we would say that a market in which there is an outcome in which you cannot win, that there is absolutely no way to win it, is probably a bad market.
Yeah, Matt. I think there’s only one real solution to this market, and you could say that, as a Giants fan, I’m being slightly biased here. I think we have to call off the play and redo it. I don’t think we can keep the play. If there was clearly no way to win the bet on it, then the play was not valid. We need to go back, we need to restart the game, we need to give the Giants another opportunity at this field goal, to not be down 7-0 immediately. It’s only fair.
Listen, I’ll be with you on that one. We want to close things out here, Dustin, a person that we know follows in the gaming space, in the gaming law space, very much so, Marc Edelman, put out the Pepsi challenge essentially to one of the things that you are very passionate about here. Just run people through what’s going on.
Latest scuttlebutt on social media around fantasy sports operators
Yeah, there’s been a lot of chatter about daily fantasy sports, which you can call it whatever you want, 2.0, fantasy versus the house. Again, the market that is PrizePicks, Underdog, Betr, and many others. They put out a “white paper” saying how super legal they are everywhere. Sure. Their legal arguments are fine. They’re pretty good. But Marc, who’s been in this space since I’ve been in it, talking about the legality of it, I mean well before I am in terms of looking at it as an academic and from a legal standpoint, said, “OK, I want to see your unredacted legal opinion.” I’d love to see that, too, because that’s more than a white paper that shows this to us from the exact … This white paper I’m talking about came from Underdog Fantasy as their rationale for being in all of the states that they are in, which some are states with DFS laws, some are states that only have game of skill laws, and … I don’t know. The three of us I know have been talking about this privately too.
It’s hard to have a serious conversation about this, because just like the first version of DFS, we can’t have a serious conversation about whether this is gambling. It has to be black or white. There’s this line between DFS and sports betting. Over here is sports betting; over here is DFS. That is not how it works. These things are … The Venn diagram of gambling and DFS, it’s both. It’s fine. It’s also fine that yes, maybe you’re super legal, or very legal in a lot of places. Other places, there’s some gray area about … Or way more than a gray area about whether you’re gambling or not. But we can’t even have the conversation, because as soon as you have the conversation about, oh yes, we’re actually gambling, but we’re using DFS laws as our legal basis, then the house of cards falls apart, so we can’t have an honest discussion about whether this is gambling or not.
That’s the problem. I can buy that it’s legal in a lot of places, based on the laws that are written. What I don’t buy is that it’s not sports betting, also that you’re not gambling, because again, pick’em contests versus the house are the same exact mechanic as parlays. There is no difference, other than the legal basis you are using to run them. And again, where the whole argument falls down, let’s say DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and Caesars all put out a press release tomorrow saying, “You know what? We’re going to run pick’em fantasy contests all across the country in all these states that these companies do.” That’s a great way to get it all shut down, actually. They should do that, because there’s no way people are going to say, “Yep, cool, DraftKings and FanDuel. You’re just going to have parlay bets on players everywhere in California and Florida and Texas and all these other states. Cool.” Regulators aren’t going to say, “That’s cool.” There would be a vicious reaction to that if that happened.
That’s where all this analysis falls flat for me, is that DraftKings and FanDuel and everybody else can’t do this. Again, we think in the bubble, PrizePicks, Underdogs, these are big companies to us. They have not really gotten through in the consciousness of the larger world. Regulators are still wrapping their heads around what this is, although there was apparently a PrizePicks commercial on an NFL broadcast this week. I did not see it, but I’ve been told by one Matt Brown that there was.
Anyway, I just want to have an honest conversation with people about it, whether this is gambling or not, because … Not the legal basis, because I barely even care about the legal basis, because we’re just throwing it over on the side saying, “You know what? It’s legal. Who cares whether it’s gambling or not? It’s just legal.”
Yeah. It’s super interesting, Adam, whenever we want to have discussion about all of this. I mean, there’s a lot of mental gymnastics that go on with everything to get to why this would be legal. And as Dustin stated, letter of the law, all the different stuff like that, whatever, but now we’re getting one response to the deal of … Like the analogy of pop-a-shot at Dave & Buster’s, and there’s all the stuff that’s going on. It’s like the mental gymnastics it takes to get to the place where you’re trying to explain why this is all on the up-and-up and makes total sense, it’s kind of like we’re all sitting back here going, “Do you really even believe that? I get it, you have to say the certain thing, whatever. Do you really even believe that?”
I’m not even … I’m more like in Dustin’s camp now at this point, where I’m not even like, look, if it’s legal by the letter of the law, then so be it, and do what you got to do, and if DraftKings and FanDuel and all them want to lose their minds and try to get this shut down, then it is what it is. But trying to do this whole word manipulation and all this Jedi mind trick stuff about why it is legal and stuff, it’s just like, I’d rather you just tell me, “Look, we’re doing it, it’s legal by the law, shut us down if it’s not legal.”
And multiple places have shut them down for being not legal, or at least told them that the product needs to significantly change. And the part that I will not allow Underdog or anyone else in this space to do is to reframe this argument as it’s DraftKings and FanDuel against us. No. No, no, no. Even if it were DraftKings or FanDuel, I have no idea if it was, but if it were DraftKings or FanDuel who had gone to, say, the Wyoming regulators, who sent you a cease-and-desist letter that said you need to shut down, trust me on this, no state level regulator is taking direction from DraftKings and FanDuel. They are evaluating the product and looking at it independently and saying, “You can’t do this.” And Michigan and New York aren’t changing their rules to go and make clear that this type of game is not allowable because some operator told them that they don’t like the fact that it’s there. If you got narced out, I’m sorry. And if you got narced out by someone you’re competing against, oh well. That’s just reality, and I’m not going to let them.
And this is what they tried to do. Underdog tried to reframe this whole thing as, “This is because DraftKings and FanDuel want to shut us down.” And then we had another smart person out there, with apparently some term called DFS plus that I had never heard before, also trying to say that this is about it being anti-competitive. Well, let’s talk about the very basic nature of competition. The idea of competition is competition on a level playing field. And so that’s really what we’re talking about here. The product itself is a sports betting product. It is a fantasy versus the house. It is a sports betting product that is being offered under DFS law. And we’ve heard it from multiple states, in fact, look at Colorado if you want an example again. Look at Colorado saying, “You can only do this if you have four outcomes and it’s based on fantasy points and not on stats.” And you agreed to it. But you’re being disingenuous when you go out there and say, “Look, Colorado said it’s OK.” No, they didn’t say that it’s OK.
So if we can have this discussion in some sort of rational terms, then I’m happy to, but right now we are all kind of down in the muck trying to redo 2015 all over again, and I don’t think that there’s any need to. We can listen to what the regulators are saying about these products, report on that, and let that be where we keep the forum for discussion here. Because if Underdog, PrizePicks, et cetera, want to go against the regulators, if they want to keep offering the product, if they want this to end up in court, then fine. We’ll get a decision in court. But right now, the fact of the matter is it is disingenuous to say that regulators are OK with these games.
Again, I know I’ve said this on this podcast before, but I’m going to reiterate it. If DraftKings and FanDuel thought they could do this and not get any static for it, they’d have done it years ago. They would’ve done it before all of this. It’s such a straw man to say, “DraftKings and FanDuel could just do this.” They cannot. They’ve already run that calculus. Again, maybe it’s just risk tolerance, but they know at this point that they’d lose enough gaming licenses, and that probably turns to a domino effect, that there is no way that they could remotely offer the same product that all of these companies are. Again, I understand some of them are in the regulated betting space too, but on a state-by-state basis, some of this is going to slip through.
And I’m still not a buyer that all of these companies are also going to be able to offer sports betting everywhere. Again, I think that’s just a straw man. DraftKings and FanDuel have run this. I mean, everybody would do this, so they just thought, “Oh, this is cool. Yeah, let’s just do this.” Again, because there’s too much legal risk for actual gambling license to do this, so it is not a level playing field. By no means is it that. I don’t know.
And if you, say, follow us on the Twitter machine, the things that are being called daily fantasy sports, the line just keeps getting moved. Again, we talk about the main companies, PrizePicks and Underdog, Betr, are the ones we talk about, because they’re the ones who are most out there taking a lot of bets or doing press releases or putting stuff out. There are like, I don’t know, eight to 10 other companies doing the same thing that you never heard of. One of the ones that Adam and his team have reported on called No House Advantage that I guess basically became insolvent, or is still paying players out. I don’t know.
But here’s what’s going on in the market. There’s one called ParlayPlay where you can go bet on Valorant. I don’t even know if I’m saying that right. Do you guys know what that even is? It’s an esport, and you can bet on two people and how many kills they have on maps, and that’s fantasy sports. You’re parlaying two performances in an esport that most people have probably never heard of, and that’s using the same legal justification that we’ve heard, this is so legal. Same legal justification, exact same.
There’s also, you can bet on the number of pitches two pitchers throw in a single inning in any game today, probably, I think. Like the first inning, over/under how many pitches. Again, that’s daily fantasy sports, not sports betting. Who actually believes it’s daily fantasy sports? There’s never been a fantasy sport in the history of the world based on the number of pitches you throw. Again, you’re reading the letter of UIGA and these DFS laws. Sure, it’s statistics. Great. It’s just, I don’t think people realize the level of which this is gone. Again, if it stopped at over/under fantasy points, great. I don’t care. Do it to your heart’s content. But we just keep pushing the line to now it’s esports, it’s now single inning outcomes, there’s in-game fantasy at many … In-game fantasy, again, fantasy after the game has started, you can place entries on whatever. That’s what’s happening in the market right now. I still don’t think people really realize that.
And to the people who say, “Regulators are walking this back,” do you know how little attention people have paid to DFS after the initial wave of it, and DraftKings and FanDuel and the rest registering? Sometimes it’s not even the gaming regulator dealing with this. Correct me if I’m wrong, Adam, it’s like the Department of Agriculture or some crap in Virginia is in charge of it. Nobody’s paying attention to this, and there’s no… You can say, “They’ve looked at this.” No, they have not looked at this in great measure. They started the base level product, and then they’ve added on because nobody’s paying attention, and that’s really where this comes down to.
Yeah. I think, and Adam, just to put a bow on this, and I don’t want us to go too long here, and it seems like we rant about this every single week, but again, DraftKings and FanDuel catch a bunch of hell because they do same-game parlays and advertise same-game parlays and things like that, and whatever.
But you can bet just straight-up bets there. You can — whatever, like there is no option with this. If parlays are so horrible and they’re predatory towards betters and it’s responsible gaming and all the different things that we preach and everything on here, that’s the only way you can play this stuff. The only way it works is that you have to have multi-leg and you have to do parlays, you have to whatever. So there’s a whole aspect that we don’t really hit on from that too, where their product just in general is negative EV. It’s like a thing that you are entering into in which you are automatically behind the eight-ball, but it’s not peer-to-peer. You are against the house, so the house has the advantage, right? I mean, it’s just the way it works.
Yeah. And we could spend another 20 minutes talking about the parlays and whether it’s a good idea or not, but in the end, we’re just talking about there being a level competition and a level playing field in the end, and there’s nothing wrong with certain companies offering certain products if they are doing it under the auspices of the same law that the other companies offering similar products are doing it.
Yeah. I want to highlight something Adam I think said privately as well. Do you think if DraftKings just started offering in, say, Pennsylvania … Sports betting is taxed at a fairly high rate there. Do you think Pennsylvania would be cool like, “We’re going to offer sports betting, but we’re going to call it DFS, we’re going to pay less taxes”? Again, that’s why this doesn’t happen in Pennsylvania, because somebody figured this out already or looked at it and said, “You can’t do this. It’s obviously gambling. You can’t do it that way.” But again, it’s such a… I can’t get over how angering it is to me. Again, I feel like I should be representing DraftKings. I’m not, this is just how I feel, but it is just insane. DraftKings just can’t do this. You can knock on DraftKings for a lot of things. DraftKings cannot just go open up DFS against the house and everybody’s going to be cool with it. It’s not possible.
No. No, not possible. Then the outrage would actually come.
But that’s why they should do this. DraftKings and FanDuel, you don’t have to do any products, just say, “We’re going to start operating DFS versus the house parlay pick’em in 40 states,” and see what happens. That’d be great. I’m into that. Please do that.
Oh, man. Everything we do, absolutely free, so please go over to legalsportsreport.com, take in all the great words that Adam and company are doing, and I’m going to re-listen to this podcast as well. I think we said some great stuff on this. We got all fiery about these things, we ranted for a little bit longer than maybe we should have. @AdamCandee, two E’s, no Y, @DustinGouker over there on the Twitter machine as well. For Adam, for Dustin, I’m Matt. Talk to you guys next week.