Here Comes Florida, But For How Long? | Sports Betting News | LSR Podcast 215
The Hard Rock Bet app reopened in Florida for mobile sports betting, but it already faces a fresh legal challenge from a familiar opponent. Plus, Arizona and Mississippi join the list of states banning DFS pick’em games and an in-depth discussion of the PGA Tour’s problems with banning a player for betting, and ways to fix it in the future.
Matt Brown (00:07):
Hello, and welcome to episode number 215 of the LSR Podcast. My name is Matt Brown, joined each and every week with the brightest minds in all of the gaming industry. With me, I have Adam Candee. You can find his work over at legalsportsreport.com and find him over on the Twitter machine — absolutely free — Adam Candee, two E’s, no Y. If you hate yourself, you can follow me @MattBrownM2. Guys, everything we do, absolutely free. Please subscribe, rate, review, do all of those awesome things.
Hit the pause button, it’ll take you two seconds. Hey, welcome back. All right, there we go. All right, perfect. This is going to talk about a little bit about some golf stuff going on, things in Arizona, things in Mississippi, but Adam, let’s kick things off here over in Florida. Of course, the big story from our last podcast was the fact that Florida was going to be getting back in the swing of things over there.
Hard Rock Bet app reopened in Florida for mobile sports betting
Adam Candee (00:56):
We started with that, right? That Florida was going to be doing in-person sports betting by December. We asked the question, “OK, well then when does online sports betting start again?” Because we know that what we had previously, as in two years ago, was the Hard Rock Bet app, which was at the time Hard Rock Sportsbook available throughout the state of Florida, but only for a few weeks before a federal court case ultimately caused that to be taken down.
Now, the federal court case has generally played out in the favor of the Seminole tribe and of Hard Rock Digital, and so they felt comfortable relaunching even though there is a state case that is now pending, challenging the legality of Hard Rock Bet on different grounds than it was being challenged in the federal case. What did we see? As of Tuesday morning, Hard Rock Bet went live again in Florida. The app became available for people who had previously registered for who had previously bet with Hard Rock Bet you would be able to turn your app back on again and be able to wager legally anywhere within the state of Florida. Now, the trick to that is that you-
Matt Brown (02:04):
But not you, Calvin Ridley, not you, Calvin Ridley. Don’t … not you, Calvin Ridley. You don’t do that.
Adam Candee (02:07):
No, it’s a little, even though … Even though Jameson Williams is back on the field, it’s a different story.
Matt Brown (02:18):
Not you. Not you, Jameson, Calvin, you guys, not you, but everyone else, yes, everyone else.
Adam Candee (02:23):
No, no, sorry boys. But the Florida situation is such that if you want to wager with Hard Rock Bet, but you didn’t have the app previously and you hadn’t placed a wager previously, well they have it set up now to where you have to go to a Hard Rock Casino in Florida. You have to sign up for the loyalty program. You have to play at least enough to earn one point in the loyalty system and then you’ll be placed on a wait list. What we’ve heard is that the wait list is not that long, that they’re just verifying folks and getting them processed. But the point of the matter is that’s different than what it was initially, right? We did not initially have people having to go and register in person, but that’s not really the story here.
Because the story is just about as soon as Hard Rock Bet relaunched, here came West Flagler Associates, once again challenging this in court, this time at the state level asking essentially for an emergency stop to sports betting in Florida because they say that the in-person launch was essentially a distraction to be able to go ahead and do what was their ultimate goal, which is to relaunch the Florida sports betting product online. While it is still legally questionable, they, of course, West Flagler argues now at the state level that Florida sports betting was not authorized the way that it was supposed to be authorized, which is to go to the ballot and have voters vote on it, as opposed to have it being negotiated through the compact between the Seminole Tribe and Governor Ron DeSantis.
Look, you could spend plenty of time over at legalsportsreport.com reading the work that we’ve done talking about the legal challenges at the federal level, the legal challenges at the state level. The story as it is right now is that once again for the second time, the Hard Rock Bet app is live in Florida, there is a way for people to wager legally in Florida as of right now. How long that will last, we don’t necessarily know because we once again have a live challenge, this time as we mentioned at the state level, but for now, there is a legal way to bet online in Florida.
Matt Brown (04:37):
Yeah, the in-person angle, we know all too well, Adam, of the having to register and do all of that online. We know how that works because that is still the Nevada archaic way of doing things. Listen over there in Florida for all of the guys that were previously betting and all that, I do wonder, and maybe we’ll get some stats on this down the line, and maybe not because maybe this gets shut down again, but I do wonder what the reactivation process is for someone who’s had a dormant account for two years. What is the reactivation percentage of people who go, “Oh, all right, it’s only been two years, but let me hop right back into this,” or whatever it’s going to be. I’m sure they strategized about this a ton and tried to figure out what they thought was optimal, but we know how hard it is to acquire a customer in the first place and when you gave them a taste and then you took it away for two years, I wonder how many people are eager to jump back in.
Adam Candee (05:35):
I’m sure there will be people who have had the app and hear that it’s legal again and say, “Sure, I’ve still got some money in that account. I’ll give it a shot.” We know that also this is eventually plans for this to be a Hard Rock Bet app that is all-inclusive, right? That’s why it was changed from Hard Rock Sportsbook to Hard Rock Bet to eventually be able to offer online gaming, as well. I think the interesting part here is going to be, Matt, what you said, the idea that if you had the opportunity to be activated as an online sports betting customer, just period, an online sports betting customer, did you get that taste in Florida from Hard Rock Bet?
Then did you go download Bovada? Did you go download BetOnline? Did you just say, “Oh, well I’m just going to go do something else. Now, that I know I can bet online in Florida it’s been made aware to me, now I can go find some other products,” that of course is not actually legal but is available. Are they going to come back? Who knows? I still think that there will be plenty of people who never got in the first place within that very short window that it was available back two years ago and there’ll be plenty of people to be activated outside of that group. We will see in the long run, and again, we know that this challenge from West Flagler will probably be ruled on in the next few days as to whether or not it gets to stay live right now.
Matt Brown (07:00):
We’re rooting for you out there, Florida people. We’re hoping you get to stay in the legal market and not having to get pushed back to your online stuff offshore and/or your local bookie down the street.
Adam Candee (07:11):
Good luck, Florida man and Florida woman.
Arizona, Mississippi join states banning DFS pick’em games
Matt Brown (07:14):
Yeah. Yes. We were hoping here. All right, it’s another week. It is another talk about these pick’em contests out there.
Adam Candee (07:23):
Yes, Matt, I had to actually check when I put this onto the podcast rundown to make sure that this wasn’t one that we had already talked about because that’s been the velocity of the news when it comes to pick’em contests. This week, it’s the state of Arizona and the state of Mississippi both offering different levels of cease and desist, ban hammer, whatever you want to call it on pick’em DFS products. Arizona put out a letter to the pick’em companies saying that this is against the law and they were ordered to stop. In Mississippi, the guidance was a little softer than that, although interestingly, it did reference player versus house as part of the reasoning for why it is not allowable there. The point of the matter is the trend here is clear: The companies are going to continue to operate in those states.
They have not pulled out of those states that I just listed a moment ago, but you were the one who pointed out a couple of podcasts ago, Matt. I initially said, “Hey, that’s X amount of states out of 50 that have said that this is not something that’s allowed.” You, very wisely said, “Well, it’s actually less than 50 because they weren’t offering it in all 50 in the first place.” While the total addressable market might not be shrinking that much in terms of people quite yet because California and Texas haven’t done anything, it is shrinking in terms of the number of states and it is shrinking in terms of the amount of regulators who have not taken an official stance to say that this is allowable.
That’s still what we have not found. We still have not found any state regulator who’s coming out here and saying, “Yes, we are 100% comfortable with the fact that this is a legal product that does not violate any regulations or laws in terms of its similarity to sports betting with the pick’em contests that have been popularized by PrizePicks, Underdog, Betr, Sleeper, et cetera. Arizona, Mississippi added to the list that already included five other states that have explicitly put that ban out there this year in Michigan, in Florida, in New York, in Wyoming. Did I say Michigan already? I’m losing track at this point, but yes, there are at least seven that have made that move this year.
Matt Brown (09:44):
Yeah, it will be interesting to see. We know that Underdog has had their eyes on sports betting for quite a while. I wonder if this is basically a, “Hey, we’re going to speed this process up by a lot,” at this point because yeah, like you mentioned, sure they are still operating in some states out there, but you tick off a state here, another 4 million people, you tick off another state here, another 3 million people, another 8 million there. It is cutting into the bottom line any way that you look at it. It does make me wonder if we see an acceleration of Underdog’s plans to try to get into the legal sports betting market.
Adam Candee (10:21):
It certainly could happen. We know that they had that plan. The problem for them and for anybody in this space right now is that the regulatory headwinds have grown so much on what they have done already, that it’s going to be a fairly wary eye that’s going to be cast toward any of these companies and their viability, especially from the regulatory perspective and maybe even more so from the M&A perspective that it’s going to be very difficult for one of these companies to be acquired right now, even though they have built up a pretty impressive database that would be beneficial to some sports betting operator down the line. Matt, I have a question for you related to this. PrizePicks held a world championship in Atlanta this past week. OK, I’m going to read off a list of names to you. You ready?
Matt Brown (11:09):
Adam Candee (11:09):
OK. Druski, do you know Druski?
Matt Brown (11:14):
Adam Candee (11:15):
Meek Mill, Waka Flocka Flame, Tee Grizzly, Sean O’Malley, Overtime Megan, Steve Will Do It, Funny Marco and Book It With Trent. Are you familiar with these people? Are these regular features of your life?
Matt Brown (11:38):
The vast majority of the names I do definitely recognize, yes.
Adam Candee (11:42):
What? Wow. OK. I told the LSR crew, I was familiar with Meek and Waka just from their musical stylings and then Drewsky has made a big enough name for himself to be out there in a number of commercials. The rest, I thought to myself, “I’m not sure I’ve felt older than I do in this moment of not knowing these folks who probably fall under the influencer category.”
Matt Brown (12:06):
Yes, Sean O’Malley, MMA fighter, so know-
Adam Candee (12:09):
OK, there you go.
Matt Brown (12:10):
Adam Candee (12:10):
Matt Brown (12:11):
Yes, yes, things like that. But yeah, it’s interesting for sure. Listen, I keep seeing commercials, not cheap commercials. They’re airing in pretty prime slots and pretty prime spots. Adam, again, I’m not putting words in PrizePicks’ mouth or anything like that, but it does make me wonder if this is kind of a, “All right look, we might have a year left of this. Let’s make as much money as we can make in the next year and then if we get shut down, we get shut down. But we might can make enough money to live the rest of our lives in the next year. Let’s just do what we can do.”
Adam Candee (12:52):
You know, it’s not the first time someone has said that to me.
In-depth discussion of the PGA Tour’s problems
Matt Brown (12:59):
You’re like, “Oh, we’ll just say that and we’ll just leave it at that.” All right, Adam, let’s talk here a little bit about some golf stuff. We know all of the major sports have put in some sort of gambling laws into theirs. Of course, we joked a little bit earlier when I was saying that when Florida got turned back on, that was for everybody except you out there, Calvin Ridley, who obviously in that two-year window when it was open for a brief moment, did some stupid stuff and ended up getting himself suspended for a year from the NFL. We think the major sports, when we think about this, right, we think about football, basketball, and hockey and baseball and stuff. We don’t really think about some of these other sports, but there’s actually been gambling laws involved in tennis and golf and therefore a little bit of a hot minute for sure. Here, we find something getting laid down that made some decent headlines for the way that the PGA went about it.
Adam Candee (13:57):
Matt, I’m really torn on this story. This one is a challenge. I’m going to read out some of the details and then I want you to talk about this a bit because you obviously know both the golf world and the golf betting world as well as anyone out there. Here are the details of this. We see a suspension come down from the PGA Tour for a player named Jake Staiano. The important part to know is that he’s on the Korn Ferry Tour, which has had a million different names. It is the feeder tour for the PGA Tour, and he was suspended for three months for betting on golf. Now, if you just read the headline like that, it reads in such a way that you say, “Sure, it’s a golfer betting on golf. That is a major problem.” There weren’t a lot of details from the tour itself, but Staiano went on the Any Given Monday podcast, and he laid out essentially what he had done.
Look, he said, “I understand the principle. I understand you can’t bet on golf. They lay it out perfectly. You take this integrity program, so I didn’t deny gambling.” Here’s where it gets tough for me. He made four total bets totaling $116.20, and one of the bets was actually on a PGA Tour event. He made a bet on Bryson DeChambeau to make a birdie on a certain hole in 2021. The other three bets that he made were on the match when DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka faced off in 2021. Actually on an exhibition golf betting match that — golf match, Freudian slip, calling it a golf betting match — because this is a made-for-TV event that if it weren’t for betting probably wouldn’t exist in the first place. But that being said, it is essentially-
Matt Brown (15:38):
They were flashing odds on the screen the whole time that that was going down, whatever. Yeah, they were giving you hole by hole. Yeah, exactly.
Adam Candee (15:43):
It’s pretty clear that it’s an event that is made for betting. The reason I really struggle when it comes to golf is because these are independent contractors who are not members of a governing body, right? There is no union among PGA Tour players. They are not necessarily members of the PGA Tour. I understand that they often might have inside knowledge. That’s the part that makes it pretty tricky, where if they’re betting on other golfers, they might know someone who knows someone. They might share a coach, they might share an agent, they might share an equipment rep. All of these things could exist in which they might have some other form of information. That part is pretty clear. This is the part that’s really challenging for me, though. The three-month suspension takes them out of Q-School and so it’s not really a three-month suspension.
If you take a guy out of Q-School, and if you don’t know what we’re talking about, Q-School is essentially the tournament where guys have the opportunity to earn their card for next year to be able to play on the big tour. This is really a year-plus suspension because you keep the guy at a Q-School. To me, that doesn’t really seem in line with what he did. Maybe it’s just the timing of it all. Maybe they could have allowed him to do Q-School and then say, “Fine, you’re going to be suspended for the first three months after you get your card,” and at least give him an opportunity to play down the line on the tour in 2024. But I don’t know, man, that’s where I fall on this, but I’m really curious what you think about it.
Matt Brown (17:09):
Yeah, it’s very tough because these individual sports, it’s really, really tough because as you mentioned, not the same as it is in the NFL, and the NBA, and Major League Baseball and the NHL. It’s the same deal. We’ve already been through this with the UFC, right? It’s basically the same setup it is in golf. All of these guys, yes are members of, in this particular case the PGA, same deal with the UFC. They have a contract at the UFC, but again, they’re not full-time employees. They don’t have a union like you just said, there’s nobody making decisions or negotiating on their behalf and trying to figure out what’s best for them and getting things laid out specifically perfectly written out so you know exactly what you’re dealing with, et cetera, et cetera.
The reason we bring this up, even from that standpoint is because we saw the NFL PA go to the NFL and get this stuff written out and explained a whole lot better because after you and I jumped up and down and screamed into these microphones about the Jameson Williams situation, his suspension gets reduced by two games because the NFL PA, on behalf of their players, went in and said, “Hey, this was stupid. You guys got to fix this. We need everything laid out and spelled out perfectly. We need to know blah, blah, blah, blah.” That doesn’t happen for UFC fighters. It doesn’t happen for PGA Tour players. It doesn’t happen for any of that.
You get weird stuff like this, right? Like you’re saying, where — exhibition match, is that even really betting? There’s just so many different things in which you could nitpick and if you don’t have things expressly written out or exactly what you can and can’t do, then there’s a whole lot of gray area. Now, individual sports in general. Do I think that maybe there should just be a blanket ban that you can’t do anything within your sport? Probably, mainly because, not that you’d ever do it, but it’s not like a team sport. Yes, these guys have guaranteed salaries. There is no quarterback in the NFL that would risk his salary to throw a game or we’ve talked about this a million times. The salaries have gotten so big in the major sports that nobody of consequence is ever going to be compromised because the juice is not worth the squeeze.
It just doesn’t happen. You get these individual sports where contracts are not guaranteed and you can make money off of losing and things and stuff like that to where it just gets really, really murky with me. I would hope that something like this does at least have the PGA to come out with a very firm list of exactly the do’s and don’ts and the exact length of penalties for “If you do this, this. If you do this, this. If twice, then bam and all this.” But sometimes we say this, that good can come out of the bad. We talked about this with the Bijan Robinson situation a couple of weeks ago with the NFL, sometimes a bad thing can end up into a good situation. I hope that happens here for golfers.
Adam Candee (20:08):
Just as an aside about the Bijan Robinson situation, turns out the one we need to suspend is Arthur Smith. It turns out it’s the head coach who was really … In the span of two weeks, we’ve gone from yelling about the injury report in the NFL to yelling about the coach who won’t use his player in the first place. It’s like maybe there’s nothing nefarious, it’s just this coach is an idiot.
Matt Brown (20:27):
Adam Candee (20:28):
Matt Brown (20:29):
This is true.
Adam Candee (20:30):
To the golf point and to the point about Jake Staiano and betting on the sport. I think where I’m landing on this is a Jameson Williams feeling that yes, I understand that there has to be a penalty and that you cannot do this, and we need to make clear that you cannot do this. But I don’t think this punishment fits the crime at all.
Matt Brown (20:48):
Adam Candee (20:49):
I don’t think keeping the guy from having an opportunity to play golf on the PGA Tour next year is commensurate with $116 of bets, three of which were on an exhibition match that is made for betting in the first place. If we’re really being honest with ourselves about what golf is and the origins of golf, going back the longest of times, golf is a betting sport. It might be the original betting sport.
It is the sport where when you go play with your friends, it often involves betting when you’re just out there saying, “Yeah, we’re going to play a buck a hole, right?” Or “We’re going to play a Nassau, right? We’re just … Yeah. Hey, closest to the pin is getting beer bought for him,” whatever it is, is something that is inherent in the sport in such a way that it requires the PGA Tour to have more transparency. I get it. You probably are listening to this podcast thinking, “These guys always yell about transparency.” Yeah, because it’s the best way to make the regulated market more open and accessible to people and to give them more confidence in the way things are being done and the way either penalties are being meted out or guys are being deterred from doing things that they shouldn’t do.
Matt Brown (21:58):
Adam, I understand this is an incredibly slippery slope as well, but I think you understanding the nuance of the betting market and being an actual bettor the way that you do, I think you will understand this maybe than some of the people out there who are going to say, “Oh, you’re just trying to be an apologist for some of these guys,” whatever. But I honestly think how much is getting wagered should play into these decisions as well. I know, I understand it’s a slippery slope and whatever, but ain’t nobody getting rich off a $25 bet and nobody’s throwing anything, or you’re not compromising the integrity of anything and all there stuff off of a $25 bet, off a $50 bet, hell man, off of a thousand dollar bet. It’s just the case that it is.
I know, slippery slope and it’s all kinds of craziness when it comes to all that. But at the end of the day, if the reason we’re doing this is from an integrity standpoint, which is why we’re doing it, again, that has to factor in because $50 is not compromising the integrity of anything. A hundred dollars is not compromising the integrity of anything and wrong is wrong is wrong, and there should be some sort of penalty. I’m not saying that you will get to walk scot-free, but I do think it at least needs to be taken into consideration that it is quite obvious that you were not doing anything that was going to compromise the integrity of whatever event it was that was going on.
Adam Candee (23:20):
It brings to mind a story that my mom always tells me from when she was growing up, how my grandfather basically said to her when it came to smoking, drinking, whatever the vice was, he said, “If you’re going to try this, you’re going to try this in my house. You’re going to try it with me right here. If you’re thinking about going out and doing this with your friends or in a place that you shouldn’t be … No, you want to try a cigarette? OK, well, when you’re of the appropriate age, you try it right here.”
The idea to me in that is that when you talk about the transparency that could be involved here, let’s just say I’m going to throw a number out, $25, $50, a hundred dollars, let’s say the PGA Tour put in a policy to say, “You can place legal wagers at a regulated sportsbook up to X amount, any sport, whatever the sport might be.” We made it clear you could actually, if you were the type of person who really wanted to be an apologist, you could make a case that this would build engagement. You could make a case that people would be more interested in watching in a tournament if they knew that someone, a playing partner of someone was saying, “Oh yeah, I bet you 25 bucks can’t make that one.” It would almost be a way to engage.
I get it, the slope is probably way too slippery for that to ever happen. And the nuance is probably too difficult for the tour to want to parse out because a lot of stories might just say, “This guy bet on golf,” not “This guy bet $20 on golf.” But I think you and I are making the point here to say that if the idea is going to be recreational betting, then that’s a lot different than why we don’t want people to be able to bet on their own sport, which is that they might use inside information, they might influence a wager.
I guess that’s the hard part here as I talk this through, is that if you did allow recreational wagering, say you allow $25 bets on someone, well, that’s not the only money being wagered on that person. Someone might have a far more serious wager on that person and maybe a friend of a friend would just think they were screwing around to miss a putt to mess with somebody’s bet. I don’t know, man. I just feel like as we talk through all of this, we don’t think we have solutions necessarily, but we do feel like that there are better ways than what happened here.
Matt Brown (25:49):
Yeah, there is a way to get it. There is a way to get it done. Like you said, I understand that we’re far away from this, but if you’re the PGA and you have an official sports betting partner and everyone is allowed to bet with that official sports betting partner, and your account is officially monitored by this official sports betting partner. By the way, they can put limits on accounts just like they do with anybody else out there, and it’s like, “Hey, the account’s limited to a hundred dollar bets. You cannot bet anything more than a hundred dollars on anything within the account,” and all that. Again, we’re just talking through this on the fly here, but there are ways that this can be done that doesn’t compromise the integrity whatsoever, specifically because when you’re talking about golf, Adam, like you’re talking about …
You get paid when someone succeeds, right? That’s how you get paid, right? You’re going to say, “Well, what about a head-to-head?” It’s a hundred dollars head-to-head is throwing … No golfer is not making a putt because someone’s got a hundred dollars or something, that’s not how it works. If you know how head-to-heads work, then you can’t get make money off of a hundred dollar head-to-head. There are ways that this could be done and handled a little bit better, but certainly in this scenario, I’m with you. I hope a Jameson Williams situation does happen here where they go back and look at this and say, “Is this really worth making this guy sit on the sidelines for over a year, especially when we consider one, it’s the minor leagues anyway, so not making very much money to begin with, and then you’re basically taking away for that person to put food on the table for an entire year.”
Hopefully, we can get some cooler heads to prevail there on that one. Guys, as always, Apple, Spotify, Google, every single place that you go out and get your podcasts, we are on there, so please hit the subscribe button. It is absolutely free with everything that we do. Legalsportsreport.com for all of these stories in depth with all the great stuff that Adam and company are doing over there as well. If you want to follow Adam on the Twitter machine @AdamCandee, two E’s, no Y. For Adam, I’m Matt. Talk to you guys next week.