EPISODE 228 | LSR Podcast

Stop Saying It’s A Temple Of Doom | Sports Betting News


29 min
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Stop Saying It’s A Temple Of Doom | Sports Betting News | LSR Podcast 228

After integrity monitors flagged suspicious betting activity around Temple men’s basketball, the crew noticed something that most others did not: a system functioning well. Plus, what an NFL employee spent his stolen millions buying, ThriveFantasy looking ready to close up shop, and why Eric Ramsey thinks North Carolina is definitely a top-10 market.

Full transcript

Matt Brown (00:09):

Hello and welcome to episode number 228 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 Adam Candee. You can find him over on the Twitter machine absolutely free, @AdamCandee. That is two E’s, no Y. And if you hate yourself, you can follow me, @MattBrownM2. Everything we do, absolutely free. So go ahead, hit that subscribe button down below if you’re watching the video side of this. And if you’re on the audio side, we do appreciate not only the subscription, but if you want to rate and review, that helps us climb the charts as well. Do appreciate that.


You might remember us talking about the Jaguars guy. We’ll talk about that. You might remember that story from a while ago. We’ll talk about another one of these side projects that doesn’t look like it’s going to really thrive, if you will, in the market. Did you see what I did there? See what I did there? North Carolina. I know that you know this because everyone was telling you that sports betting was going live in North Carolina, but we will go ahead and give you our thoughts on all of that, a couple of state updates to end things. But Adam, let’s kick things off here with the Temple stuff.

Adam Candee (01:13):

Man, this is the sort of thing that I’m kind of surprised we haven’t had more of during the legal sports betting era, and I’m sure that’s a take that people within the regulated industry don’t necessarily want to hear. But let’s summarize real quick. A Temple and UAB game was flagged by U.S. Integrity, the monitoring service that works with a number of the college conferences, a number of the sportsbooks, for unusual betting activity. What was that unusual betting activity? Well, Matthew, I’ll fill you in on that even though you already know. When a game that is not a name kind of game, that does not have a major injury, that does not have some sort of eligibility issue, all of a sudden steams from one team laying one and a half to one team laying eight, something is amiss, and this is not the hardest thing that they’ve ever had to do, right?

Matt Brown (02:12):

Yeah. It’s one of those things where you take a look at this and it was, now they’ve dug into it, there was a couple of other suspicious line activities that went on with this team, and so now they’re really digging in to see what’s going on with all of that. Listen, college basketball outside of March Madness, and I guess you could say conference tournament times and March Madness, as you know Adam, the handle for college basketball, it’s a pittance compared to what it is for all the other sports, and certainly as you mentioned in a game like that, right? And so when tons of money starts flowing, it’s flowing fast and it’s flowing in a short amount of time, you start to wonder, “Hey, there might be something going on here.” And it seems like as they’ve started to dig, while there’s been nothing conclusive quite yet, as they’ve started to dig, it certainly looks like there’s probably … where there’s smoke, there’s fire type thing.

Adam Candee (02:57):

It is. And a couple of folks on Twitter who follow college basketball closely are like, “Yeah, this is the second time this year I’ve seen this with Temple where there’s some late steam that goes against Temple and all of a sudden Temple gets its butt kicked,” which is what happened in the UAB game. They ended up losing by more than three times the spread anyway.

Matt Brown (03:18):

Outrebounded by two and a half times and stuff, which you just don’t see in games. It’s just odd, just really weird stuff.

Adam Candee (03:25):

Yeah, yeah. So a few things to note out of this, and I’ll get the broken record thing out of the way first. This was caught in the legal market because of the legal market, period, end of story. Because if you think this is the first time this sort of thing has happened recently, you’re probably wrong. You probably can’t prove it because it was probably going on involving offshore. And so because it’s happening in the legal market, you have a better way to monitor that betting activity. And let’s be honest, like I said earlier, for U.S. Integrity, this isn’t a hard one, right? This is not a hard pattern for anyone who’s run a book to notice that something is unusual here, especially if they’ve seen it more than once with a certain team.


Now, there has been the usual rush to judgment from many talking heads about, “See, this is why the proliferation of sports betting is going to be a problem in the United States.” Actually, this is why having a legal and regulated market that immediately identifies irregularities and takes action to prevent them from happening in the future is a good thing. Because let’s go back in time. Nearly every college betting scandal we’ve had in the — what? — last 100 years, Matt, has been in college basketball, has involved point shaving and has been caught by sportsbooks.


Nevada sportsbooks, over time, have been the ones to identify when these irregularities have been happening. And now you have more monitoring going on because of the proliferation of regulated betting. So those who are using this to call it a harbinger of doom for the spread of legal sports betting, it’s misguided. You’re wrong about that. Do I think that because the perception is all there on something like this, it’s accurate, do I think the perception is a problem? I absolutely think that the perception is a problem, but the perception is a problem because of what we think the response might be from regulators, from lawmakers if they were to overreact to something like this.

Matt Brown (05:25):

Yeah. Listen, I’ve already seen the think pieces, and if you’re watching on video, I’ll go ahead and use the air quotes out there about, “You don’t have to ban all sports betting, but we should definitely get rid of college sports betting, yada, yada, yada,” in all the different states that we’ve already talked about that have these things in place about state teams and things and whatnot. And Adam, listen, as you just mentioned, one, it’s going to happen regardless. There are bad people in this world. As much as we’d like to sit and pretend like everything is all rainbows, that’s just not the case, and there are bad people who are going to do bad things.


And so whether we have legalized collegiate betting or not, this is still going to take place. There are still always going to be people who are looking for an edge, who are looking to game the system. It’s just the way that it’s always been. And as you said, if you do remove that, all you’ve done is remove another layer of trying to get this out of there, or at least trying to catch this before it gets too incredibly crazy. And so that thought process needs to go. It’s the easiest low-hanging fruit of, “Oh, see why? And this is what we can do. How easy is it? Just ban college sports betting.” But again, guys, think it through, listen about the different points that we’re trying to talk about here as to why that’s not a good idea with all of this.


And then Adam, at the end of the day, anytime in gambling, and I’ve been in it long enough, and it doesn’t matter if it’s poker, and it doesn’t matter if it’s DFS, and it doesn’t matter if it’s sports betting, whatever it is, there are always going to be people who are trying to game the system. There are always going to be people who are trying to gain an edge in some way, shape or form, doing something either shady or nefarious or outright illegal. It’s just the way, it’s just the nature of all of it, right? It is 99% great and 1% bad.


It’s just, we have to talk about the 1% stuff because we need to highlight that stuff. We need to make sure that it doesn’t work and doesn’t get through, and it doesn’t encourage more people to try that stuff in this industry that you and I both really, really like and like to follow and all that. But again, it’s just the jump to conclusions of, “Yeah, this is why we got to get rid of it, and here’s the example and blah, blah, blah.” It’s the low-hanging fruit. It’s the easy thing to do and it’s not a well-thought-out position.

Adam Candee (07:40):

And it tends to be a position of those who are part of the greater sports landscape as opposed to those who are part of the sports betting landscape. The challenge for those in the sports betting landscape is that those lines are now very blurred as to which media is which, right? I do acknowledge that as a real perception problem as we start talking about Shams being a partner with FanDuel and all of the other type of issues we’ve seen when it comes to this, the Shohei Ohtani situation and free agency. Those are things in which, yes, it becomes harder to distinguish sports media from sports betting media, especially when sports media is being paid by sportsbooks. I respect all of that. And I’m with you in general on the idea of what we’re talking about with regulated college betting.


Tell me what you think about this. The one area where I do see where the logic comes in is with what we’ve seen recently in Ohio and in Maryland with banning college prop betting because we’re talking about something that is a lot more easily manipulated and a lot more difficult to catch. And I understand that a lot of people out there will say, “Well, you could solve that with limits, right? You can’t get a lot down on a group of five rebounding prop.” Yeah, you can’t, but that is also something where the juice is not worth the squeeze in offering it in the first place and how easy it is to manipulate that sort of market. And that’s the sort of harm that wouldn’t just harm legal sports betting. You’re talking about a kid who could be pretty irreparably harmed in a situation like that too, if they make a rash or uninformed decision.

Matt Brown (09:10):

Yeah. And listen, that, to me, I think is perfect. One, the sportsbooks, honestly, if it came down to it and you give them truth serum, they wouldn’t care. The handle on that is so incredibly low. You and I, as someone who lived in Nevada as long as we did and we were sitting here, we were just always beating the table about, “Hey, we just want options. Give us more options.” Well, that has come to town now with the launch of the new MGM book and the launch of the new Caesars book and Boyd, to give them their props. And actually, Station Casinos here in town actually has a full menu and all that. We were mainly screaming about that, Adam, though, from the professional ranks, right? We were not clamoring for college props. That wasn’t what we were talking about when we were saying like, “Hey man, really wish we had a more diversified menu.”


And so if you went to all these books, it’s so, so, so low. As you mentioned, the juice just really isn’t worth the squeeze. There’s a reason why, when, and this is pro, so we’re not going to talk about … That stuff is still amateur. But there’s a reason why if you want to bet a match in a low-level tennis tournament that’s taking place in Bumscuzzelhel, Austria, or whatever, something like that, with two guys you’ve never heard of, you’re likely going to be able to get about 200 bucks down on it because they don’t know anything that’s going on. It’s too much nonsense that could happen and anything like that or whatever. And that’s pro. This is still amateur sports. And save me your, “Oh, it’s in IL, it’s not amateur.” Whatever. Save me that stuff. It’s still amateur sports. Most of these guys aren’t making a ton of money doing any of these things. So I’m with you, just why? Why do we need props? We don’t need collegiate props. We certainly don’t need collegiate props in college basketball where there’s 300 plus teams and it is just impossible to regulate.

Adam Candee (10:55):

I do have to push back on one thing, though. Bumscuzzelhel, Austria, is one of my favorite places in Europe.

Matt Brown (11:00):

To see tennis, for sure, too.

Adam Candee (11:00):

Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Matt Brown (11:01):

To go view tennis. Yeah. They’ve-

Adam Candee (11:03):

Great tournament there every single year, the Bumscuzzelhell 100. Yes.

Matt Brown (11:06):

Yes, fantastic on that. Their second court, not just the center court is beautiful, but even the second court is really good.

Adam Candee (11:11):

Oh, goodness. Yeah.

What an NFL employee spent his stolen millions buying

Matt Brown (11:13):

Yeah, it’s really good. All right. So you guys remember us. If you don’t, you can just go over to the search tool. And we were talking about a guy over with the Jaguars that got in trouble in proprietary funds that he was using for different little things like that. But Adam, we do have a little bit of an update now.

Adam Candee (11:31):

I want to make sure I read directly from this story because I think it’s worth people understanding just how deep the rabbit hole goes. OK. So, Amit Patel is the former employee of the Jaguars who embezzled $22 million. And it was widely reported that he used most of that to cover DFS losses at DraftKings and FanDuel. A new court filing, hat tip to ESPN for first reporting this, shows that Patel, “Spent an extra $5 million on a life of luxury, including a Tiger Woods putter, nearly $80,000 in private jet charters, $2.1 million in cryptocurrency, $140,000 on eBay,” and here’s the one that gets me the most, “a $2,200 game-used Trevor Lawrence game jersey.”

Matt Brown (12:29):

There we go.

Adam Candee (12:30):

Bro, you work at the facility. Just walk down to the locker room. What are you doing?

Matt Brown (12:33):

It’s better to just steal it than use the funds you stole to buy it.

Adam Candee (12:39):

Oh my God.

Matt Brown (12:40):

Come on!

Adam Candee (12:40):

Goodness gracious. So if you take this number and you take the 5 million, our calculations over at Legal Sports Report show he would have spent about 77% of that money on DFS. So make your moral calculations based on 77% versus 99%. This is one of the wilder stories of the legal sports betting era. Matt, I don’t know if you have a lot to add to this.

Matt Brown (13:05):


Adam Candee (13:05):

I just wanted to get some of those details out there for funsies for everybody.

Matt Brown (13:09):

Well, that, and it does also put context to the fact that he wasn’t just doing this to fund a horrible gambling habit, a horrible DFS habit, right? I mean, he was doing this because he was just a bad guy. He took the money and he just spent it on everything. It wasn’t like, “Oh, I’ve got to have this money because I have this crippling DFS habit.” It was like, no, there was also a whole bunch of other stuff that this was being used for because he probably thought he wasn’t going to get caught, Adam. People actually think that these days.

Adam Candee (13:38):

Yeah. I’m sure if he had embezzled $23 million, maybe the beads of sweat would have started to form on his forehead there and be like, “I don’t know, man. Maybe I’ve gone too far.”

Matt Brown (13:48):

“I’ve got to cut it off sometime.” Yeah. But you can read all the full stuff over there on Legal Sports Report with all the words and everything like that. Adam, one of the things that we teased earlier on in the show, and I know, just give me the hat tip, I know you did the little play on words, but we do have yet another company that does not look like they’re going to make it to the end of 2024.

ThriveFantasy looking ready to close up shop

Adam Candee (14:13):

What Matthew is referring to is our rundown for the show in which I said, “Thrive ain’t going to survive.” Yeah, the dad jokes always in big supply over here at the Candee house. Let’s talk about what happened here with Thrive recently. Our Sam McQuillan got a tip that apparently Thrive, after it had its fairly notable troubles with being able to pay out customers over the last few months, claimed that there had been fraud that had caused them to not be able to make those payouts. They then were able to do partial payouts for some people. Well, the two sources indicated to Sam that Thrive had gone and tried to do another funding round to be able to raise more money, hopefully be able to pay out its customers and to be able to survive for the long term. And those sources both indicate that the funding round essentially failed to deliver as much as Thrive needed in both sources, said they expect Thrive to no longer exist in the long run.


Now, will it mean that they shutter? Will it mean they end up like No House Advantage, where Betr ultimately buys out the accounts and decides to do something with them? That, of course, is all remaining to be seen. Their CEO did not respond to comment from Sam’s request, so we don’t know any more about that. He was the one who came out immediately after our story posted. He wasn’t returning comment when we were asking, then, after our first story posted saying people weren’t being paid, came out on social media and talked about how there was this fraud issue and that they were working on it and et cetera, et cetera, and then, of course, went dark on us again when we came back and said, “Hey, we heard the funding didn’t come through.” So if you’re a ThriveFantasy customer, I would definitely suggest trying to get your hands on what you can while you can, because the future of the company, according to our reporting, appears to be in some jeopardy.

Matt Brown (16:06):

It’s another one of those things, Adam, where we go in, and this is circling back to the top of all of this, but this is why regulation and legalization is so incredibly important because you go in and you have to vet these companies. A lot of these licensing fees, Adam, as you know, but if people are listening that aren’t completely in the circle, a lot of that is more just financial, more financial vetting than anything else than it is actual money for the state or whatever. It’s like, “Hey, do you have enough money? Are you able to buy into our state? Are you able to show us that you have the funds to operate a business such as this within our state?”


And so you have these states, again, that haven’t passed any laws whatsoever when it comes to not only sports betting but also fantasy sports, and you let some of these companies exist and you let some of these companies run wild. And they do it until they can’t do it anymore. And then, like you said, if nobody comes in to bail them out and all that, then they’re going to walk away with however much money. And what’s the recourse for someone in State X that has absolutely no laws on the books? It’s nothing. You just go, “Well, that sucks.”

Adam Candee (17:27):

Yeah. And I know you know the history of these sorts of things very well from over the course of many years, but the long and short of it is we’re going to continue to report on these for as long as it’s going on because we continue to see the stories of customers who are having trouble getting their money. And very honestly, we continue to encourage people to contact us when they see that because I’m not going to claim that we are in the service journalism industry at all times here at Legal Sports Report, but for issues like this, we absolutely believe that it’s vital that we’re shining a light on those operators who are not doing business the right way.

Matt Brown (18:02):

Yeah, absolutely. And we’ll continue to try and help you guys out there as much as humanly possible. We said North Carolina launched. I know you know that already.

Adam Candee (18:12):

What? What?

Matt Brown (18:12):

Yeah, I know you know that already. If you have the internet-

Adam Candee (18:13):

Oh, we got to get a story up about that.

Why Eric Ramsey thinks North Carolina is definitely a top-10 market

Matt Brown (18:15):

Listen, if you have the internet and do anything in the sports landscape whatsoever, you are very well aware of this. But it has launched, it is going, and what does our own Eric Ramsey have to say about it?

Adam Candee (18:26):

Yeah. Interesting piece up from Eric that we just posted today at Legal Sports Report talking about how he believes that a lot of the forecasts out there for how much revenue North Carolina online betting will generate are too conservative. I want you to understand that in many years of working with Eric, including the last few in which he’s been doing revenue analysis for us, his forecasts are almost universally, I don’t want to say bearish, but conservative, for sure. He’s not one who puts himself out over the top of his skis. He put a big-

Matt Brown (18:58):

He’s not a sunshine pumper, as you say. Yes, as we say, he’s not a sunshine pumper. He’s not just always like, “Ah, everything’s going to be great. Ah, sunshine.”

Adam Candee (19:06):

No, no, no, no, no. I would never accuse our Eric Ramsey of being Mr. Sunshine. That is just not his ethos. But I would say that this time he’s out there saying he believes that this is going to be even bigger than the initial revenue forecast. And he points to what the state initially forecasted for year one, which is in the range of $4 billion of handle. He thinks based on the early returns that we’re seeing, it’s going to be closer to $6 billion.


And in this article, he makes a case for all of the factors that North Carolina has going for it: its passionate fan base for college sports, especially for basketball, its destination status for golf in particular, and the type of clientele that draws to the state over the course of time. NASCAR’s home proximity to help boost a niche sport that doesn’t do as much business in other places but might be able to do better in North Carolina. And with all of that factored in, he says that even $7 billion might be in the realm for the first 12 months. And when we say for the first 12 months, we mean from launch date on March 11th to March 10th of 2025. So I encourage everybody to go to Legal Sports Report and check out Eric’s article. He lays out a nuanced case for why he thinks North Carolina could be a top 10 market in the US pretty quickly.

Matt Brown (20:22):

They’re getting excited about Diontae Johnson in town too. Oh, yeah.

Adam Candee (20:25):

Oh, yeah. I mean, listen, anytime you have a professional football team that commits $100 million dollars to two guards, you got to get excited.

Matt Brown (20:33):

Listen, they’re just not-

Adam Candee (20:34):

And they’re protecting one of the … what’s the word I should use? … shortest quarterbacks in the NFL.

Matt Brown (20:41):

Is that what it is? Listen, you got Diontae Johnson coming to town, so there’s at least that.

Adam Candee (20:46):


Matt Brown (20:47):

Yes. All right, Adam, take us home. Where are we? Just a couple other state updates.

Adam Candee (20:50):

Yeah, just a little update here and there from the states. I’ll start in Minnesota where it’s slow and steady progress in Minnesota. And our Pat Evans has been following this for years now. The report he had out of yesterday’s hearing was that there were hints of bipartisan agreement on where this bill could be heading. So that is the good news because there has been this general disagreement in which the Democrat-Farmer-Labor Party, which is generally in line with the interests of the gaming tribes, which have exclusivity in the state, has wanted the tribes to have those licenses exclusively.


The Republican side has been wanting the horse racing tracks to also get sports betting licenses. They tried last year to do a setup in which the tracks would get a cut from the revenue, and the tracks said, “No, we want licenses.” Well, the amendments that were made in the Senate committee this time look like a step toward potential compromise because last year that revenue cut was capped at $3 million. This year they’ve put it back in with no cap. So if the market does very well, it could go well above $3 million in terms of the cut for the tracks. And when you look at what they did to the tax rate, doubling it from 10% to 20%, then you say, “OK. Well, we could be generating a lot more tax revenue,” and therefore the cut to everyone involved here would be a lot greater.


That being said, we have to talk about the negative part, which was them putting in a ban on in-game betting that continues to confound most of the people in the industry. It was put in under the auspices of responsible gambling. And I would challenge anyone out there to find someone who believes that in-game betting by itself is a driver of problem gambling in situations in which problem gambling was not already prevalent. So it would be the first ban of that sort in the country if it were to pass. That continues to be one of those things that will have to be negotiated down the line, but they do have another month to get that bill out of committee. So nothing immediate going on in Minnesota that will require our attention.


In Georgia, look, it looks like it’s dead, but this happens every time in Georgia. All of a sudden we get a little undertaker.gif and the hand shoots up out of the casket and they’re like, “Wait. Not yet.” Yes. So there is a hearing coming on Monday in Georgia in which the prospects for legalized sports betting will raise from 0% back to name your own single digit for it happening this year in Georgia. For the third consecutive year, it appears that outside political interests, as in bigger issues that legislators have to deal with in a day-to-day fashion, are going to get in the way of legalized sports betting passing. So we’ll keep an eye on what’s happening there.


We’ll also keep an eye on what’s happening in Colorado when it comes to PrizePicks, Underdog, and other fantasy sports companies because this was one of the more interesting states when it came to the pick’em games because the Colorado regulator decided to work with Underdog, and that applied then to others, in which it said, “OK, you can’t do two or more based on regular stats. You can do four or more based on fantasy points.” Well, that was under the previous head of the department, Dan Hartman. Dan Hartman has since retired. It is a new regulator. And now there, it looks like that the ban is going to extend, or at least it has been initially extended, to cover player versus house.


This is a separate discussion when it comes to the fantasy sports issue where, are we talking about it being peer-to-peer? Are we talking about it being player versus house? That is a separate discussion from the, is this a prop bet based on the two or more, et cetera, et cetera? That will go to a legislative committee sometime soon for discussion in Colorado where player versus house might ultimately be banned. And that would raise another whole set of issues for the pick’em operators when it comes to what their future looks like in a state where it appeared that there might be some willingness to compromise on them being able to offer those controversial games.

Matt Brown (25:04):

One other thing that did happen also today here, Adam, just for our friends in Chicago, you can head to the friendly confines and make a bet, retail, over at Wrigley Field as well. We’ve, of course, been talking about Illinois sports betting for quite some time and how they’ve changed multiple different times along the way. The only reason I do bring that up is because it does … One, it’s the first major retail location in Chicago, which I think is at least somewhat interesting because, I mean, you’ve been there, I’ve been there, there’s a lot of people around Wrigley Field. And so you might want to go and hang out and place a bet and things like that. And then also, isn’t there a deal where you can only bet on in-state schools over the counter or something like that? So with March Madness coming up, that could also make Wrigley Field a pretty hot spot.

Adam Candee (25:53):

Yeah. There is a number of considerations that we have to take in there, and I will correct one little thing in there that you said. You’ve been there. I have not. But my first trip ever is coming next month.

Matt Brown (26:06):

Nice, nice.

Adam Candee (26:07):

I am going to make my initial Wrigley Field trip and check that one off the stadium list for me. So who knows? Maybe a few old styles in. I’ll be standing there at the DraftKings Sportsbook seeing if I can get $100,000 down on a college baseball side.

Matt Brown (26:22):

Yeah, it’s quite interesting-

Adam Candee (26:24):

I heard that’s what you do with a stadium sportsbook.

Matt Brown (26:25):

Yes, yeah. It’s just in time, though, for March Madness. Again, as we talk about some of these dates, and these launch dates, Adam, we know are not by happenstance.

Adam Candee (26:35):


Matt Brown (26:35):

They certainly get going there. There was a lot of people, when Loyola made the big run in the Final Four and no one could bet on them in Illinois, there was a lot of stink that was going on around there. So at least now you can make the trek to Wrigley Field if you want to, if you want to go that route.

Adam Candee (26:53):

Yay. And I’ll be sure to pass it on to everybody in New Jersey still mad about Saint Peter’s too, where you can’t bet on the in-state there either. So continuing to bring up the question of in-state bans. Good God, y’all, who are they good for?

Matt Brown (27:06):

Hey, hey, Adam, here’s the thing. They want to look at you in the face across the counter and be like, “Is you doing anything bad with this bet? No. All right. Go ahead. Take your money. I’ll take your money.”

Adam Candee (27:16):

“Is your name Bert Neff? Do you know the Alabama baseball coach? Are you about to say to me, ‘If only you guys knew what I knew’?” I love that story so much.

Matt Brown (27:25):

Yeah, it is such a great story. Guys, again, everything we talk about you can find over on legalsportsreport.com. So go in, take in all of the great stuff that Adam and team are doing over there. Again, everything we do, absolutely free. So do appreciate your support by hitting that subscribe button. Again, on the audio side, if you want to rate and review, appreciate that as well. For Adam, I’m Matt. Talk to you guys next week.

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