EPISODE 229 | LSR Podcast

NBA League Pass Betting Uproar And Other Loud Noises | Sports Betting News


32 min
Video preview

NBA League Pass Betting Uproar And Other Loud Noises | Sports Betting News | LSR Podcast 229

The NBA will allow customers who purchase its League Pass streaming product to opt in for added betting-related content, and the crew wants to know why some people think it means the sky is falling. Also, how to make good responsible gambling tools even better and the latest on a federal bill to regulate sports betting.

Full transcript

Matt Brown (00:08):

Hello and welcome to episode number 229 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, Adam Candee. You can find him on the Twitter machine @AdamCandee. Two E’s, no Y. If you hate yourself, you can follow me @MattBrownM2. Everything we do, absolutely free. So go ahead, hit that subscribe button, and if you want to leave some kind words, it’s your podcast player of choice, appreciate those rates and reviews as well. We will talk some, DraftKings launched a new little responsible gaming thing. And listen, we’re going to credit where credit’s due here on the podcast sometimes, also did some position shuffling over there. I’ll talk about that for a second. A new bill that is going to be launched by Paul Tonko out of New York, we will get to that as well. But Adam will kick things off here with some big news about NBA League Pass.

Adam Candee (01:03):

I’ll tell you, Matt, this has been the talker of sports betting Twitter and probably the wider betting and sports Twitters individually for the last day or so. So we hear now from Sportradar and emBET is that those who subscribe to NBA League Pass, and if you’re not familiar with League Pass, it is the service by which you can see all NBA games that are not blacked out in your local market. And what they’ve added is the ability, and let’s focus big time on that word ability. It is an opt-in to have betting information and to be spun out if you so choose to place a bet on a game within the League Pass feed. Be facilitated through DraftKings and FanDuel. It is not direct betting at the moment. It is still information that can be added. This was getting a lot of attention out there on social media as, oh man, this is just, I can’t believe that the NBA is doing this and everything is being gamified and everything is getting more betting forward.


And I guess I was a little bit taken back by all of that because hasn’t what we’ve known about the ambitions for everyone been a single screen experience for a very long time? This is not new in so much as the fact that we’ve known that this is the goal. I think where people might have a little bit of a case is the idea that we always talked about having streams inside of a betting app, right? A betting app by which you have KYC, know your customer where you know that that person is of age, that they are a legally allowed customer, and then you’re adding the stream to that as opposed to having the stream and then you don’t know necessarily who’s watching it and who is getting that information.

NBA League Pass uproar


Now, if you think that younger people are not seeing betting information, well they’ve probably been seeing betting information for a long time. It is a little bit more prevalent if you do it inside the League Pass structure. So a big conversation going on around this right now, Matt, and as someone who has a regular interest in the NBA, I’m curious what your thoughts are.

Matt Brown (03:19):

Yeah, I mean it’s one of those deals, Adam, where I’m looking at this and it is an opt-in. And look, I think we get to the point where we’re going to get outraged by it seems like everything moving forward in the gaming industry until it becomes at least a little bit more normalized because it seems like every new innovation, we’re taking advantage of people or oh my God, we’re shoving it down people’s throat and we’re doing all these different things like that. But at the end of the day, I think it also just comes down to the fact that this is still fairly new to most people and is still something that is at least somewhat of interest because it’s right out in front of you when it comes to the betting leagues themselves, the sports leagues themselves, I should say.


I don’t know. I mean, maybe I’m desensitized to all of this and I very well might be. And so my opinion could be very, very skewed from this, but I’ve been in this so long and I’ve been around all of this so long, I just don’t really get the uproar about everything. The only thing that I really did understand a ton of, and this was something that I think you probably felt even more than me because you were kind of entering the space at the time during the DFS wars that were going on with all of the ads, and it seemed like you couldn’t do anything without there being a DFS ad kind of shoved in your face. And I actually did feel that a little bit, and I did kind of understand what was going on with all of that.


But we’re talking about a product that is kind of an opt-in thing, which by the way is layered on top of a thing with a barrier to entry as it is anyway, right? League Pass just doesn’t come with your cable service. You have to pay to get League Pass. You are an avid NBA fan if you have bought NBA League Pass. And so it’s like a barrier to a barrier to get to this anyway. And so I don’t know, I saw it too. I just don’t get the uproar. I don’t really understand why everybody’s all crazy about this.

Adam Candee (05:21):

I understand exactly what you’re talking about with the idea of a barrier to a barrier, and I think the barrier in some cases has already been lowered and not received the same amount of scrutiny that this is. I’ll give you an example. I was watching a hockey game last night and on the intermission there’s an integration that I realized has been there all year long in which the host on the intermission talks about, Hey, here was the first period over under before the game, and they tell you, OK, it hit or it didn’t hit based on the over or the under hit and here’s how much money you would’ve won. Here’s what the total is for the whole game, and they do it every game. And that is just your average over the air broadcast that can be picked up anywhere that I think has a lower barrier to entry.


So part of me wonders if the message here was screwed up by the NBA in terms of how this was introduced. I think they probably could have gone about this in a way that said, listen, we understand that it’s a changing environment and that we have different consumers who have different needs and different desires. This is something that we’re offering to fill a need that we see for one specific type of consumer for the NBA.

Matt Brown (06:38):

To our most adamant fans, right? Exactly. Yeah. It’s like the, hey, here’s just one additional perk that we’re giving to our most adamant fans, et cetera, et cetera. Because it’s not like Sunday Ticket, right Adam? I mean, you’re a huge sports fan and you know, like you don’t even have to be a big time football fan to buy Sunday Ticket, but if we were to poll people as far as like NBA League Pass, you’re either in the industry or you are a big-time NBA fan, like NBA League Pass must have 1/100 of the subscribers that Sunday Ticket has. You know what I mean? It’s just, so for this to be tacked on to that, like you’re already targeting a tiny little micro fraction of the fan base as it is anyway, and it’s the super engaged fan who probably appreciate something like this.

Adam Candee (07:32):

Yeah. And you want to take that example and we’ll use our little microcosm in here. I obviously have Red Zone and have access to Sunday Ticket anywhere that I would need it. I have MLB Extra Innings because I am a huge baseball fan.

Matt Brown (07:47):


Adam Candee (07:47):

And I have the NHL package through my ESPN+ subscription. You know what the one service I don’t have is? I don’t have League Pass. And for me that’s because I can access NBA games through my package with YouTube TV at least five days a week. NBA TV has a Monday broadcast, TNT has its Tuesdays and Thursdays, ESPN has Wednesdays, Fridays, and then they have weekends as well on ABC. I have plenty of that product available to me for my needs, and I think a lot of people have that available to them for their needs. And so to me, I think this was probably more of a messaging failure by the NBA than it is a failure of the product coming and being more integrated into something that you already mentioned is something that is a product that is largely for big time fans in the first place.

Matt Brown (08:38):

And kind of last, and I don’t know if it’s least, maybe it is last and least here, not the last but not least thing, but the last least thing is we’re trying to get to where, and I know this seems counterintuitive what we’re saying when we talk about responsible gaming stuff and all that, but at the same time, Adam, I mean I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with trying to make things more convenient either. I don’t think a convenience factor automatically means that it’s bad. Right. I mean, you and I in Nevada for as long as we can and we’re on these clunky apps and can’t even make a bet over the internet. Right. I mean, that’s the other thing I don’t know if people will even realize about Nevada. Right. You guys can go to sportsbook.draftkings.com or sportsbook.fanduel.com, you can make a bet online, which is much easier when you’re looking at a nice big screen and can scroll through the menus and all that.


That’s not even available in Nevada. And so I don’t necessarily think that all things that are convenient are bad either. Right. And it does seem like we’ve gotten to that where it’s like, oh, you make it easier. You make it easier. It’s like, yeah, but at some point people will have to make their own decisions and we do have to make sure that we’re not presenting stuff in the wrong way and there’s not predatory practices and all this. This is opt-in service and all that. Sometimes convenience is not a bad thing, but it seems like every time we do something that’s new or convenient, we’re going like, see what we’re doing. Look at this. What’s the next step? You’re going to be able to just make bets with your eyes, like all this stuff. And it’s like, nah, man. Sometimes it’s just, that’s just evolution.

Adam Candee (10:09):

Yeah. And again, to those with responsible gambling concerns, please understand that you are heard here because what I said at the beginning still holds to the idea of I understand that if your concern is that the stream was going into the betting app and now the betting is coming into the stream, I hear you on that. And that becomes incumbent upon the NBA. It becomes incumbent upon Sportradar providing the numbers.


It becomes incumbent upon … the sportsbooks to make sure that if someone is clicking out and going over to place that bet, that they are still under the same level of scrutiny that they would be if they took their phone, went to the app store, downloaded the app, and decided to play on that app. And I say that all in that long form, not to be pedantic. I think we all know that that will still be the case, but it’s to say that while I don’t believe the responsible gambling part was messaged the way that it should, I am not of the opinion that putting this in League Pass, not on the NBA broadcast, on ABC, on Sundays as an opt-in in League Pass is a major step in the wrong direction.

How to make good responsible gambling tools even better

Matt Brown (11:24):

Yeah, I’m with you there on that one. Adam, this was something we just didn’t have time to get to last week, but hey, let’s go ahead. Like we say, responsible gaming, let’s toot the horn, right, when people are trying to take steps in the right direction. We got a thing from DraftKings last week that they introduced a deal called My Stat Sheet into not only their sports betting product but also in their casino product as well, which is a gaming tool that gives players the ability to assess, track and interact with their personal stats through charts and information that will empower players to make data drive decisions on their own play.


And so basically you can go in and you can look and if it were, you and I have been doing this in a spreadsheet for a decade because there’s SportsCenters, but you’ll be able to now to go into the app and it’ll show you like, hey man, you’re like break even on the NFL, but you’re a horrible NBA, but you’ll be able to actually see the charts as to where things are going on. And will that resonate with some of the bettors out there? I hope so, and certainly at least the information being available is a good thing when we look at just stuff as a whole here with all of that. And again we’re talking about convenience and ease. This is something I’ve had to do manually for decades, is tracking bets and trying to like, oh, how do I bet comparatively for NFL to baseball, to basketball to whatever. And you can even do it on casino from their Golden Nugget product as well if you want to go that route.


So again, this is one of the ease and convenience and things like that that we should applaud. And I hope people do take advantage of this within those products because there are leaks as you and I both know when it comes to gambling. You might think you’re a great tennis bettor and then you’re going to look and then you’re going to see like, oh, actually I’m not a great tennis bettor. I should probably focus my efforts elsewhere, or at least put fewer dollars into that as well. So good on them and hopefully people take advantage of it.

Adam Candee (13:22):

I’ll tell you what Matt, I think there could be a next step to this that would be really, really helpful. And it’s not just for DraftKings, for anybody who wants to do this type of information. Just as we talked about the opt-in with the betting information in League Pass, I think it would be a really wise idea from a responsible gambling perspective if we made it an opt-out that you got say a monthly email summary of exactly that information. If the information is available to go find within an app, then the information is available to email to the customer and say, hey, here’s your monthly update about how you did,-

Matt Brown (13:57):

Just so you know.

Adam Candee (13:58):

Last month. Right, exactly. And it doesn’t have to be and if it’s a losing bettor, it’s not like we’re saying put it in giant red numbers and show them how terrible they are. No, just give them the information the same way you would give them inside the app. But I think there is a way to be more proactive with this information for the sake of bettors that would serve responsible gambling interests very well, that would make it clear to everyone that, listen, you might think that you do this well, but as Matt just mentioned, I have not been involved in the industry as long as Matt has, but let me tell you, when you first get that spreadsheet and do it yourself and you start seeing the reality of what you’ve done, it hits you pretty fast. Right. It hits you pretty fast to say, I either need to accept the fact that I’m doing this as entertainment and the losses are going to be what they are, or I need to get better at it because I’m not as good as I thought I was.

Matt Brown (14:56):

Yeah. And it goes back to I like the responsible gaming aspect of all this, and honestly I just like it from a betting aspect because for me it’s like stuff that takes hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hour, days probably if you added all the hours together of stuff that I have to do every year to do all of this. And if it was actually just provided to me, that would be awesome. That would be great, especially if you could make it to where you could just upload it into your own spreadsheet and all the things like that. Feel free to steal that idea by the way. Any sports books out there if you wanted to provide that, we could just upload the CSV into our own, stuff like that. But yeah, it’s good on that. Another little deal you can find over at LSR, just real quick, Adam, there was a shuffle over at DraftKings as well with some promotions and a new position that was actually created over there.

Adam Candee (15:47):

Yeah, I think the really interesting part of this, and I’ll direct you to the story on LSR to read all of the details, but Jason Park, who has been the chief financial officer for DraftKings for the last few years, moves into a role where he’s going to be dealing more with transformation and innovation, and I think the notable part in what Jason Robins talked about is that he’s going to oversee the integration of Jackpocket, the new lottery service that DraftKings purchased, and this goes again to what has been a search throughout the industry and particularly for DraftKings to try to find ways to acquire customers at lower cost and ways to cross-sell customers in different verticals. And as there are less and less new state launches coming around, all of the major operators are looking for ways to bring in customers into versions of legal gambling, right?


Whether it’s online gaming, iCasino, which we’ve seen already this year in particular. It’s going to be a slower adoption for iCasino when you’re looking at only really six hashtag seven states available. And when I say hashtag, I mean asterisk because man, it has been a week, I got to tell you buddy, it has been a week, but it is that many states that have iGaming. So you’re looking at the lottery product as saying, OK, maybe that is a way to bring people in at a lower cost. Maybe they are then sold into different verticals and brought into different forms of gambling.


Jason Park, of course, oversaw DraftKings move into being a publicly traded company. And so interesting from the perspective of saying that we’ve talked a lot about what is 1.0 and what is 2.0 for these US operators, right? I believe it is a step toward 2.0 when we start talking about, OK, you’re taking one of your key executives who was in one of the most crucial roles in all of the company, and you are now moving him into something that is clearly intended to be about the future of the company and where you go next.

Latest on a federal bill to regulate sports betting advertising

Matt Brown (17:56):

Paul Tonko, Democrat out of New York said yesterday, Adam, that he intends to introduce legislation that would put some limits on the advertising practices and other different things that are going on in the sports betting industry, which he says a Wild West, largely unregulated environment Adam, is what Tonko has decided to go with on this. And we are dealing with a massive and growing public health crisis that he says and his SAFE Bet Act that he says he is going to introduce would ban sportsbook advertising during live sporting events, ban language from sportsbook advertisements promoting bonus or no sweat best, prohibit sportsbooks from accepting credit cards, require sportsbooks to accept no more than five deposits from a single customer within a 24-hour period, prohibit gaming operators from using artificial intelligence to track a player’s gambling habits or to use AI to create customer specific prop bets as well. So listen, this is not the first time that Tonko has come after the gambling industry, probably won’t be the last time, but apparently is going to at least introduce his SAFE Bet Act at some point.

Adam Candee (19:20):

Right. He first dropped a bill last year that was intended to address many of these same concerns, and we’ve spoken to Representative Tonko a couple of times and what he’s been clear about is to say, listen, I don’t expect everything within this legislation to become law. I’m trying to start a conversation that needs to be started and try to bring everyone to the table to have a discussion about how we do this better. And look, I agree with him in the idea that it can be done better than it’s being done right now. I do push back on the idea of it being the Wild West because we do have a number of state level regulations that are in place at the moment. To say that there is no regulation is probably an overstatement, but I do think it’s reasonable that there is a discussion to be had among all stakeholders about how do we do this in a sustainable way for the long haul moving forward.


Because as you mentioned Matt, earlier when we talked about the League Pass situation, there is a certain segment that will always wring its hands and gnash its teeth when any sort of progress or step forward in the gambling space comes around. There is a fundamental lack of understanding of the amount of regulation that is done on not only sports betting companies but on casinos throughout the company. Is one of the most heavily regulated industries, United States at the state level. It is not done at the federal level, it is done at the level of regulators in state, and that of course causes a lot of frustration, I know among many stakeholders having to operate under a patchwork of different rules, but it also underscores how hard it really is from the federal level to put a one-size-fits-all approach onto the industry because it does operate in so many different forms in different places.


Sports betting in Nevada looks nothing like sports betting in New York, looks nothing like sports betting in Illinois, and so it requires different sets of rules and different sets of regulation to deal with the different needs that the different states have because what did we start out with when PASPA was repealed? We started out with this being the Supreme Court saying that this was something where the federal government had taken away the right of states to regulate this for themselves, and it kicked it back to the state level to say, you decide what is the best way to do this for yourself.


And so each state now has that ability, and the more we do at the federal level that takes away from that, I believe takes away from the intent that was there in the first place in repealing PASPA. That being said, a representative in Congress beginning this conversation and continuing to push this conversation, I don’t necessarily think is a bad thing in the long term. I just think that when we look at the bill as it’s written right now, there’s certainly more cure in there than there would be prevention.

Matt Brown (22:13):

Yeah. I look at some of the stuff that he said and highlighted some of the stuff that he said he’s going to put in this Adam, and look, I think that there are conversations to be had around all of the stuff, but I think all of the stuff is basically just painting with a very broad brush where there’s really, like what are we intending to prevent here or what is the desired result in all of this? I mean, for example, require sportsbook to accept no more than five deposits from a single customer within a 24-hour period. Well, Adam, as you and I both know, five $10 deposits is completely different than five, $500 deposits or whatever or anything like that.


So it’s like a broad stroke thing that is kind of going on, which again, I understand these are more just conversation starters and keep things going, but it’s just some of this stuff, like people are going to read it and they’re going to roll their eyes because it’s just, when you say things like, no more than five whatever, don’t allow, the words bonus and no sweat. OK, well, I mean then we’re just going to come up with new different ways to promote ways that those sportsbooks are going to allow you to try the… I mean, again, it’s fine. I like the fact that we’re keeping the conversation going. I hate the fact that we’re going to pull out bullet points. It’s like these are the things we’re going to go after and these are things we’re going to go do when it’s just painting such this broad brush across something that’s much more nuanced than that.

Adam Candee (23:35):

I agree. It’s just that there’s no other way to do it, right?

Matt Brown (23:37):


Adam Candee (23:38):

From his perspective, there’s no other way to start that conversation. If you don’t put something on paper and drop it and then let everybody, look, let people call you all the names they want to call you to say you don’t know what you’re doing, five deposit. OK, well then he begins the conversation to say, tell me what the right way is to deal with compulsive behavior in terms of funding an online gambling account, and that is a reasonable discussion to be had. Legislating five versus six versus $5 bets versus $500 bets. No, that’s not a reasonable way to do it at all.

Matt Brown (24:14):

And I guess I look at the different stuff like, OK, for example, the ban sportsbook advertising during live sporting events. Like what kind of ridiculously slippery slope are we going at then at that point, right? Because now we’re saying you’re not supposed to be able to advertise to your most likely and prime customer because then at that point, I mean, OK, so drug companies shouldn’t be able to advertise during The Golden Girls because that’s predatory, but do you get what I’m saying? I mean, seriously though, that’s like the most slippery slope ever because you’re basically saying like, well, no, because these are people who are likely to like your product. Well, if that’s the case, then OK, then beer can’t advertise during live sporting events. Like I said, drug companies can’t do it on the Lifetime channel or the Hallmark Channel or whatever. It’s just all of these different things like that I just, I don’t know, I can’t get down with. I’m all for responsible gaming and doing it correctly and making sure that we are doing as much as humanly possible, but I also need it to make sense.

Adam Candee (25:09):

Well, the question then becomes, OK, so if you ban it during live sporting events on television, what else are you going to do, right? Where does the ban stop? Is it going to also be as previous iterations that he’s discussed have? Will it be through any FCC regulated channels? Will there be no internet advertising allowed? Will there be no email advertising allowed? There are many different ways that this could end up going. The one thing that I do think is fair to say though, as we discuss different forms of advertising on different channels and who we’re targeting is that I want to thank you for being a friend, Matt.

Matt Brown (25:50):

Big ask. I know. I know.

Adam Candee (25:51):

Travel down the road and back again.

Matt Brown (25:54):

Your heart is true. You are a pal. All right, so take us home here with a couple of state notes.

Adam Candee (26:01):

Let’s talk about Georgia for a second as we’re winding down the session. In Georgia, March 28th is the deadline there. Hearing canceled today in the committee where sports betting bills were going to be considered. There’ve been some tweaks discussed here in the last few days. Remember that this is a bill that passed its first chamber almost two months ago and is basically stalled out. It is once again caught up in some other wrangling between the Democrats and the Republicans. It’s not impossible. I told you last week, it’s not impossible that it gets out, but time is running very, very short to get this done this year.


I think there are a lot of stakeholders in Georgia who feel like what they would like to see is something that it can at least be carried forward to next year because one source dealing with this said that the way this has been addressed this particular year, and the discussion of would it be put to the ballot, and the lack of appetite among some of the sports betting operators to go to the ballot in Georgia when they’re already going to the ballot most likely in Missouri and the amount of financial outlay that would take. The overall landscape, one source told our Pat Evans, would set this whole thing back five years the way it’s being dealt with right now. Could that be hyperbole? Absolutely, it could because we’ve considered it year after year.


But in Georgia it is really a matter at this point of will the political will ever be there for sports betting to become a big enough issue to not get caught up in the wash with some of the other issues that it has been caught up in, voting rights, transgender rights, Medicaid, much larger weightier, meteor issues to be dealt with by the legislature then do you have online sports betting allowed? So we’re keeping an eye on what’s going on in Georgia. The committee wrangling in Minnesota continues. There’s more hope there than I think there was a couple of weeks ago for Minnesota to get something done. They still have time. Their session only began roughly a month ago, so lots of time to still get something done in Minnesota.


In Missouri, as I referenced here a moment ago, it is starting to look like that ballot initiative is doing very well with its signature gathering. They told us when they hit the 100,000 mark. They came out with another press release just this week talking about the progress that they’re making in Missouri in terms of qualifying sports betting for the ballot. We know that Senator Denny Hoskins has been standing in the way of it and we know that there was also just a new poll that came out in Missouri showing that more than half of Missourians are in favor of legal sports betting. So it feels as though the momentum is building toward November for Missouri as it is stalled out year after year in the legislature.

Matt Brown (28:47):

I do want to promote one thing over at LSR, Eric Ramsey put together as we head into March Madness season. By the way, sorry if you tuned into the first four games on Tuesday night because gross, but did you see that UVA performance? My goodness. Anyway, he has put together a nice little handy dandy all in one spot summary of what you can and can’t do in your state, and some of these states actually do have very unique and interesting rules involving collegiate sports and in-state teams and things like that. I’ll just use Connecticut as an example where you can’t bet on in-state teams game to game, but you can bet on them as a whole. So you can bet on UConn to win the whole thing. You just can’t bet on UConn on a game to game basis. Anyway, there’s just all kinds of different little nuanced things, Adam, that go on from a collegiate standpoint, and so a really tiny little article over there on LSR by Eric to let you know what you can and can’t do in your state as we head into the madness here on Thursday through Sunday.

Adam Candee (29:52):

Yeah, just to add some detail to that, what we did was instead of saying, OK, here it is in all 50 states because not a lot of concern about Hawaii, that sort of thing, we went and looked at every state that either had a collegiate team from that state playing or is a state that is going to be hosting some level of the tournament from the first four all the way to the final four. And Eric detailed in painstaking fashion, I might add, this was a labor of love for Eric to work on, what is allowed in each state. You’ll find that a number of states do restrict betting on in-state teams.


We talked about it with St. Peter’s when it made its run a couple of years ago, and then they gave voters in New Jersey the opportunity to say, hey, if you didn’t like that, you can approve betting on in-state teams. And they said, forget about it. Yeah, the whole setup was really just to do that.

Matt Brown (30:42):

It’s good. It’s good.

Adam Candee (30:42):

And then teams in Illinois, we know that a lot of that betting has to be done in person and so different restrictions for different states. Check it out at LSR.

Matt Brown (30:53):

Yeah, it’s a really, really, really good article put together up there. If you want to follow me on the Twitter machine, I’m going to be putting that out as well for everyone to take a look at. Of course, everything we talk about here you can find over at legalsportsreport.com, so please go in, read all of the great stuff Adam and team are getting done over there. If you want to follow Adam @AdamCandee, two E’s, no Y. Me I’m at @MattBrownM2. And like we said, everything we do absolutely free, so you might as well go ahead and hit that subscribe button. You might as well go ahead and leave a nice little review and help us climb up those charts because we do appreciate that as well. For Adam, I’m Matt. Talk to you guys next week.

More Episodes