Rece Davis Sports Betting Comment On ESPN Draws State Regulator Rebuke

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One state regulator is calling ESPN anchor Rece Davis’s description of a sports betting pick as a “risk-free investment” during a segment Sunday an “objectionable statement.”

Davis later gave a seemingly contrite clarification for the irresponsible sports betting joke via Twitter before clarifying Monday that it was not an apology

A spokesperson from the Ohio Casino Control Commission told LSR that the state regulator has no plans to sanction PENN Entertainment or ESPN Bet at this time. 

Regulator on sports betting crack

However, the spokesperson made clear the comment was not appreciated by what has been one of the most stringent state-level sports betting regulators in the country.

“The objectionable statement by Mr. Davis is hopefully a learning opportunity that will encourage him to be more sensitive in the future,” the spokesperson said. “The Commission continues to be vigilant regarding sports gaming advertisements and promotions, and will take administrative action when needed to ensure compliance.” 

What Davis said on ESPN broadcast

During Sunday’s segment, ESPN prognosticator Erin Dolan explained why bettors should take Northwestern University to score under 60.5 points against the University of Connecticut in March Madness betting

“Some would call this wagering, gambling,” Davis said. “I think the way you sold this … I think what it is is risk-free investment.” 

Davis’s remark was met with heavy criticism on social media.  

Davis: ‘I didn’t apologize. I clarified.’

After his social media post, Davis went on The Pat McAfee Show on Monday to clarify that he was not apologizing.

“I don’t want to make this a big deal. It was just a small segment, it was a throwaway line. Any reasonable person knew I was being facetious, because there’s nothing in life that comes without risk, especially gambling. That’s obvious for anyone who knows anything,” Davis said.

“But I didn’t apologize. I clarified. And I don’t think that anybody thought we were really handing out free money. But maybe it’s a better course of action, in the future, I’ll go with the old David Letterman line of ‘This is an exhibition, not a competition, so please, no wagering.’ Maybe that’s the way we’ll go from now on.”

Strict sports betting rules in Ohio

A spokesperson for ESPN Bet said the company had nothing further to add to the social media clarification right now. ESPN Bet sent a responsible gaming email to its customers on Monday morning.

The OCCC issued more than $1.3 million in fines to licensed sports betting operators last year. 

Massachusetts Gaming Commission commissioner Eileen O’Brien expressed earlier this month her concern about the seamless experience between ESPN and ESPN Bet.