EPISODE 235 | LSR Podcast

Who’s Right, Who’s Wrong In Sports Betting Limits Debate | Sports Betting News | LSR Podcast 235


29 min
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Who’s Right, Who’s Wrong In Sports Betting Limits Debate | Sports Betting News | LSR Podcast 235

Another legislative session comes to a quiet end for people hoping for sports betting to become legal. Then, the crew dives deep into the failed Massachusetts roundtable on sports betting limits, as well as laying out a path for an informed and productive discussion on how to strike compromise between bettors and books.

Full transcript

Matt Brown (00:15):

Hello and welcome to episode number 235 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, who is flu-gaming it for us here. Just call him the Michael Jordan of sports gaming business news over here, powering through a little bit of an ailment.


Adam, do appreciate you coming in. If people want to follow you on the Twitter machine where they can’t hear your voice, it’s Adam Candee, two E’s, no Y. If they hate theirself, they can follow me @MattBrownM2. But listen, this is going to be some of your best work because as we know, everyone does their best work when they’re a little under the weather.

Adam Candee (00:54):

I’m planning on pushing you off much like Jordan did to Russell in those Finals. I’m going to give you a giant shove and then I’m going to drop in the game winner. You know it, buddy.

Matt Brown (01:05):

I like it. I love it. I guess we … One thing we didn’t get to whenever we were talking to you last week about your trips back East, if you were actually able to attend one of your beloved Knicks games when you were over there.

Adam Candee (01:20):

I was able to attend not one, but two of the New York Knicks’ playoff games while I was back east. I was telling some friends that it was the first time I had seen the Knicks at Madison Square Garden in 37 years.

Matt Brown (01:36):


Adam Candee (01:36):

So do the math on how old I am. But yeah, it was … they were, I should say, two of the best sports experiences I have ever had. And I will give people a little bit of a behind-the-curtain look here. You and I had an off-air discussion about the ticket prices and should you spend and this and that and your advice was, I think, advice that should go to everyone out there: If you go and you have a fantastic experience, you will never again remember how much you spent on it so long as you are not betting the rent-

Matt Brown (02:15):


Adam Candee (02:15):

… on going. And thankfully, I was in a position to spend a little bit on a ticket to each of those games. The tickets were exorbitant, but they were two of the best sporting events I’ve ever attended in my life. So it was great.

Matt Brown (02:28):

Awesome, man. Love to hear that. Yeah, it’s the deal, man. I always say you’re never going to be sitting on your deathbed regretting an experience that you had. You might sit on your deathbed and regret some of the other things you did with some cash along the way or whatever, but something that sparks an awesome memory, I don’t think you’re ever going to regret for sure.

Another legislative session comes to a quiet end


Let’s kick things off here with just a brief news story and then we’re going to get you guys in and out of here quick today. We’ll just get to a more kind of long discussion, but let’s start over in Minnesota where we were trying to have our friends up there in the Minnesota area feeling pretty good about things, Adam, but that is maybe I was a little premature on that not going to happen.

Adam Candee (03:12):

Well, I’ll tell you what, I don’t think anyone in Minnesota is feeling particularly good as we record this on Thursday because earlier in the week, sports betting hopes went down the drain, and then of course last night you got a little Luka’d, you got a little Luka’d and a little Kyrie’d, and so now the folks in Minnesota looking for a little better news this weekend when it comes to basketball and next year when it comes to sports betting, as the Minnesota legislative session has come to an end without a sports betting bill passing. There was progress as there always is, deadlines spur action. Hat tip to Andrew Brandt.


But in the end, this is something that got close and didn’t happen. We were saying the same thing last year in Minnesota and it continues to be an extremely complex negotiation to try to get all of the moving parts together. We had two years where there was hope and two years where there was failure. I’ll go directly to Pat Evans story on this where Representative Zack Stephenson, who’s been at the heart of this, sent out this tweet on Monday.


Quote, “We’re going to come up just short on the sports betting bill this year, but in the last few days we proved that we could find a deal that all the major stakeholders could live with, tribes, tracks, charities. That’s meaningful progress that can be a foundation for the future.” And I guess I would just push back a little bit on that tweet to say, if you found a deal that everyone could live with, then why didn’t it pass?


And if you found a deal that everyone could live with, why did it take as long as it did to come to some level of understanding on what would get through? Again, I get it when a deadline comes up, everyone is willing to come with their best and final offer to be able to get something done, but the fact of the matter is nothing got done, and this is a second consecutive year in Minnesota in which it appeared that there was some sort of consensus on the framework for a deal that would get sports betting legalization done.


So again, that’s not anything directly toward Representative Stephenson, who’s taken up the mantle on this. It’s really words to all of the parties involved that if you’re serious about getting this done, then stop playing around till the very end of the session in trying to get the absolute best deal, every dollar possible because when that happens, then what you realize, if you’re someone like me or like plenty of others who have worked in politics, sports betting is never going to be in the front of the line at the end of the session.


There are going to be other priorities that take up floor time, that take up vote time, that you’re not going to be able to get sports betting done at the very end. It’s something that needs to draw its consensus earlier in the session, unless you have a state that has a significantly less complex structure than Minnesota.

Matt Brown (06:03):

If you’re wondering, “OK…” You’re sitting up there and you’re like, “OK, well what about next year?” We do have at the bottom of the article over on LSR basically that all 134 House seats are up for election this cycle. And so Adam, as you well know, might not be on some of the people’s radar if they come in and they get elected and take over for someone.


And there’s also some people going to be retiring, specifically one Pat Garofalo who has been a big sports betting supporter up there in Minnesota. So I guess we could say proceed with caution here if you’re trying to be optimistic about 2025 because we don’t really know what the house is even going to look like and whether those people care at all about sports betting.

Adam Candee (06:47):

Well, Matt, I’m going to go back to something you asked me about at the top of the podcast and talk about the New York Knicks. The New York Knicks, it can be assumed because they bring most of their core back next year. You say, “Well, great run to the second round. Maybe if they were healthier, they would’ve gone farther, et cetera, et cetera.” And the fallacy is to believe that you start next season from where you finished last season.


It doesn’t always work that way. Is Jalen Brunson going to be a top five player in the league again? You hope so, but you don’t know it. Is Anunoby back? Is Hartenstein back? You don’t know. And the same thing when it comes to legislation. Like you just said, the same players are not back. The same momentum might not be there. The national political landscape could look different.


There are all sorts of things that get in the way when you talk about next year. And so again, Minnesota is one of the more promising states among those that are left to do something, right? There are very few states left on the map that have not legalized sports betting in some form and there are some no hopers among those states that you can’t even look at. So Minnesota will continue to be a prime target, but it’s going to be another year.

Matt Brown (08:01):

Yeah. We’ll obviously keep you guys updated on all things Minnesota and hopefully have some good news for you as we head into 2025. Adam, like we said, not going to keep people super long today, but did want to hit on something else that is the feature story over on LSR right now. If you head to legalsportsreport.com, you’ll see that the main story there in the middle was a discussion or lack thereof, if we should say about limiting bettors out there.

Deep into failed Massachusetts roundtable on sports betting limits

Adam Candee (08:32):

If you are feeling like your day is entirely too calm, you’re bored, you just need something to get the juices flowing a little bit, head on over to social media and start talking among sports betting Twitter about limiting and banning bettors because your day will get interesting and spicy in a hurry. This is what happened in Minnesota, I should say in Massachusetts yesterday. In Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission held a roundtable discussion that was intended to be about limiting bettors. And we know that this is not a very public subject, right?


Sportsbooks generally do not like to talk about this. We did a couple of years ago hear Jason Robins from DraftKings say, “Yeah, this is an entertainment activity. We’re not looking for winning bettors.” And it generated some controversy even though we know that that’s the thinking, not just at DraftKings, but in a lot of places where sportsbooks are running a business and they don’t always want to cater to everything that sharp bettors are looking for.


It’s the constant dance and game that bettors and sportsbooks have gone through for decades on decades, nothing new there. But what happened in Massachusetts is that both some members of the public and sportsbooks were invited to take part in this roundtable, and all 10 of the active sportsbooks in Massachusetts declined to take part. They said that they would talk in executive session, which is private, about this, but they asserted that they would be giving away too much of their private business practice to be talking about this in a public forum.


That, of course, drew the expected response from the public side of things that said, “See, this is the problem. It’s all done in the shadows. We have no idea when we’re going to be able to get a bet down. Sportsbooks just limit us, and this is why we have to use offshore. This is why we have to use bookies.” PS, one of the betting advocates that was brought in by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission was then out there on Twitter the next day talking about an overall betting strategy that involves Pay Per Head and other offshores and bookies.


So we know that this is a real thing in terms of the thinking. So Matt, you and I can have this discussion, honestly, we could go on for hours and talk about this, and there aren’t a lot of people who are neutral on this discussion. Everyone has an opinion as to the practice of legal sportsbooks limiting and banning air quotes “sharp bettors” or people who are bonus hunters or people who are otherwise abusing the system in arbing or trying to find bad lines or whatever.


And so I, sir, turn the floor over to you because for those out there who don’t know this, trust me, I don’t know that there’s anyone who has a more informed opinion on both sides of this, both as someone who understands the business and as someone who is a regular sports bettor than my friend Matt Brown.

How to strike compromise between bettors and books

Matt Brown (11:32):

Yeah, it really is. Like you said, it’s a very hot topic where it seems like most people are on the polar opposite sides. You are either, you’re either team ban them or you’re a team you should never be banned. And weirdly enough, Adam, and I know it’s almost illegal these days to actually try to be somewhere in the middle and something out on both sides of all this, but that’s actually where I stand. Because I have seen cases and though I think that they’re far more rare than people try to make them out to be, though that’s anecdotal, and obviously you and I don’t have access to back-end stuff to know that this is for true.


But I don’t think dudes should be getting reduced on $50 bets and stuff like that. And I’ve seen this, you have seen it too, come through where it’s the anecdotal thing, “Look, I tried to put in $50 and they’re going to let me bet $11 or something,” or whatever it might be. That to me seems a little ridiculous. But at the same time, what’s going on here? This isn’t somebody sitting behind a keyboard manually rejecting you, right? I mean, and that’s just the reality of all this. In order to be able to operate at scale like these guys do, I mean, this is using an algorithm. Right?


Unless you are a super VIP customer where you do have access to a VIP host and things like that, the decisions on whether you’re getting limited or not or whatever is 99% of the time just coming from a computer. It’s not coming from an actual human being itself. And so there’s a discussion I think to be had about how do you fix that, right? I mean, should a computer be … and listen, I’ve experienced it here in Vegas where I know for sure it’s not a guy pushing a button saying no to me.


It’s literally just a computer saying, “Ah, we’re not going to take that right now because we’re a little lopsided on this side, so we’re not going to do that.” And Adam, I look at it and I think that everybody wants to look at this and think that the sportsbooks are just the big bad wolf in all of this, but there’s a lot that goes into running these businesses at scale and volume.


And so I can understand the frustration of people who when you try to put in what they would consider to be smallish bets, getting reduced and things like that. But when you start putting in four-figure bets, five-figure bets and things like that in these books, which is probably then at that point really is getting escalated to a human being and there are risk managers, there are people who’d have to answer to somebody else in all this.


This is not like a charity. Right? These sportsbooks, I think a lot of sports bettors out there think that sportsbooks operate strictly for them to just be able to make infinite money, which is not the case. It is still a business, right? Most of these are publicly traded companies. They have people that they answer to, they have shareholders that they answer to, all of these other things. And it’s like, “Well, why are you taking six-figure bets from this guy who is obviously getting the best of you repeatedly over and over and over and over and over again?”


And I guess, Adam, I would kick this back to you, I guess there is merit in asking the question of, “Well, I mean look, he just as well could have lost all of those bets and you sure as hell wouldn’t have refunded him anything or anything. You probably would’ve given him bigger limits or whatever, and instead he’s winning and then you lower the limits. Why is that fair?” I honestly think this is a good debate to have, and I think that the answer does lie somewhere in the middle.

Adam Candee (14:56):

And Matt, I’m so glad at the very end there, you used the word that this entire discussion comes back to: fair. And no one is going to agree on the definition of fair. Right? The sportsbook thinks it is fair to offer a wide variety of markets – hopefully – on which it takes a wide variety of limits – hopefully, – and gives people what they believe to be an entertainment option in which the sportsbook is going to ultimately in the long run win.


Now, on the flip side of that, bettors are going to argue that they have a greater understanding of what fair is than the legal US sportsbooks, right? Because they’ve been doing this longer. Anyone who is complaining about this right now is someone who has been betting for longer than six years, longer than the US sports betting market has existed. Right? The complaints are not coming from someone who just opened their sports betting app a year ago and just found this for the first time.


It’s someone who has a greater understanding. And so I think it’s fair to use that word, that we give those people their forum, that there should be an open discussion about this. And that’s where the Massachusetts Gaming Commission was coming from the right place trying to host this discussion. And I don’t like the fact that the sportsbooks ducked it in the way that they did. I don’t believe that saying you are giving away too much private information is a coverall for having a discussion in a public forum about this practice. I understand that it’s very difficult to have that discussion in an informed way, to come out there and say, “All right, well here’s our policy.” Right?

Matt Brown (16:43):


Adam Candee (16:44):

Because that’s what a lot of people want. A lot of people say, “Well, post your limits.” Right? “Post your policy.” That in the end is something that while it sounds reasonable on its face, is something that is only going to lead to syndicates and sharper people and those who are trying to win this game, having another tool to figure out how to game the system. That’s the facts. And if you’re someone who is a bettor and you don’t like that, I respect your opinion.

Matt Brown (17:13):

Yeah, I do too.

Adam Candee (17:13):

I understand where you’re coming from.

Matt Brown (17:15):

I get it. I mean, that’s the thing about it, right? It’s like I really do. I really sympathize for some of these dudes that aren’t doing anything wrong other than the fact that they’re good at what they do. Right, Adam? I mean, that’s the other thing. So here’s, you mentioned it in the kind of prologue to all of this, which is the truth. There are some guys out there that are just out there to game the system. Right?


There are guys that are out there doing nothing more, like you mentioned, than picking off stale lines, looking for errors within the algorithms and the programs and things like that, looking to just sit there and arb and middle and all the stuff. There are guys that do that. And listen, if a sportsbook doesn’t want their business, I’m kind of indifferent on that, right? Because then at that point, I know what they would say, and I get there is skill involved in that.


You can’t say there’s not skill involved in that. OK? I mean, yes, you have to be able to have all of the algorithms and you’re running your own algorithms against their algorithms and being able to have access to all the accounts and acquire all the accounts. There’s a lot of work that does go into that and there is skill involved in being able to even make it happen, I suppose.


But when we’re actually talking about, Adam, why this stuff got legalized in the first place was, “Hey, look, there is a skill involved in sports betting. You are taking information. You and the sportsbook have the same information and you’re going to decide whether the line that they put up is right or wrong or you have an edge on this side or that side, whatever it might be, and that’s how you kind of go up against it.” That was kind of the nature of sports betting in general whenever it got legalized across the nation.


And so once we start getting into the nuance of all the guys that are professionals at doing this and that are doing it, I mean, they’re making money and like I said, there is skill involved. I’m not saying there’s not skill involved, but it does go against kind of what the spirit and the nature of the legalization had in the first place. You know what I’m saying?

Adam Candee (19:13):

Well, this is why I love discussing these things with you because the spirit of it is where I was going with this in my next part of this discussion. Because what the next natural phenomenon that happens is people who are sports bettors, people who have been betting in the offshore market for a very long time or have been betting with their locals, whatever it is, they’re the ones who come back to those who advocate for the legal industry, for those who are involved in the legal industry and say, “See, this is why this doesn’t make any sense. This is why I stay offshore. This is why I bet local.”


And I understand why you say that, but the fact of the matter is that those industries face less regulation, they face less overhead, they offer less consumer protection. It comes back to the same discussion that we have had a million times, which is, there is a place for everyone, right? There is a place for everyone. So long as the Department of Justice is not going to do broad enforcement of the Wire Act and other federal law against offshore operators, right? We saw it happen with the 5Dimes settlement where they pay $48 million ostensibly to try to go legit. We haven’t heard a lot about that in a while, have we? But now-

Matt Brown (20:27):


Adam Candee (20:28):

Yeah. Right. Haven’t heard a thing about that. But so long as the DOJ is not going to be broadly enforcing this, then people are going to have the opportunity to play offshore. We will continue to talk about the differences between the legal and the offshore market, and we will continue to say there is a place for everyone, but if you are someone who is upset about the lack of posted limits and you are upset about it because-


Let me just throw a scenario out there, Matt, you’re upset about it because you would like to know how much your beard can get down at a certain sportsbook and how many of those beards you need to be able to have at how many different places to be able to get what you want on a certain line before that line goes away from you. Then I don’t think the sportsbook’s under any obligation to be posting limits. But like you said, if you’re someone who wants to bet $50 and $100 at a time, come on, man. Come on. That is ridiculous.

Matt Brown (21:21):

That is absurd, yes.

Adam Candee (21:22):

That is not fair to the spirit of what was being done, which was to engage the average person and give them an entertainment option that can be managed and be done appropriately to enhance their enjoyment of the experience. If you are limiting $50 bettors and you are limiting $100 bettors and you’re kicking them back to a $10 bet, that’s not right.

Matt Brown (21:44):

Yeah. And then I bring this up to a lot of people all the time, and I get met with all kinds of angst on this, but this is just the truth as well. There is a sportsbook in downtown Las Vegas that is willing to take big action, and you can go down to Circa and you can sit there and you can talk to the damn owner of the casino.


You can talk to the head of the sportsbook if you want to, and they will work out some deals with you on making bets and things like that. And Adam, sure they won’t give you unlimited limits, but they’ll give you big limits, and they will let you know beforehand what the big limits are and all that. If you’re a professional sports bettor, and let’s be for real, who is really, really jumping up and down about this outside of people who are super, super avid and or professional sports bettors, right?


I have had to relocate for a job before. You have had to relocate for a job before. If it’s something you want to do for a living and you don’t think that it is being offered to you properly in your state, well, Circa has a book in a couple of different states, and Circa has an owner and a sportsbook operator, a guy that runs the sports you can go literally stand across damn the counter from and talk to and whatever if you wanted to do that.


And so if you’re living in one of the states with the casual books and you’re complaining about the limits and things like that and all that, I mean, if you want to take it super, super seriously, if you’re a pro golfer or if you’re a super, super avid golfer, Adam, you’re probably not living in a place that snows all the time. Right? You’re probably living in Florida or Texas or Vegas or California or whatever.


If it’s something you really love to do or if you want to do it professionally, there are avenues in which you can still do what you want to do and not complain about it. It’s just you might have to relocate. And again, I understand some people that roll their eyes at me when I say stuff like that, but it’s like other jobs you relocate, other things you relocate for, quality of life and whatever. If your quality of life is going down because you can’t get the amount of sports bets you want to get to, you can relocate to a place that you can. I mean, just I’m just putting it out there because people act like that’s not in the equation either.

Adam Candee (23:53):

Well, and if you’re at the point where this is the discussion that you need to have with yourself, then let’s also be honest about the fact that you’re probably known offshore, right? You are probably someone who’s having trouble getting the outs that you want other places. If you’re having this discussion in the legal market, you’re not coming into the legal market getting limited for the first time and saying, “Well, I guess I’m going to have to go offshore.”


Right? That is not the discussion that we’re having about this. But again, you and I can keep talking about this on a podcast all day, all day, all day. The fact of the matter is the Massachusetts Gaming Commission trying to have this discussion in an open forum was coming from the right place. They’re doing what should happen.


There should be discussion in the legal market among the people who have the authority and the ability to force sportsbooks to do something about this and to take the input from bettors and be able to say, “That is reasonable and that is not, and we will not do that, but we might do this.” And to bring everybody to the table and to at least have a discussion about this. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is in the right place.


That being said, they need to bring in the right people to discuss it, and when the sportsbooks say that they won’t, as one industry source said to us about this story, it goes a long way towards showing what clout the sportsbooks think the regulator actually has. And when you play that game, Matt, when you play the game of, “Well, we don’t really have to talk to you,” just be careful because eventually it might rise to a level where someone who does have the power to make you talk like the bill that is making its way toward Congress right now about sports betting advertisement and the use of AI, et cetera. That level of someone might eventually put you at the table and it might’ve made more sense to get there sooner.

Matt Brown (25:44):

I agree. I think the one thing that you and I both agree on in this conversation is there is a right and wrong, I think on both sides. Right? I mean, we sympathize on the sports bettor side of this. We also can understand a sportsbook’s side of all of this too. I mean, there are guys that do try to abuse the system and do things wrong, and so you have to do what you have to do on those guys.


And at the same time on the sports bettor side, like you said, if a guy’s betting 50, 100 bucks, even 200, I mean, let’s be honest, I mean, two, three hundred dollars even, if you’re limiting them on those or whatever, then you now as an operator have gone against the nature of all of this as well.


So I mean, there is a compromise to be had. There’s an understanding to be had here. There is certainly a discussion to be had as we just, as everyone listening to this now knows since we’ve gone on about this for 20 minutes, but there is a discussion to be had about all of this. There is no right or wrong answer. There’s a gray area in between, and it’s kind of figuring out that gray area in between and what works for both sides.

Adam Candee (26:41):

No question about it, Matt. And the more that this industry evolves into, how do I want to say this, into something that is impossible to avoid in the consciousness, right? Like when we hear all about it on every sports betting network as ESPN Bet gets pushed harder and harder, et cetera, et cetera. Right? As you can’t get away from it, we all need to be willing to engage the discussion.


All sides need to be willing to engage this discussion. And it can’t be on terms that only benefit one side. Right? And for sportsbooks to say, “We’ll only discuss this in private session,” those are terms that only benefit one side. I believe there is a way to have a broad discussion on this that would show good faith for the sportsbooks to come out and be able to have this discussion in public.


And I also believe that bettors need to have a genuine and truthful approach to this if they’re going to participate in the discussion. Don’t make it sound like that you’re coming to the table because you’re trying to stand up for the common man. You’re not. You’re trying to stand up for yourself and your interest, and that’s OK. That’s fine, but don’t put it on like you’re coming out here and trying to stand up for the $50 bettor, because you’re not.

Matt Brown (28:00):

Absolutely. Boy, like you said, we can go on about this for an hour, but I think 20 minutes is good for everybody out there. I said we were going to get you out of here in a hurry. Guess what? I lied. Sorry. It is what it is.

Adam Candee (28:09):

Liar. You liar.

Matt Brown (28:10):

Yeah. Liar. I know. I lied. Sorry about all that. Guys, you can get everything and more that we talk about on the podcast over at legalsportsreport.com, so be sure and take in everything that we do, absolutely free. If you haven’t done so already, please subscribe to the podcast. If you want to go in and rate and review, do appreciate that as well a lot. For Adam, I am Matt. Talk to you guys next week.

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