As the weeks progress during this peculiar NFL season, there has been an immense amount of reporting on huge wagers. Actually, it seems to increase with each passing week.
What am I missing here? With great respect to the esteemed journalists who cover the sports betting world, many with formal backgrounds who’re good people, these blurbs (they’re not even stories) are an inch deep and a mile wide. I see these tweets all the time before games and basically yawn.
Here are a few questions that automatically come to my mind when I read about a six- or seven-figure bet from various sportsbooks whom share this information with the media:
• Does the average person betting $50 or $100 a week really care?
• Will the bet influence a person’s wagering decision on that particular game?
• After seeing the bet at a particular sportsbook, is the customer influenced to sign up for their app?
• Without seeing a ticket or screenshot, is the information BS?
In order to be fair and keep an open mind about my personal opinion, I reached out to several people in the industry to gather different perspectives on the matter.
Darren Rovell is the senior executive producer and sports business reporter for Action Network. Whether you like his style or not, Rovell is certainly an “influencer” in our ecosystem. He’s got over two million followers on Twitter.
“I’m the biggest perpetrator of the big bet,” Rovell told me by phone last week. When I asked him who cares about this stuff, he said, “A lot of people care because it’s good content, creates abundant social media traffic, and sparks a ton of discussion.”
With regard to validating if these bets are in fact real Rovell said, “I ask for tickets and everyone complies.”
As for the sportsbook companies and the supposed positive impact these big bets have on business Rovell said: “It’s great marketing and brand awareness but we can’t be certain it leads to betting with them. The casual bettor is the growth segment and that’s crucial in new customer acquisition. People like to think about “that guy” and what did he know but they also realize that losing likes company.”
My problem is that these anecdotes, like the games themselves, have a very short shelf life. Team A plays Team B, Team A wins and covers ... next. In the very rare case where the huge bettor makes their plays available for viewing on social media, we don’t know anything else related to the bet.
For me, that’s the story. Obviously with privacy rules and such, we’re left to just take the information as gospel. What’s not mentioned but quite often the case with sportsbooks within casinos, is that these huge wagers come from “whale” customers. They typically have won big at the tables and have access to massive lines of credit.
.@DKSportsbook took a $2 million, 3-team, money-line parlay—Gators, Vols and Rams—that paid a net $1.1 million.— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) October 5, 2020
DK also took a $1.4 million bet on an alternate total--Over 42 Jags-Bengals -263--that won $531,319.
Both are the largest reported regular-season bets I can recall.
Although there are the rare exceptions to the mystery wagerers. Take the story of Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale. The Houston furniture magnate routinely makes huge future bets on his beloved Astros. Yet there’s a back story that involves these bets. Typically, they are a hedge against massive promotions from his business in the case that the Astros win the World Series.
What the public might like to understand is the many steps involved to make one of these “major wagers,” especially for the first time. The process can start days before as a customer must make contact with a sportsbook and express the desire to make a huge bet. There are rules, just like at our banks where they have to report transactions over $10,000 to the feds. This begins the KYC (know your customer) process for the operators. Will the ticket be printed or the bet taken online? These are some of the many hurdles that must be cleared before those wagers are made. We just hear about the bet and are spared the details.
I asked a long-time professional gambler, who preferred we not use his name, what he thought about these big bet news flashes.
“I think it sends the wrong message to the youth of America,” he said. ”It’s also poor messaging to 99% of the public because the large bets are mostly for the NFL, which is by far the hardest to win. Yet if I want to wager $500 on a proposition bet, they limit me to a fraction of that.”
A prominent sportsbook director in Las Vegas who also thought it was best to not be named said that privately he and his colleagues are amused by these tweets.
“They certainly create a lot of engagement with Joe Public. People are intrigued by the amounts and it also helps create brand awareness.”
These sentiments were echoed by Matt Perrault on our podcast GT Cash Considerations.
“I know the regular Joe wants to see the big bets,” he said. “ I’m just skeptical as to how they’re being reported.”
I also reached out to an everyday sports bettor. Joe Garcia holds court daily at the Circa sportsbook within The D Las Vegas. He’s got quite an active twitter account and chat room called SGD Nation. When I asked his candid thoughts on the big bet reports he said, “It provides entertainment value and it’s good for the industry. As far as the bets themselves, I take them with a grain of salt.”
Here’s what I do know. The average monthly mortgage payment in the U.S. is $1,500. And the median home sale price is $212,000. We’re seeing bets twice the amount of most people’s homes. Are these bets drawing people in to both wager and do it with a particular brand?
Let’s be honest, the overall sports betting content is new for many of us, given the repeal of PASPA in the spring of 2018. And this is the most compelling content we can deliver? We’re a society of clickbait. The de facto measuring sticks are likes, retweets and number of followers. I understand the game but I don’t have to like it.
It’s a flavor of the day thing. What will the reporting look like a year from now?