Bookmaker Spotlight: BetMGM’s Jason Scott Dishes on US Sports Betting, Crazy Handle, Fixed-Odds Horse Racing, and More

GamingToday.com is an independent sports news and information service. GamingToday.com has partnerships with some of the top legal and licensed sportsbook companies in the US. When you claim a bonus offer or promotion through a link on this site, Gaming Today may receive referral compensation from the sportsbook company. Although the relationships we have with sportsbook companies may influence the order in which we place companies on the site, all reviews, recommendations, and opinions are wholly our own. They are the recommendations from our authors and contributors who are avid sports fans themselves.

For more information, please read How We Rank Sportsbooks, Privacy Policy, or Contact Us with any concerns you may have.

Gaming Today is licensed and regulated to operate in AZ, CO, CT, IN, KS, LA, MI, NJ, NY, PA, TN, and VA.

BetMGM's Jason Scott (second from left) at BetBash 2 in Las Vegas. Also pictured are Doug Kezirian (ESPN), Robert Walker (US Bookmaking), Adam Bjorn (Plannatech), Jeff Davis (Circa)

Relocating from Brisbane, Australia to Jersey City, New Jersey in December 2019, Jason Scott took over bookmaking operations at BetMGM as the US sports betting industry was hitting its stride. Prior to his move to the US, Scott served as CEO of sportsbook giant Ladbrokes Australia, and he once made his living as a professional bettor, working for the world’s largest horse racing syndicate.

It took Scott just over a year of the northeast’s dicey climate before he sought sunnier environs. He now calls Las Vegas home.

“I’m an Australian guy, and I needed to feel the sun on my back,” Scott said. “I also had a team out in Vegas, so I moved here in January ’21, and I’ve been here since. Give me the sun over the snow.”

Scott – who is off to a fine start in Bookies Battle 2022 with 10 winners in Week 1 – spent some time on the phone with Gaming Today on Tuesday. We discussed the record handle and “ridiculous” hold percentage BetMGM saw in the first weekend of NFL betting, why he doesn’t bet much anymore, what has surprised him about the US market, why traditional American sports are perfectly-suited for in-game wagering, his worst bad beat he shares with many gamblers, and much more.

Gaming Today: (Besides the climate) what else do you miss about Australia?

Scott: It’s probably the horse racing. I really love the racing. So I do miss that. I really haven’t had time to get into the US racing properly.

Gaming Today: Have you had a chance to visit any tracks in the US?

Scott: I went to Del Mar for the Breeders Cup last year for a couple of days, and I went down for the two days of the Kentucky Derby this year. Both of them were spectacularly good – well-run organizations, well-run events. It’s a pity we can’t get that sort of interest in racing 52 weeks of the year that we had in those two days. But they were both fantastic.

Gaming Today: There’s been of lot of talk about fixed-odds (horse racing) over the last few years. What kind of impact do you think that will have on US horse racing?

Scott: It’s the only way for it to grow. We have customers who bet with us six figures in sport, and they want to bet on horses, and they can only have $2,000 and $3,000 bets because the pools are so small. I have a couple of customers that might turn over $2 million a week on their own – that’s $100 million a year if they can bet to limits they want to bet. They bet sport because they can get amounts that interest them.

We found everywhere else in the world, customers want to understand and know what price they’re going to get. In most of the meetings here, the pools are really small. The professional syndicates bet late, and the price that you’re getting paid is nothing like (the odds at the time of the wager) because so much money’s going in in the last minute.

I’ve said it before publicly, it’s the only way to reinvigorate the US market. I understand Churchill’s point – they’re scared of margin, and they call themselves a high-margin business. But they’re misguided. … We’ve seen it everywhere in the world — where fixed odds come in, horse racing just doubles and triples in handle.

Gaming Today: Have you become a fan, since you moved here, of American sports, particularly American football?

Scott: I’ve always loved football and baseball. The sport that surprised me that I’ve enjoyed the most is hockey. It doesn’t get a lot of coverage at home, but I’ve been to several arenas, I watch quite a lot on TV. It’s probably the game that’s growing on me the most.

Gaming Today: We’re coming off NFL Week 1, it just closed last night (Monday). How did it go for the book?

Scott: Look, no one wants to hear a bookmaker brag, but we had a spectacular week. We had a record week for us. I think it was our biggest college football Saturday ever, our second biggest NFL Sunday ever, beaten only by a Super Bowl. And then last night was the dream from heaven for a bookmaker — the results there were enormous … with the Broncos losing.

Gaming Today: Biggest in terms of handle or hold, or both?

Scott: Handle and hold. Handle makes sense, because we’re getting more states coming in. Obviously, New York joined in the playoffs last year; Illinois is going, we’ve joined their digital market; Louisiana, Kansas weren’t there for last football season. So it makes sense that the handle would be the biggest, but the hold percentage was ridiculously good.

Gaming Today: What was the biggest bet you wrote in Week 1?

Scott: The biggest bets we wrote were actually baseball, but in terms of football, we wrote several $220,000 bets to win $200,000. The Ravens was one that won, the Titans lost, the same bet we received last night on the Broncos, and the other one was on the Colts.

Gaming Today: What was the baseball bet?

Scott: We had $275,000 on the Mets that lost (Monday at -400), and we had someone buying money during the weekend with $600,000 – I can’t remember the game – but it was to win $200,000.

Register to Wager at BetMGM: Use Bonus Code TODAY for $1,000 Risk-Free Bet

Any Bets of His Own?

Gaming Today: You’ve worked on both sides of the counter as a bookmaker and a bettor. Are you still active as a bettor?

Scott: I don’t do much. If I bet, it tends to be the horses. I realized a long time ago when I got into bookmaking, if I’m gonna have $400 or $500 (thousand) on it, and I’m cheering for my $500, and then the business has got a million-dollar liability, I just end up conflicted and confused.

Certainly, if I’m going to a game, I might have a bet, but very rarely. It’s simpler just to cheer for one thing, rather than have to worry about two things going around in your mind.

Gaming Today: Can you recall the worst beat of your gambling career?

Scott: It’s definitely Malcolm Butler.

I’d been betting the Seahawks – they started the season badly (2-3) and got injuries after winning the Super Bowl the year before – I think I took 15-to-1, 12-to-1, 10-to-1, and 8-to-1. I’d been going for a fortune for me. Yeah, that pass killed me.

Gaming Today: I was on the Seahawks that day, too.  … What’s your Super Bowl prediction (for this season)?

Scott: I think I’m with the majority here. I can’t see the NFC being a factor, so I’ve probably got it down to three. I think it’ll be the Bills, the Chiefs, or the Chargers. I’ve got a ticket on the Chargers; actually, I’ve also got a ticket on the Eagles. I think there’s a chance that someone does a Bengals from last year and makes a run. I’ve got a ticket there at 40- and 50-to-1, so possibly with the potential to hedge if they do make the Super Bowl. Yeah. But I think it comes down to Bills, Chargers, and Chiefs, in no particular order.

A Peak Inside the Sports Betting Industry

Gaming Today: What has been the biggest surprise to you so far of the US sports betting market?

Scott: I’m not surprised about the scale. I think it is the demand for sports outside the norm, the business that we’re seeing on table tennis on tennis, on soccer right through Europe, on Russian and European basketball and hockey. There is a demand to be betting – rather than just on the big five sports, the college sports, and the pro sports – there is genuine interest in global sports. And we write a lot of bets on lacrosse and on MLS.  Soccer and tennis probably are the two that have really shocked me how valuable and prevalent they are.

Gaming Today: How about in-game betting? What percentage of your handle could you estimate that as of now, and how do you see that growing?

Scott: It is growing. I’ve been here three years, and it’s grown every year. A little bit of that has to do with the product offerings improving. Baseball and football probably suit themselves to in-game betting more than any other sport on the planet. A basketball game, a hockey game, a soccer game, it’s moving too fast. By the time you try and bet, there’s been another bucket or goal or whatever.

Baseball and football have the breaks – to me, they’re the huge options for both in-play betting and micro-betting in-play.  You know, next pitch, next drive, will the next play be a run or pass, those kind of things.

I think that’s where we’re getting to. The offering on these in-play bets on those sports is just going to increase and increase.

Gaming Today: The current expression of odds in the US – +200, +250, -350 – do you think that’s here to stay?

Scott: It’s a delicate point. The rusted-on US sports bettors, the Vegas guys, they’d throw a fit if we changed it. (But) it’s completely confusing to new sports bettors. So it’s really interesting. I’d say 95% of our customers would prefer to see a digital thing that they understand, but that might only equate to 50% of the handle. The people that are used to betting, they prefer the traditional way.

I was in Australia when we moved from fractional to digital, and initially, I was completely against it. I was used to saying 5-to-4, 11-to-8, 13-to-8, whatever price it was, and didn’t like going ‘two dollars 15’ (2.15), ‘two dollars 25’  (2.25), but I learned that it brought a whole new market in, a whole new bunch of people that were too scared to bet because they didn’t exactly know what they’re betting into.

So to bring sports betting into the greater portion of the population, eventually it will go digital. I’m not sure it’ll happen soon, but I think it will happen.

Sports Betting Advice

Gaming Today: What’s the best piece of advice you could offer someone new to sports betting?

Scott: You’ve got to make a decision: Are you here because you’re really trying to make money, or are you sports betting because you enjoy it and it’s part of your entertainment and making a game more enjoyable?

If it’s the former, you need to treat it like a job. You need to do your research, do your work, and if you spend enough hours and do the planning, find an angle — there’s more than one way to win — you can do it.  If it’s just fun for you, and it’s a $20 same-game parlay and it’s affordable, do that. Don’t get too upset when you win, don’t get too sad when you lose. Either way, you’re better off being unemotional. It’s gotta be enjoyable.

Just work out which bucket you fit into. And frankly, if you are trying to make money, work out if you’re any good at it and how much time you’ve got to prepare. But if you think you can just watch games and bet the next week and make money, you’re probably not gonna win.

This interview was edited for brevity and clarity.

About the Author
Marcus DiNitto

Marcus DiNitto

Sr. News Editor
Marcus DiNitto is Senior News Editor for Gaming Today. He has been managing editor at national sports websites SportsBusiness Daily, Sporting News, and The Linemakers, as well as with licensed operator USA Sports Gaming. Marcus graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his MBA from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

Get connected with us on Social Media