‘Gamble On’ 200 Highlights: An Overabundance Of Self-Congratulations

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Over the course of nearly four years and exactly 200 episodes, Gamble On has established itself as the leading gaming industry podcast, delivering news and analysis as well as interviews with the most influential names in gambling every week.

The milestone 200th episode, posted July 14, 2022, features an interview with the two most frequent guests in the pod’s history, Better Collective executive Adam Small and RotoGrinders SVP of Operations Dan Back, both of whom were in New Jersey this week for the annual SBC North America Summit. The two industry insiders gave their assessments of the state of the sports betting business four years and change after PASPA’s fall.

“I think it’s gone really well in terms of the interest and acceptance culturally, in the media, and in people around the country,” Small said. “The general response I get when I mention I’m in this space, and we start talking about legalization, is, ‘Why didn’t we do this sooner?’”

Added Back: “One thing that’s so clear — and it’s nice that we can put a bow on this — is when sports betting happens in different states, it’s not affecting people going to Vegas, and the handle that they have, and the performance of these other casinos.”

Listen to “200: NCLGS and SBC, California ballot battles, state of the industry with Dan Back and Adam Small” on Spreaker.

Money quotes from Back and Small

Back on the biggest surprise post-PASPA: “I think if you told anybody four years ago that New York would have sports betting, they would have said, ‘Yeah, right.’ So that’s a huge win.” Echoed Small: “I was like, ‘The year 20-never is when New York is going to happen.’”

Small on the varying taxation rates and approaches to regulation: “If every state were like Pennsylvania and New York and charging these rates, none of these books would be competing in this market at all. … One of the more concerning things about the health of the industry is that bigger states are looking and wondering why they should do what Michigan and New Jersey did and create a business-friendly environment. Why not just figure out the way to get the absolute maximum out of state revenue and make that our only priority? … Taxation rates at that level make it a real challenge to offer products that people are actually going to like. I do have some concerns that, if New York did this, what in god’s name is California going to do?”

Both guests made educated guesses as to the year the three remaining huge states — California, Texas, and Florida — will have sports betting. Both have their doubts about California’s ballot measures passing this November, with Back predicting “2025 or so” and Small saying 2026 “at the earliest.” Small is more optimistic about Florida, predicting 2024 (but likely as a single-sportsbook monopoly), while Back said 2025 or 2026. And both see a long timeline for the Lone Star State, with both doubting Texas will take bets before 2028.

And here’s Back commenting on how sports betting is stealing away some of the attention and dollars going into daily fantasy sports: “[DFS] is all driven by a lot of research. Where, sports betting, as more sports betting spreads into states, I think a lot of users are going to feel like ‘I can get just as good of a sweat in sports betting and not have to do the work of DFS.’”

Gamble rambles

Podcast hosts Eric Raskin and John Brennan congratulated themselves on making it to 200 episodes and discussed how long the odds should be that they’ll make it to Episode 500, potentially six years from now. Both agreed it’s a longshot — but Raskin said if someone offered him 10/1 on his money, he’d bet it.
Raskin also congratulated himself on two correct World Series of Poker predictions made on previous podcasts: that the late Layne Flack would be this year’s Poker Hall of Fame inductee, and that the record for the number of participants in the Main Event wouldn’t quite be broken this summer. The former poker magazine editor did say, however, that he thinks the Main Event record falling next summer is about a -300 or -400 favorite.
The California Democratic Party came out in opposition to Proposition 27 — the initiative that would legalize mobile sports betting in the state — leaving Brennan and Raskin no more optimistic than Back and Small about the chances of the measure passing. “Most voters who are aware of [their party’s position] likely would be loyal to their party,” Brennan said. “Combine that with the default mode for a voter who’s completely flummoxed by seeing two ballot questions on the same overall topic, and ‘no’ and ‘skip it’ may be particularly popular results.” Added Raskin: “I guess one thing I’ll be interested to see is whether the California Republicans go opposite to the Democrats on this issue. If they both oppose the measure, you figure enough voters looking to their party’s position before voting would lead to Prop 27 having pretty much no chance.”
A wild betting story out of India gained mainstream media attention this week, after several men filmed fake cricket games with fake crowd noise and rigged the results to take money from gamblers in Russia who were betting on the games. Quipped Brennan: “They were taking money from Russians? That’s not an unpopular result.” And with just $4,000 claimed before the scam was shut down, Raskin noted, “This was a relatively small amount of money involved, so I would say it lets the story fall under ‘funny oddity’ rather than ‘major scandal.’ And that’s good — you can never have too many funny oddities to cover.”
Closing thoughts: Brennan, fighting a cold (and hopefully nothing worse than that) wrapped up the podcast with a commentary on what to do when you’re feeling ill — especially in the COVID era — and have an office to go into or a conference to attend. His simple advice? “Know when to fold ’em when it comes to your health.”

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Author: Ryan Gonzales