Back on March 27, The Hill published an opinion piece by Sheldon H. Jacobson, Ph.D., a computer science professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
The title of the piece, “Will online sports gambling kill America,” seemed … just a bit outside.
Don’t get me wrong — I love a good sensational headline. After all, I am the man responsible for “He Took It In The Butt” for The Trentonian newspaper, detailing steroid allegations against Roger Clemens. So I’m good with sensationalism. But I can tick off about a million other items that might “kill America” before the ability to place a three-team parlay on my iPhone permanently does in the republic.
Jacobson’s piece, which was only slightly less hysterical than the headline, called for a “consortium” of sports betting companies to come together and work in a “unified manner” to lead the charge in pulling back on advertising and helping to prevent problem gambling in an effort to ensure America doesn’t become a failed state. Jacobson, however, failed to do a little fact check of his piece, because there happens to be a “consortium” that is attempting to work in a “unified” manner, and it’s called the American Gaming Association.
This point was hammered home by the president of said association, Bill Miller, who noted in a letter to The Hill that the industry is, in fact, leading the charge in helping to prevent problem gambling, mentioning that the AGA released its Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering back in 2019. The code was even updated a few weeks back.
We can argue about the seriousness of the sports betting operators and the AGA in helping to stamp out problem gambling, but either way, good for Miller in pointing out a major flaw in Jacobson’s hit piece.
Quit while you’re ahead
But Miller couldn’t leave well enough alone. In fact, in his tweet highlighting his response, Miller made note of the most annoying aspect of the AGA’s rhetoric: that legalized sports betting is beating back the scourge of offshore sportsbooks.
Despite a rash of cookie-cutter, click-bait “reporting” on legal sports betting in recent months, the reality is the industry is leading on responsibility—including in advertising.
My piece in today’s @thehill addresses these lazy narratives: https://t.co/MU4V8XpFyM pic.twitter.com/47K9iGzE0k
— Bill Miller (@BillMillerAGA) April 5, 2023
“Criticizing legal sports betting advertising might drive clicks, but it misses the mark on what advertising does in practice: it plays an essential role in moving people away from illegal, offshore sportsbooks,” Miller wrote.
Oh Bill. Billy, Billy, Billy. Why sully a good response by invoking the most bullsh**ty of rationales? Anyone with the tiniest skin in the game knows the repeal of PASPA did next to nothing to prevent people from wagering offshore, specifically pros and sharps.
How do I know? Because I asked pros and sharps. No need to highlight them here, but to a man, they all agreed.
AGA must be aware that the bulk of people seeing the barrage of ads weren't betting offshore anyway. And, any successful bettors banned for winning must then go offshore to bet. Not even trying to present a fair view of reality. https://t.co/CP8J5QYYPI
— Jeff Fogle (@JeffFogle) April 5, 2023
In fact, if anything, legalized sports betting in its current form might actually push more business offshore, because the AGA’s “consortium” continues to limit anyone with a pulse.
I’ll point to myself as example 1A, if it pleases the court.
I never once bet offshore. Didn’t seem worth the hassle. As a result, pre-PASPA, I wasn’t a sports bettor, outside of wagers among friends.
PASPA gets repealed, I start betting on sports here in New Jersey. I have, at press time, been severely limited at DraftKings, BetMGM, Borgata, and bet365. I am not a sharp, barely a winning bettor, and even a losing bettor at some of these books. But for whatever reason — I’m guessing because I beat the closing line once or their algorithms caught me arb’ing (guilty as charged) — I’ve been limited.
I am, at best, a hobbyist when it comes to sports betting. If I’m betting $100 a week on actual wagers (not arbs), it’s a busy week. So I’m not running to Pinnacle, despite its better odds and higher limits. But I certainly am more likely to do so now than I was before. If I ever got “serious” about sports betting, why wouldn’t I find a book that gave me -106 sides instead of -110 or, in some cases, -115?
To say legal sportsbooks advertising their business is keeping people away from offshore sportsbooks is ridiculous. One truly has next to nothing to do with the other.
If Miller was being honest, he would’ve done what I’ve done 53 different ways. Namely, point out other forms of gambling that advertise all over the place, point out the hypocrisy of the current fight against sports betting, and bring up the fact that sports betting accounts for a tiny percentage of problem gambling.
But no. He brought up the fight against the evil offshore operators.
So, again, as usual, we have the hysterical people railing against legalized sports betting, the supposed guardians of legalized sports betting railing against the offshores, and the players themselves standing around like John Travolta from Pulp Fiction, wondering where the hell anyone is who’s actually looking out for them.
Oh well. Another day, right?