It’s information overload everywhere, and there’s not time enough to sleep and eat and stay fully apprised of what’s happening on this crazy blue dot of ours (two out of three ain’t bad). Here’s the weekend Sports Handle item, “Get a Grip,” recapping the week’s top U.S. sports betting stories, highlighting some fresh news, and rounding up key stories. Also check out this week’s Wild World of Gambling at US Bets.
Attempting to gain some clarity in the Don Best-BetCRIS mystery
Since approximately the MLB All-Star Break, there’s been a disconnect between the real-time sportsbook odds aggregator Don Best, the mainstay “screen” used by professional bettors everywhere, and BetCRIS (Costa Rica International Sports), a sportsbook serving Latin America that’s known to set market lines on U.S. sports and leagues. In particular, they’re in most cases the first to post NFL lines on Sunday nights ahead of the next week’s slate of games, and sportsbooks everywhere typically follow or gravitate toward that number.
Is BetCris/Bookmaker/Spo411 off the Donbest screen forever?
— Scott Hoffman (@hoffytime) July 21, 2021
Does anyone know if Bookmaker/CRIS/Sports411 is being listed as something else on Don Best? I havent seen their lines since the software upgrade, let me know
— jerry-shoebox (@jjss64) July 25, 2021
I have not seen them on my db screen and called. No answer and no call back. Been with them since the late 80s and this is the worst I have seen the service. Wish there were alternatives.
— SteveS (@SteveS8096) July 25, 2021
A variety of theories have abounded, but not many know exactly what’s going on, except that the CRIS numbers have, with some limited exceptions, remained empty columns for both subscribers of premium and non-premium tools. This has created wonder and consternation as newer and multi-decade users gear up for football season.
After sniffing around a bit, I think I have at least an ankle-deep grasp on what’s going on, and what may be coming. Here it goes:
BetCRIS caters to all comers and with high limits. Don Best and CRIS have had a longstanding, exclusive agreement that puts real-time CRIS odds on the Don Best screens, helping to facilitate a lot of action for CRIS.
Around the MLB All-Star Break, CRIS began to implement some software/technical upgrades, which coincided with the time that CRIS began its ongoing absence from the Don Best screen.
“It’s 50/50 they’ll be coming back online,” one industry source speculated in late July. “I think it’s CRIS that’s withholding the information. And I think CRIS is spiting itself here. I can’t understand why they wouldn’t want sharps who are playing into them to have that information.”
Don Best, multiple sources said, has taken a nosedive in reliability and customer service since Scientific Games bought the company in Oct. 2018. Multiple key executives exited in the ensuing couple years. In June, SciGames, under new management, announced its intention to sell divest of its sports business, either through a sale, initial public offering, or merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). Don Best and Scientific Games did not respond to requests for comment for this story.
One high-level source familiar with BetCRIS’ operations said that what began in mid-July is purely a technical matter, the result of system-wide updates that caused unexpected issues, and is expected to be resolved soon.
Don Best and CRIS’ period of exclusivity has ended now that Don Best is up for sale, sources said, as CRIS is attempting in some way to make a foray into the U.S. market. The company previously made symbolic headway in 2020 through relationships with both MLB and the NFL, becoming the NFL’s official betting partner in Latin America. At the time of the NFL-CRIS announcement, CEO JD Duarte said in a release:
“We are beyond excited to become the first official sports betting partner of the NFL in Latin America, and we look forward to further enhancing the experience for our users. This represents the culmination of years of work to make Betcris a household name in Latin America. With this partnership, Betcris now enjoys a great competitive advantage that serves our long-term goals well. The NFL has proven to be an ideal partner throughout this process and we look forward to working together.”
While BetCRIS stopped accepting bets from U.S. customers in 2007, some of its customers migrated to the U.S.-facing sites — separate entities — in Bookmaker and Sports411.
David Purdum reported in Sept. 2020 that Duarte told ESPN a few months earlier that his company had aspirations of entering the regulated U.S. sports betting market. Apparently we’re getting closer to that time. It’s unclear if there’s any application in process, if CRIS might serve as an oddsmaking or risk-management partner for another sportsbook, or what.
Multiple industry sources believe that CRIS is working with another “screen” akin to what Don Best provides, and in the process of making technological/software upgrades, will eliminate or curb the ability of some folks to “scrape” its information.
“A good screen with consistently valid information will change the game,” one source said. “Assuming they’re not being manipulated, they’re a valuable source.”
If you are a SportsInsights, DonBest or SBR odds screen user and have interest in trying another product behind the scenes before it goes live, send me a message.
— Adam Chernoff (@adamchernoff) June 28, 2021
In the past, Don Best has charged $500/month for access to its premium product and charged some sportsbooks as well — just to get wired into the screen.
Taking everything together, while it’s not exactly clear from the outside how the parts fit together, these things seem true:
(1) There’s some unpleasantness between Don Best and CRIS.
(2) CRIS is getting closer to making or attempting a foray into the legal and regulated jurisdictions in the U.S., whether licensed by itself or in association with some such entity.
(3) CRIS probably will be available in real time on some new screen(s) that will compete with Don Best, or become non-exclusive with more than a couple such providers;
(4) By the NFL’s regular season kickoff on Sept. 9, CRIS numbers will be available on Don Best again.
To be continued.
Top stories this week from around our network
The Department of the Interior approved the historic gaming compact on Friday, inviting the possibility of a host of legal challenges by commercial books.@MattRybaltowski breaks down the very big news and implications.https://t.co/WEEtd25yo0
— Sports Handle (@sports_handle) August 6, 2021
In legislation and regulation:
Well that left a mark… pic.twitter.com/m7Ho8uYRkT
— Alfonso Straffon 🇨🇷🇺🇸🇲🇽 (@astraffon) August 6, 2021
On and around the field of play:
Everything you need to know about the Evander Kane investigation, game fixing, the NHL's options and whether players that know him believe the allegations. Wysh x @DavidPurdum production. @SanJoseSharks https://t.co/9Me6MLenUd
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) August 3, 2021
Chicago Casino RFP deadline extended
On Friday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot extended the deadline for RFP submissions for a downtown casino by more than two months to Oct. 29. The extension from the original Aug. 23 deadline, when the RFP period was opened in April, allows potential bidders more time to conduct due diligence, create more competitive bid packages, and perhaps most importantly, explore financing opportunities given the cost of operating a casino in the third-largest city in the United States.
“The historic casino project stands to expand the economic vibrancy and strength of our city by bringing sustainable, good-paying jobs to residents from underrepresented backgrounds and creating a world-class casino-resort that attracts visitors from all over,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “Extending the deadline for interested bidders will allow the city to collect as many robust, impactful, and transformative proposals as possible.”
The city was granted one of the six permits to build a new casino as part of the gaming expansion bill Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law in June 2019 that also legalized sports betting in Illinois. Thus far, more news has been made about who is not among the bidders, with both MGM Resorts saying it would likely pass in April and Caesars Entertainment CEO Tom Reeg expressing “no interest” in bidding during its earnings conference call Tuesday.
— Chris Altruda
More of the top stories of the week
Do me a favor Carl, run and figure out which books are taking $20k on the app on the HOF game tonight.
Carl: uh just Circa Sports sir
Get the hell out of my sight Carl!!!!
— Matthew Metcalf (@MMpact) August 5, 2021
TRENDING: Slot play, rising occupancy rates help fuel MGM Resorts’ Q2 results [LVRJ]
EMPEROR: Caesars Entertainment 2Q report adds digital reporting, touts post-pandemic gains [CDC Gaming]
KEEPING UP WITH JONESES: DraftKings has joined the “same game parlay” party
NON-PROFIT: Revenue surges but losses remain heavy as DraftKings posts Q2 update [SBC]
UP UP AND AWAY: Nevada sportsbooks headed toward record year [NV-BW]
EXPLAINER: How leagues investigate gambling allegations [AP]
RAISING ARIZONA: TwinSpires gains market access there, too [SBC]
AFTER EXCLUSIVITY: In Arizona, fund helps tribes without sports betting licenses [AZ Cap-Times]
ALL IN: Sports media at large pushes chips on sports betting [CJR]
Have a good weekend, folks!