I have spent an appreciable amount of time on a casino floor. It started with dealing cards and dice at night while I attended college. After college, I progressed through the roles of box person, floor person, pit boss, shift boss, casino manager, and executive vice president of casino operations.
Even as a CEO, I spent a lot of time in the casino. I felt comfortable there. It is where my peeps were. I also wanted to keep an eye on things, as much of the casino business, after all, is people watching people watching people.
One of the realities of a casino is that they are hard to protect. There are a million ways that money can slip out the door. Many people know of one of the obvious efforts to protect things — the surveillance system. There are hundreds of cameras in a modern casino, many focused on keeping the bankroll inside the building. There are also audits, compliance checks, RFID tags, tracking systems, access controls, and a whole array of additional ways to work to protect the bankroll.
I suspect all of those things are important, if for no reason other than as a deterrent. The cameras are really handy for figuring out what happened after it happened. But the most common way I found I had a problem in the casino was by someone telling me I had a problem in the casino.
Word of mouth, around the world
For a variety of reasons, people would tell me things. It may have been someone whom I had put to work in the casino, somebody who just noticed something, a jilted lover of somebody working a scam, someone with a vendetta, or one of various other sources. And some people would tell me things they may have noticed or suspected just because they felt it was the right thing to do. That was one of the main reasons I would hang out on the casino floor, for people would know I would be around and always ready to talk.
Based on my real-life appreciation of the importance of having people provide confidential tips about what was happening in casinos with which I was affiliated, I have often argued that regulatory agencies could do a much better job of designing processes for confidential tip lines. They also need to better market these processes. Generally, they have tip lines, but they do a piss-poor job managing them. One must remember that regulatory agencies are bureaucracies, and they often act like it.
Protecting a casino sometimes overwhelmed me. I then met Matthew Holt, the founder and president of U.S. Integrity. What Matt is up to is one of the first things stated on the U.S. Integrity website: “At U.S. Integrity, our goal is to help ensure that every sporting competition is fair and transparent.” While my concerns in a casino ended at the four walls of the building, Matt’s responsibility ends at the four corners of the earth. That is a very big casino.
He does seem up to the challenge, however.
Matt is a very unusual character in the modern betting scene in that he really knows betting. He cut his teeth working in a most interesting and unusual betting environment, Cantor Gaming. Cantor was not for the faint of heart or the slow learners. He left Cantor in 2018 and founded U.S. Integrity. It was a great move for him and a great get for the sports betting industry.
Now he sits in an office in Henderson, Nevada, and works to control the integrity of sports, a domain with millions of moving parts that all seem potentially relevant at any minute of the day or night.
As Matt and I were talking about the complexity and enormity of his job, he provided these statistics: Since 2020, in men’s college hoops and college football, if a team is materially late in arriving at the venue — thus precluding the normal time for stretching and warmups by the players — the statistics for the late team are:
- 0-13 Straight up
- 0-13 First half against the spread
- 0-13 Against the spread
So, there you have it. Want to shape a line? All a person has to do is interfere with the logistics of transporting the team. Or, if you have the inside scoop that there is a transportation glitch, then log on to your phone and load up on the home team. Then again, this could all be spurious. This kind of work is never easy.
And it goes on and on. When one looks at the myriad of data and details that need to be collected and analyzed to oversee the sports betting world, the task is overwhelming. That is why the people overseeing all of this must be smart. And U.S. Integrity recently teamed up with RealResponse to do something very smart.
Reaching out via RealResponse
🚨 Introducing the U.S. Integrity Tip Line! Report anonymously without fear of retaliation. Our confidential tip line is here to address concerns like physical threats, emotional abuse, and more. Text tips to 843-USI-TIPS powered by @RealResponseHQ. https://t.co/AYMqr2sWoJ
— U.S. Integrity (@USintegrity) May 26, 2023
On May 11, U.S. Integrity announced a collaboration with RealResponse for Athlete Alert Powered by RealResponse. What is being offered is an anonymous tip line for use by professional and college athletes, coaches, trainers, and support staff to report issues of importance regarding corruption and integrity in sports. Going beyond that, the tip line also encourages reporting “physical threats, harm, and/or emotional abuse by fans related to gambling.”
I think this is brilliant. When Matt Holt found himself in a situation of needing to track millions of variables in faraway places, he knew he would need help. So, what he did was he enlisted the help of professional and college sporting communities across the country. Brilliant.
Matt has realized that to do his job, it takes a community, and he now has the support of a very large community brought to him by RealResponse.
The program put together by U.S. Integrity and RealResponse has one remaining challenge — and that is to get the word out. The issue of sports integrity and corruption affects the entire sports betting ecosystem, be it operators, payment processors, regulators, the problem gambling folks, the lobbyists, and beyond.
For that reason, the whole betting ecosystem is interested in seeing an increased awareness of the Athlete Alert Powered by RealResponse tipline. They should probably get busy helping Matt spread the word.