I keep a file in my Google Docs that is titled “NBA FanDuel.”
It’s titled that because it was the first entry when I decided to start keeping track of my daily fantasy sports wagers. Then it expanded for all of DFS, then sports betting, then … well, eventually it collapsed all upon itself. At this point, all I’m keeping track of is how much money is going into gambling sites, and how much is coming out. For a while I kept track by site, but that was pointless.
Outside of being in the black (#humblebrag, though mostly it’s because of an insane one-week DFS run on DraftKings a few years back and sucking the meat off the sportsbook promo bone), I have no idea if DFS is my game, or sports betting. If it’s football player props, or Korean baseball.
Of course, there are ways to combat this. There are apps (for a fee) that manage this kind of stuff, or I could finally learn how to use Excel (despite what it said on my post-college resumes) and track all my bets.
But I’m not going to do that. Partly because this is just a hobby, mostly because I’m lazy.
Obviously, I’m not doing this right. And even more honestly — if I were losing money on all this, if I’d never had that one-week run — I probably would just stop keeping track if I started. Seeing my ledger turn red would be … unpleasant to the eye, damaging to the psyche.
And heaven knows the sportsbooks aren’t exactly keen on letting their players know how deep into the red they are.
Which is why I applaud a new rule instituted in Australia: Sportsbooks now need to send out monthly statements to their customers.
Gambling companies keep people in the dark about how much they have really lost. In Australia, gambling companies will now have to send a monthly statement to anyone who has placed a bet detailing their wins and losses. pic.twitter.com/YhqqqjJKdT
— Stop Predatory Gambling (@SPGambling) August 2, 2022
Sure, I could ignore the email or toss the letter in the trash, but … I wouldn’t. I mean, I open up those 401(k) statements when they come, even when I know it’s going to create a pit in my stomach.
Canary in the coal mine
Modest proposal: American sportsbook operators should immediately — and willingly — take this on. Australia, the UK, and many other European countries are the very obvious canaries in the coal mine, having allowed online sports betting for decades.
And these canaries are coming out smudgy.
The UK is currently reviewing all gambling laws. Italy banned gambling advertising. Now Australia is mandating these monthly statements.
We may have to take a lesson from our European gambling friends as the NFL and other sports climb in bed with sports betting. Italy just banned gambling ads. Does football have a gambling problem? https://t.co/Ro6yY2pii6 @reviewjournal
— Lisa Mayo-DeRiso (@LMDLasVegas) September 19, 2018
And while sports betting in America is a state-by-state affair, is it so far-fetched to see a reactionary state legislature stepping in to dramatically curtail the forward progress of the industry if there’s some high-profile trouble?
AGA, no way
Keith Whyte, the executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, thinks the sportsbooks would be doing themselves a favor when it comes to future profits.
“This is all part of using the data operators collect to actively encourage responsible gambling by creating a more informed consumer that is more sustainable and has higher lifetime value,” Whyte said.
Plenty of gamblers would also find this a swell idea.
“I really like it,” said Capt. Jack Andrews, a professional bettor. “Beyond the responsible gaming aspects of it, it is more numbers to people who are literally playing a numbers game. All sports bettors, regardless of skill level, should want to know how they’re performing.”
But the American Gaming Association? Not exactly keen on the notion.
“The U.S. is a global leader in responsible gaming. Rather than reacting to consumer or regulatory scrutiny, the American gaming industry has made RG a fundamental and foundational element to our entertainment offerings from brick-and-mortar casinos to sports betting apps,” said Cait DeBaun, AGA vice president of strategic communications and responsibility, in an emailed statement.
“The U.S. is still a relatively young legal sports betting market, and there is a lot we can continue to learn from more mature gaming jurisdictions. The market will continue to mature, and as innovative businesses, our responsible gaming tools will, too. However, with 37 legal markets and counting, it will remain important to consider what works for each unique, legal sports betting jurisdiction.”
Not a big ask
Some sportsbooks are more forthcoming than others when it comes to trying to figure out profit/loss.
FanDuel, as it happens, stands out as a leader. Just tap “account balance” and scroll down and there it is: total amount of money wagered, total amount of money won. It’s not broken down by anything, and combines DFS, sports betting, and casino, but still: It’s something.
Other sites aren’t so easy. Or available.
It really would be awesome if the sportsbooks just handed over the information they already have. Sure, it would be a positive development toward responsible gambling, and yeah, it’s important to know how you’re doing, but of all the reasons I can think of, the most obvious one is this: It would be a show of transparency to customers in an industry that is more opaque than a soaped-up window on a foggy Venus morning.
Literally: Just give us the information you already have on our betting habits. As far as asks go, this is about as small as it gets.