Category Archives: Bet On It

Inflation and the price of sausage

I don’t doubt the sincerity of those of you who are strongly opposed to player compensation.  What I do doubt at times, though, is the willingness to take stock of how much money is sloshing around P5 college sports these days.  It’s crazy.  Take this example:

Ever since sports betting has been legalized in many states throughout the U.S., the SEC has been one of the industry’s largest beneficiaries, according to commissioner Greg Sankey.

Sankey, in a recent appearance on The Paul Finebaum Show, explained that the SEC has amassed an incredible amount of attention through the sports gambling space, with the total amount wagered on conference games turning in an incredible number.

“We’ve actually looked through statistics of what’s been wagered on Southeastern Conference games and it’s enormous,” Sankey said. “Nearly $2 billion through the fall.”

That number, of course, would exclude the greater part of SEC basketball season, as Finebaum said that the near-$2 billion total was only what was measured through the fall season.

Nearly $2 billion!  In a third of a year!  And that’s a mere revenue sideline for schools (or at least it is presently).  Sheesh.

It’s one thing to believe that players in the ’70s and ’80s were happy with a scholarship and free room and board.  That was an era when coaches routinely were paid in the five figures and athletic programs made do on a lot less revenue.  It’s another to think that players’ attitudes don’t change in the face of a revenue tsunami.  Clearly, coaches, administrators, college presidents and conference commissioners have all changed with the times.  “The times” in this case being the outsized emphasis we as a society put on the price of entertainment.

Ah, if only college athletes were as big amateurism romantics as some college fans are…



Filed under Bet On It, SEC Football, The NCAA

Your winnings, sir.

Talk about sending a mixed message

In what is being billed as the first deal of its kind in the NCAA, the Mid-American Conference has signed a statistical data partnership and sponsorship agreement with Genius Sports, the league announced Wednesday.

The five-year agreement gives Genius Sports the rights to manage and market the stats for all sports in the conference. And it requires sports betting companies to pay for the MAC’s data if they want official statistics in real time, which are used to help set their betting lines.

As stances go, “kids, don’t bet on football; also, don’t pay attention to what we’re doing with gamblers for money” is certainly one of them, albeit not exactly a coherent one.

Eh?  What’s that, you say?  Oh, that never occurred to them.

All five states within the MAC (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio) have legalized sports wagering — the only FBS league with that status — but commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said the conference didn’t form the partnership to promote betting.

It just so happens that the deal is structured to require sports betting companies to pay for the data. What a lucky coincidence for you, Jon.

“We’re doing this to control our data, which ends up in the public domain anyway,” Steinbrecher told ESPN. “We want to manage that asset. We want that asset to provide value back to our institutions so that we can support our student-athletes, plain and simple.”

And there’s your tell — the “doing it for the kids” justification.  That’s how you know a conference commissioner’s taking a noble position on a matter.

There has been a perception in college athletics that NCAA rules prohibit selling statistical data to a sports wagering entity, but the MAC contends that’s not the case.

“We are of the opinion that the deal we’re entering into is consistent with NCAA rules and regulations,” Steinbrecher said.

In today’s college athletics, perceptions are fine as long as they don’t cost anything.


Filed under Bet On It, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major, It's Just Bidness

All in

The walls, they keep tumbling.

LSU athletics and Caesars Sportsbook on Friday announced a multi-year partnership, creating the first deal between a Southeastern Conference school and a sports betting company.

… Caesars Sportsbook will receive naming rights for the new Caesars Sportsbook Skyline Club at Tiger Stadium, signage throughout Tiger Stadium beginning on Saturday for LSU’s game against Central Michigan, plus additional signage at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, Alex Box Stadium and on the LSU Sports Mobile App.

“LSU has always taken pride in providing fans with unique, innovative, and world-class experiences, and our new partnership with Caesars Entertainment will do just that,” said LSU athletic director Scott Woodward in a written statement. “We share a clear vision of how athletics and entertainment can come together to enhance the fan experience and we are excited to join with Caesars to make that vision a reality.”

I will give Woodward credit for not invoking the kids there.  But there’s only so far he could go, I guess.

The announcement says the deal focuses on “unique alumni and fan engagement opportunities while expanding responsible sports gaming and education.”

Yes, because the first thing you think of when you hear the phrase “responsible sports gaming” is education.  Way to go, LSU.


Filed under Bet On It, SEC Football

Just haggling over the fee

This would be funny if it weren’t so inevitable.

In January 2019, in front of hundreds of college sports administrators and executives at the NCAA’s annual convention in Orlando, Mark Emmert made a prediction about the impact of sports betting on the college athletics world.

It will “threaten the integrity of college sports,” he told the crowd before him.

Less than three years later, sports betting has become the new frontier in college sports—a previously shunned category now being accepted in an industry that long leaned on archaic amateurism principles.

In the latest such evidence, the Fiesta Bowl is partnering with Caesars Entertainment, the Nevada-based gambling company, in what is believed to be the first sports betting and fantasy gaming alliance between a college football bowl game and a gambling property.

In today’s college athletics, the only thing with a better winning record than Nick Saban is money.


Filed under Bet On It

“That’s how big this thing is going to be.”

Wanna know what town is pulling in more money on sports gambling on any given day than the entire state of Nevada, with much of that coming from the parking lots of three Starbucks coffee shops near highway exit ramps?  Read this.

“I was talking to an [NBA] owner who told me in three-to-five years, we will not even need the TV money. That’s how big this thing is going to be,” Charles Barkley said to…

The only question is when, not if, college football embraces the dark side.  There’s too much money.


Filed under Bet On It

“… the safety of amateur athletes to protect them against exploitation.”

Today, in doing it for the kids:

An NCAA official voiced concern Thursday over sports betting on the performance of individual student-athletes and suggested that gambling regulators consider restrictions on such wagers to protect the integrity of the games.

Speaking at the Sports Betting USA 2020 online seminar, Naima Stevenson-Starks, the NCAA’s vice president for law, policy and governance, expressed concern about prop bets involving college athletes. This type of bet concerns whether a player will or won’t surpass a certain threshold during a game, like whether a quarterback will throw three touchdowns or whether a running back will rush for 100 yards.

“Unlike the professional leagues, we are now talking about student-athletes attending class with people who may be betting on their efforts on the field or the court,” Stevenson-Starks said. “That’s a concern. If you can think about missing a field goal or a free throw that might make the difference in a result, that’s not the most settling thought.”

I might take her concern more seriously if it weren’t for her member institutions making deals “centered around education”.


Filed under Bet On It, The NCAA

Today, in strategic partnerships

Honestly, I don’t know how they expect Mark Emmert to keep a straight face at the next Congressional hearing.

The University of Colorado has signed a deal with PointsBet to serve as an official sports betting partner in a major step to dismantling college sports’ decades-long aversion to gambling.

The Boulder-based school has a new five-year deal with the betting operator, which is building its U.S. headquarters in nearby Denver. Legal sports betting went live in Colorado in May, and partnering with the state’s biggest athletic department is a way for PointsBet to separate itself from the sports books currently taking bets there.

It is among the first—and likely the most in-depth—partnerships between an athletic department and a sports betting operator. William Hill, for example, has been advertising with the University of Nevada Las-Vegas and University of Nevada Reno since 2017, the company said.

The PointsBet deal, which covers sports betting, fantasy sports, casino games and free-to-play contests, was negotiated by Colorado’s commercial partner Learfield IMG College. PointsBet will have signs placed at the school’s football stadium and basketball arena, plus a presence on radio broadcasts and other media. It also includes career development opportunities for Colorado students.

Yeah, I’d say that’s well on the way to dismantling a gambling aversion.  When should we expect to see an in-stadium sports book?

And this may be the most cynical quote of 2020 (there’s some pretty stiff competition, too):

“This isn’t a deal just to get PR, this is a long-term view for both parties, and both parties had to get very comfortable with one another,” Johnny Aitken, CEO of PointsBet’s U.S. business, said in an interview. “It is centered around education and those career pathways, and being in-state, the trust factor is heightened because we’re just miles away, not a plane flight away.”

“It is centered around education”?  Dude, I think you misspelled “money”.


Filed under Bet On It, It's Just Bidness

I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

Meet the next Georgia gold rush.

Four of Atlanta’s major professional sports franchises are putting their weight behind an effort to allow betting on games.

Presidents of the Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta United have formed the Georgia Professional Sports Integrity Alliance and sent a letter to state lawmakers asking them to legalize online and mobile sports betting…

Billy Linville, a lobbyist who is representing the coalition of teams, said the franchises would not see any revenue from sports betting, but that allowing the practice would engage fans who tune in to watch and see how their bets play out — driving up viewership and interest in the games.

“The question isn’t if Georgians are going to bet on sports,” Linville said. “It’s whether they’ll wager in an illegal market or bet in a fully regulated environment that protects consumers and integrity of games.”

These guys are so thoughtful, amirite?

If you’re wondering why I post about this, don’t think Butts-Mehre isn’t watching this development with a careful eye, not because they’re concerned about stopping it (although that would be in line with the Georgia Way we all know and love, especially if they could figure out a way to allow only Magill Society folks to bet in Sanford Stadium… I keed, I keed.  I think.), but because of the potential revenue streams flowing from legalized online betting.

But West Virginia’s Joint Standing Committee on Finance spent most of its time Monday trying to figure out whether Governor Jim Justice – who owns the Greenbrier – and West Virginia Lottery officials were still pushing plans to offer the major sports leagues a cut of the state’s betting handle or require betting operators to use league-supplied data to judge wagering results[Emphasis added.]

Ah, the ol’ “integrity fee”, surely one of the great Orwellian phrases of our time, and/or making it a legal requirement to use official conference statistics in online wagering.  Expect the latter to be a standard proposal in the South once Greg Sankey is able to get up off his fainting couch.

These people may not be geniuses, but they’re certainly shrewd enough to know how not to miss many meals.  It’s coming.


Filed under Bet On It, Political Wankery

A stupid and futile gesture

Good luck on enforcing this, Purdue.

On Thursday, the Board of Trustees of the West Lafayette-based public university approved the adoption of a so-called “sports wagering policy.” The policy applies to all faculty, staff and non-athlete students (Purdue’s student-athletes and coaches, like those at other colleges, are already barred from betting on sports by NCAA rules). Purdue’s new policy expressly prohibits gambling on sporting events involving Purdue teams, coaches or student-athletes. It governs wagers made in person as well as bets made online and through mobile technologies.

The university’s statement does not offer reasoning behind the policy’s adoption.

Reasoning?  There was reasoning?

I cannot even begin to list all the difficulties that surround this policy.  How in the world does the school plan to track wagering in all its different forms?  And how does it plan to punish people who engage in a legal activity?


Filed under Bet On It

Coming soon, to a stadium near you

How ’bout this as the ultimate fan friendly experience — on-site betting?  Talk about a whole new set of wallets to fleece… what’s that, you say?  No way anything like that ever sees the light of day in the Bible Belt?  Um, not so fast, my friend.

Senators will get the first crack at sports betting. The initial meeting will occur Tuesday in the offices of the Georgia Lottery Commission. It is a second, post-Labor Day hearing that will bear closer watching.

That will happen at SunTrust Park, home of the Atlanta Braves. The proposed witness list is impressive: Derek Schiller, president of business for the Braves; Rich McKay, president and CEO of the Atlanta Falcons; and Steve Koonin, CEO of the Atlanta Hawks. (We reached out to all three organizations, which declined comment.)

“They will come talk about it, and explain how it might work,” Beach said. “What they’re trying to do is drive attendance. The fans want it. The franchises need it.”  [Emphasis added.]

In researching this column, a skeptical GOP leader told us that the push to expand gambling in Georgia has always lacked the voices of “local people of influence.” Atlanta’s three largest pro sport franchises might fill that gap.

Their argument is that high-definition television has made sports enthusiasts far too comfortable in their living rooms. On-site betting would be a new way of keeping ticket-holders engaged and in paying seats.

The Tennessee online-only example offers an alternative to those opposed to casino gaming, fearful that brick-and-mortar operations serve as hubs for sex-trafficking and other bad behavior.

Participants will be able to place bets on smart phones from any location, whether stadiums or sports bars or home. “Geo-fencing” will allow Tennessee to require that bets be placed only by those inside the state.

Those same digital fences could be made much smaller in a Georgia version, perhaps restricting bettors to Phillips Arena, SunTrust Park and Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Those brick-and-mortar casinos wouldn’t have to be build. They would already be an established part of the landscape.

“Okay,” you say, “fine, that’s the pros”.  No way that trickles down to the college level…

We understand that sports betting has some support from local metro Atlanta interests who hope a portion of the revenue might be applied toward the ballooning expenses associated with hosting such major events as the Super Bowl or the NCAA Final Four.

There’s a fine line between covering expenses and looking for a more direct path for coming up with money to cover those expenses.  Perhaps all it’ll take one day is Kirby Smart explaining to the Georgia legislature that their vote is needed to help Georgia win a natty to do the heavy lifting to get this across the finish line.  How many gamblers do you figure would like to join the Magill Society?

Maybe I kid, maybe not.  All I know is that if there’s enough political cover for it, nobody’s turning down new money.


Filed under Bet On It, Georgia Football, Political Wankery