North America has a responsible gambling problem. Increased sports-betting is going to make it much worse. I just came back from the ICRG Conference on Addiction and Responsible Gambling held in Las Vegas and I blame academics, regulators, and corporations for the problems.
The primary issue is talk of “responsible, sustainable gambling” is nice, but achieving it, like achieving environmental sustainability is difficult and costs lots of money. Whenever it’s easy to pay lip-service and hard to accomplish something, researchers, bureaucrats and opportunistic companies benefit, and the people with the actual problems suffer.
On the research front, I heard a leading academic explain that a “big win” was defined as a 10x payout on your sports bet. That type of win, early in your betting career could lead to problem gambling. As a sports betting expert (see bio below this article for proof) I wonder if this academic understands bettors and parlays. For example, if a new casual bettor were to bet fifteen different four team parlays over a weekend, each paying 12x their money, they’d achieve the academics “10x payout” on a bet, yet lose money on the weekend – would this be a “big win”? The divide between university research and reality is a problem.
But the biggest problem is that regulators have no sports-betting experience and defer to operators who are shrewd and out to maximize profits. Regulators do not hire sports-betting experts. Famed Las Vegas linemaker Roxborough use to say that sharp bettors are smarter than the best operators, but even the dumbest operators were smarter than regulators. Many regulators in the gaming space prohibit their employees from gambling in any form, thus ensuring they are coming into the gaming business with zero real world experience on the topics they are regulating. They then rely on savvy operators for advice and guidance. Operators spend big money on a VP of Responsible Gambling like corporations who have fifty year track records of discrimination and harassment have their VP of Social Equity. A very well respected VP from a huge corporation was challenge by me at the conference to share self excluders with rival large casinos or to create a mechanism whereby a self excluder could ask that you share the information with competitors. The VP hid behind regulators and privacy and then his rival company executive explained to me that they’ve tried in vain to work together for years with this company but have been stonewalled. The goal for the company is to maximize profits while virtual signalling.
The UK is way ahead of North America when it comes to legal sports-betting and they’ve banned credit cards for funding accounts to reduce problem gambling. They’ve also banned the use of celebrity advertising. In Ontario, almost every ad for gambling is a celebrity (because they banned advertising promotions or product value).
The good news for sports-betting problem gambling – unlike most other problems, this one predominantly affects affluent males. Like opioids, when issues arise with the nice 25 year old boy living in your suburb, they tend to get resolved rather briskly. Shame on the operators, regulators, and academics for doing nothing about this inevitable freight train coming around the bend.
Harley Redlick is a successful sports bettor and media personality with a passion for improving knowledge in the sports betting space. He runs his own website www.sharpedgepicks.com with value betting analysis and does a weekly podcast with Jorey Middlestadt, a legend of Toronto sports radio where he provides picks and explains betting concepts to “sharps, squares, and newbies”. Harley has been limited (virtually cutoff) by a number of sportsbooks for winning too much and cashed millions in prize money wagering against the OLG (Ontario Lottery). He has a law degree from Osgoode Hall and an MBA from Rotman. Harley co-created and served as Co-Program Director for the Osgoode Hall Professional Development Gaming Law certificate and lectured on sports betting for the program and then served as an Adjunct Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School where he co-taught Gambling Law. He has written for Yardbarker and Sun Media on issues related to sports betting and published a case study on successful betting arbitrage for the Ivey School of business. Harley was a panelist at the inaugural Betting on Sports in America conference, sat on the Canadian Gaming Summit’s sports betting panel twice and at SIMGA’s last Canada conference. He has served as a guest on air expert for TSN Edge, CFRB news, Doyle’s Guaranteed Money, and Roger’s Inside the Lines. His twitter handle is @sharpedgepicks