Flash back to 2009. Online poker rooms like PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker were money machines. Cash was falling from the sky. Stakes were constantly rising. You could feel the excitement.
You had the high-stakes “nosebleed” games rolling daily. Ivey. Durrrrr. Hansen. Isildur1. Jungleman. Antonius.
High-stakes action and crazy bets were an integral part of the fabric of online poker culture. It sprung up its own cottage industry of content and reporting.
The wagering didn’t stop at the felt. It was part of the life, and part of what made poker a fun ride on the zeitgeist.
Are we on the precipice of seeing the same with sports betting?
An appetite for betting content
If you haven’t already been reading David Purdum at ESPN for the past few years, you should start now.
Along with solid journalism around the sports betting industry, Purdum is increasingly reporting more on actual bets being made with various sportsbooks. Some gems from this week’s column:
- At the MGM in Nevada, someone placed multiple six-figure wagers on the Saints point spread and moneyline. It was the largest single-game loss for the casino this season.
- Another place that took a hit from the Saints was the Harrah’s Gulf Coast in Biloxi, MS. They took in more action on the Falcons-Saints than any other game, and it’s pro-New Orleans crowd.
- The Westgate took a $50,000 bet on the Rams at 7-2 to win the Super Bowl.
- Someone [who hates money] bet $50,000 on the Browns to win the AFC at 50-1.
As sports betting proliferates to more states, the odds are, you’re going to hear about more bets. In particular, you’ll read about more of the random 16-game parlay that an Average Joe in Mississippi hit that changed his / her life. There’s “Moneymaker Effect” wagers out there every week. The more that hit, the more that get reported, the more that will come in. It’s a self-sustaining cycle of betting awesomeness.
We’re just at the tip of the iceberg.
The content tree is growing
Brent Musburger is a damn prophet for launching VSiN when he did. Half the battle in business is timing, and he nailed it.
Branches on the sports betting content tree are quickly growing.
Fox Sports is investing in gambling programming, launching Lock It In with “Cousin Sal” Iacono of Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Ringer fame.
Cousin Sal is actually everywhere in the sports betting world. He’s got a podcast on The Ringer (Against All Odds) and is going to be a regular on Colin Cowherd’s Fox Sports radio show and podcast. And speaking of Cowherd’s Fox Sports radio show and podcast, his most downloaded and listened to segment each week is his “Blazing Five” NFL picks. The picks and wise-guy analysis of the picks make up about half of his 3-hour Friday show.
We’re already seeing the net effect of “bigger, more interesting bets” with Cowherd too, who just placed (and won) his largest wager last week (a four-figure bet), milking it for a programming draw.
All of this is a far cry from Wayne Allen Root tout shows and Internet TV-only Wager Wars.
Where does it go from here?
First, sports betting is going mainstream. Unlike online poker, which had an expiring shelf life (and was on the decline even before Black Friday), sports betting content has staying power in the U.S. This is only going to gain steam as the industry matures and its audience grows.
And with reporting of actual wagering on the rise, the bets themselves are only going to grow and get more interesting.
TV programming on what to bet on is already getting greenlit. It’ll start on basic “how to bet” programming like Lock It In and quickly move towards more daring I Bet You style shows. Jackass was entertaining. Imagine how much more fun it’d have been if there was money riding on it? And you could participate on it in real time? That’s the direction this will move, with reporting around those wagers sustaining the beast.
Expect the types of bets to get crazier. The amounts to rise. The reporting to increase.
It’s all happening already. This is just the start.