We’re seeing a disturbing trend start to emerge; the proliferation of docudramas, movies, and articles that lead to sensationalizing dishonest personalities within the sports betting industry. The media consciously chooses to validate the wrong personalities, creating an aura around characters that are no better than modern day Carnies. From erroneous stories about Floyd Mayweather’s obscene wagers to promoting individuals who don’t actually understand the business of betting nor actually bet themselves, the industry can’t move forward if portrayed in the current form.
Over the weekend I came to learn of a new primetime reality show called Money Talks that will feature handicapper Steve Stevens who runs VIP Sports in Las Vegas. There’s a laundry list of problems here but before I go off on my rant let me start with the most glaring of them all: CNBC calls this handicapper well known. Yet, oddly enough no one, and I mean no one, in the sports betting community I speak with daily knows who this guy is. Before I get myself worked into a lather, here’s a nice little video to keep you entertained; the sizzle real from this “legendary” handicapper.
Where do I start? There are so many things about this video that crack me up but nothing more galling than Stevens calling himself the “Michael Jordan of sports handicapping” by promising clients he’ll hit 70% + (a number even the computer group couldn’t achieve in its prime). However, I have to be honest and say my biggest problem with this entire concept isn’t actually with Stevens. When the day’s done, he’s trying to run a successful business taking advantage of the publicity afforded to him by a major news outlet to maximize revenues. My disgust with the topic runs deeper and is with the supposedly reputable network for their half baked attempt to do appropriate research on the featured personality. Did they talk to respected voices in the field? Did they reach out to actual sportsbook operators? Did they track Stevens for at least two seasons to see if his claims were warranted before giving him his own show? I obviously can’t speak for the producers but gut says they bought the bill of goods that was sold to them and ran with it. (Prop bet is actually -400 “No, they didn’t do enough homework”)
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” No, this isn’t Shakespeare type prose but am I the only one that still has a problem with a business where “leading figures” don’t use their real names? I have absolutely no issues with pick selling as a means of making money for those select few that run their business with transparency and integrity. Now, should there be certification required to handle people’s money like we see with financial advisors; well I tend to think so even though it won’t happen anytime soon. Can you imagine going to your stock broker and cutting him a check for a large sum of money without knowing his real name, background, or being able to verify his credentials? Yet this is exactly what goes on everyday in the sports betting community largely from an uninformed general public relying on the media’s portrayal of “reputable” handicappers. It’s always made me wonder why certain personalities claiming to be the best in their profession need to resort to stage names if they’re long term winners. (Cue the 2 for the Money references here).
Journalism is built on identifying credible sources that can talk knowledgeably about a topic, not about creating dog and pony shows. For me sports betting should be held to the exact same standard as every other topic that’s newsworthy. I’m cognizant of the fact that everyone prefers an artfully told story rather than the sometimes boring truth. However, facts are facts and those of us who make our living in this field need to band together making a more concerted effort to highlight personalities capable of moving the entire industry forward, not setting us back. This isn’t a call to action for the consumer; it’s a cry for help to the media to change their coverage of the entire sports betting industry.
(You want to learn about a real gambler that everyone in the industry knows and fears? Watch this video)