What Should the Media Do With Big Money Bets?

Written by:
Alejandro Botticelli
Published on:

The reporting of “big” bets has become a controversial topic lately, writes Vik Chokshi of Barrett Sports Media.

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Ben Fawkes of VSiN discussed the subject with Chokshi, who notes that there is a flipside to the glamourous click bate with the risk of leading new bettors to misguided perceptions about gambling.

"I think that as journalists, once we verify to the best of our ability that the bet is real, it’s our job to report newsworthy bets," Fawkes said.

Pro sports bettor Jack Andrews, who goes by the moniker of "Captain Jack" on Twitter, says he is not necessarily opposed to the reporting of these big bets, but draws the line when it comes to encouraging or highlighting bad betting behavior.

"So while your standard NFL wager on a team to win a game might have a 4% house edge, a 3-team parlay on three futures wagers has a significantly higher cost. I’d hate to see people tail that bet blindly because they think someone else is “smart enough” to wager $3 million on it."

Chokshi points to the promotion of the 10-team parlay that has a very low probability of hitting.

"The encouragement for recreational bettors to treat sports wagering as a lottery ticket is a bad path to lead someone down," Captain Jack acknowledges. "That’s what we’re seeing with these 10-team parlay winners. The fact that a pretty simple post I made about parlay math went viral (over 2 million “impressions” or views) shows two things. One, that people are fascinated by the general idea of big wagers. Two, that enough people didn’t understand the price being paid by the bettor and immediately sought to share it with everyone they know. Tired information doesn’t spread like that – new information does."

One of the leading culprits: Darren Rovell of the popular Action Network.

On Monday night, Rovell tweeted out: "$1.487 Million Bettor Survives MNF Scare, Profits $446K on Saints Comeback Win".

Rovell remains unapologetic.

"I will continue to cover big bets made at legal sportsbooks. While a vocal minority complain they lack context, these bets are some of the most engaged with stories on our website & app. They comfort those who lost less and provide others with a reason to root for/against a team."

Rovell's tweet drew the ire of some in the sports betting community.

Westicle tweeted:

"Thank you Darrell!!! We would hate for you to do anything other than admit you write simply for clickbait as opposed to, say, anything resembling journalistic integrity".

Montreal Max responded:

"I doubt the guy losing a nickel that means alot to his BR is "comforted" because some anonymous hedge fund dude blew $100K on the same side."

David Purdum regularly covers big bets taken at various sportsbooks for sports media powerhouse ESPN.

Purdum reported on one such bet taken the week prior by Draftkings: $3 million on a three-team futures parlay

"If successful, this bet would pay out $8.6 million, a $5.6 million net profit for the customer," Purdum reported.

"It's the largest parlay bet that Johnny Avello, DraftKings' sportsbook director and a 30-plus-year Nevada bookmaker, has ever taken. And it's certainly among the biggest ever placed with a U.S. sportsbook."

"I think that in a Twitter-driven world there is always going to be criticism," Fawkes commented when asked about criticism that media members receive for reporting these bets. "Ultimately, we’re putting out information and people can choose to use it as they see fit. If they want to ignore it, that’s also fine. If we put out how much money an NFL side is getting in a game, people could complain that it’s only at one book … or in one state. The sports betting market has become increasingly complex to cover."

Captain Jack added: "I don’t think the media is at fault for reporting big wagers. However, the media does have a responsibility to inform their readers/viewers. Now this doesn’t need to come in the form of a bold-type disclaimer with every tweet. However, infrequent references to the actual house edge and probability would go a long way."

- Alejandro Botticelli, Gambling911.com

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