Connect with us

Sports Betting

Rovell’s Move to The Action Network Over 20 Years in the Making

In his new role, Rovell will find himself in an executive position for the first time in his career.

Adam White

Published

on

Rovell - Darren - Action Network - ESPN

You may love him, you may hate him, but there is no denying what Darren Rovell has been able to do for the sports business industry.

Not one to let trends or hot topics pass him by, Rovell’s move to The Action Network is part living out a passion and part wanting to get in on the action (no pun intended) as to what he believes is an area of the industry that will cause the most positive disruption for the foreseeable future.

“Living in New Jersey, you can’t ignore the impact of the sports betting industry. On the NJ Transit trains alone, I’ve seen three to four different book operators advertising. I’ve even had a chance to download up to eight apps on my phone which has given me a good peak into what this thing will look like at maturity.”

This isn’t the first time in which Rovell will turn his focus to sports betting content. While a sophomore at Northwestern in 1997, he saw piles of the Northwestern Chronicle, the weekly school newspaper, all over campus.

Sensing an opportunity to do something differently, he took over the sports section of the paper and turned it into a section devoted entirely to sports betting.

“No one read it (the Northwestern Chronicle) and my strategy was to change the sports section into only sports betting. Instead of other commentary, I put together a two-page spread of my picks of the week. While I was thinking more of a sports business at the time, I was very well aware of how popular sports gambling was and how it had the ability to draw people in.”

A look at his picks of the week section from his time at Northwestern. (Photo via Darren Rovell)

Like most people, leaving a good job at a company that likely isn’t going anywhere anytime soon can be tough.

For Rovell, making the move from ESPN was aided by the fact that the company’s leadership was willing to let him out of his deal, along with the fact that Chad Millman, his former boss at ESPN, had already made the move to the sports betting startup.

“Chad took the risk of going over before the repeal of PASPA and I know I wouldn’t have made the move if PASPA hadn’t been struck down by the Supreme Court. The executives who are there currently gave me faith in the product, plus with the Chernin Group being majority owners in the business and being known for best practices in the space, it was easier to believe in the company, which is key for anyone moving to a startup.”

Finding himself in an executive position for the first time, and having an equity stake in the company, Rovell will have a larger impact on the overall direction of the content being created.

The end goal? Become the number one editorial company in the business of sports betting and a very large company within the next two – five years.

Although a change of company, there won’t be much of a change from Rovell, who will still cover the sports business industry and put out content that gets people talking.

Some of that content will come from a collaboration with Big Cat, something that Rovell said will happen “sooner rather than later.”

“It will be relatively early. I will finally go on Pardon My Take.”

Going on Pardon My Take will likely be just the beginning, as Rovell pointed to the two potentially competing in a decathlon with all of the benefits going to a charity. 

“I think we will do some sort of decathlon. I think we could do a lot of PPV buys and incorporate some sort of live betting and live odds component to it. It would be insane, but I think we could even fill an entire normal track stadium with people to watch.”

Whatever your take may be on Rovell, he built a niche for himself, owned that niche, and is now benefiting from that, something not many people can do.

(*Edited: In a previous version, the it was said that the PPV event was on. The parties have confirmed with us that the event is still an idea and there is nothing set in stone from the PPV side of things.)

Adam is the Founder and CEO of Front Office Sports. A University of Miami Alum, Adam has worked for opendorse, the Fiesta Bowl, and the University of Miami Athletic Department. He can be reached at adam@frntofficesport.com.

Sports Betting

VSiN Aims to Alter Sports-Talk Content As Sports Betting Takes Hold

The mission of VSiN is to offer insight beyond commentator opinions and inform bettors on how various aspects of the games might affect outcomes.

Published

on

vsin-media-content

Photo credit: VSiN

Always on the periphery of the sports industry, Brian Musburger knew the mainstream sports media outlets were ignoring a large segment of the audience.

Believing sports betting legalization was inevitable, Musburger felt it was time to launch a media company focused on sports wagering, so in 2017, Vegas Stats & Information Network, or VSiN, was launched. Musburger’s inclination was right and a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in May 2018 made sports betting legal nationwide — and now states are gradually changing their laws.

Eight states have fully legalized sports betting, with 30 more with at least some talk of legalization.

Musburger even likened the stigma of sports betting to that of marijuana.

“We’re thrilled with how things have developed and the position we have now,” Musburger said. “Just about everybody participates in an NCAA pool or wagers on the Super Bowl, but no one wants to talk about it.”

The mission of VSiN is to offer insight beyond commentator opinions and inform bettors on how various aspects of the games might affect outcomes. Musburger believes VSiN is elevating the idea of sports-talk media and makes the content more interesting to every sports fan — not just those wagering with money on the line.

READ MORE: CBS Sports HQ Places Its Bets on Sports Betting Show

“People thought we were crazy, but now they see it’s a more intelligent form,” Musburger said. “It’s not two guys yelling at each other about who’s the best point guard of all time; there’s no utility to that. I learn stuff every day in the types of content we’re creating.

“What we’re talking about is thought-provoking and enlightening, not necessarily things I’d associate with sports talk.”

Musburger brought on his uncle, legendary broadcaster Brent Musburger, but also wanted a lineup of contributors who aren’t traditional broadcasters. He wanted true experts in sports, those who are authentic and knowledgable, not just polished broadcasters, to help the audience learn something new every time they hit the airwaves.

The border between sports betting and the professional leagues has eroded quickly, as all big four leagues signed partnership deals with gaming companies — NBA, NHL, and MLB partnered with MGM, while the NFL went with Caesars — and more media companies are already thinking about the future of how in-game betting plays into broadcasts.

Being based in Las Vegas gives VSiN a solid foundation in the capital of gambling and provides the contributors an inside look at the industry. Musburger said there’s been the negative stigma and fear of gambling interfering in sports. Instead, he said no entities have more invested in clean contests than the gaming companies.

“The folks setting the lines and running the books, they don’t want anything negative happening,” he said.

But the professional leagues easing barriers to the betting industry will open a floodgate of advertising. With perceived approval from the leagues to support content about sports betting, Musburger said there will be few better opportunities for mainstream advertisers to reach men aged 21-54.

“A lot of media companies will be chasing the advertising dollars coming into this,” Musburger said. “All of them need to have content. People will battle and spend a lot of money to bring those customers and bring in those relationships. It would be foolish to ignore this audience.”

READ MORE: Super Bowl to Offer Insights Into the Future of Sports Betting

VSiN has 24/7 content on SiriusXM and fuboTV, as well as its website and apps. It also has one-minute updates on more than 100 radio stations and syndicated analysis in newspapers like the New York Post and Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Musburger said more streaming deals are in the works. For the Super Bowl this year, VSiN aired a 24-hour pregame show and discussed hundreds of prop bets. The network also broadcast a “bet cast” during the game.

Content is fed to consumers in a variety of ways, and Musberger said one of the more astounding stats to him is consuming video through devices at 27 minutes at a time.

“We’re thrilled with how we’ve grown in two years,” he said. “We had the benefit of being a new media company and our goal is to allow the consumer to take in our content in whatever method is most convenient to them.”

Continue Reading

Sports Betting

Super Bowl to Offer Insights Into the Future of Sports Betting

The Super Bowl offers the first real look into how the leagues and sports betting entities will engage fans in a world where sports betting is embraced.

Published

on

super-bowl-betting

Super Bowl LIII is set to be a gauge of the effects of nationwide legalized gambling.

The game will be of particular interest to a variety of sports professionals, including Irwin Raij, the co-chair of the sports industry group at the law firm O’Melveny. Raij tracks issues in the emerging betting industry and has invested in professional soccer and baseball teams.

“It’s the first Super Bowl where betting is legalized in multiple states, and there’s a lot still evolving,” Raij said. “It’s a different twist to what people have been talking about.”

NFL viewership was already up between four and five percent this season, Raij said, which he believes is in part because of the increase in sport betting legality. The viewership could rise with more interest and participation in sports betting as more states legalize the practice. Sports betting is currently legal in seven states, and Raij expects up to 12 more states to legalize the practice in 2019.

READ MORE: NHL and MGM Partnership Just Scratching the Surface of Sports Betting Potential

The Super Bowl will be an inside look at the ways the NFL is experimenting with its new possibilities. For other leagues, the legalization of sports betting might open up an avenue for new fans, Raij said. The way betting can track how different stats and plays might affect the outcome could create a more engaging game.

“Baseball has a lot of content potential,” he said. “From a player analysis perspective, maybe it fuels an engine to create a renaissance of the game when there’s a moment all the time they’re watching.”

The NFL has so long been the top draw of sports leagues, Raij said, adding it would take some time to figure out how to best monetize the opportunities presented by legalized sports betting.

A sign the NFL will take its time was its delay in signing a deal with a major gaming property. The NHL, MLB, and NBA all signed partnership deals with MGM, looking to better compile and understand gaming data.

The NFL, however, signed a more traditional sponsorship deal with Caesars. Raij likened the NFL’s approach to a gaming deal similarly to how the league has been innovative in its broadcasting rights.

As more information emerges from sports betting, the leagues can create new products and tools, Raij said, with some of the information being public, with other information remaining official proprietary data.

“There will be a lot of analytics,” Raij said. “The NHL and NBA deals are creating new data, creating official unique IP. If you’re in the NFL, looking at what they did, it’s more, ‘is there something we can create?’”

Legal sports betting won’t eliminate illegal betting, Raij said, but it will bring more bettors to the surface, both those who formerly stayed quiet and those who stayed away because of the illegality. All that data can be captured, Raij said. He also said the tools and products will need to be done in a way not to alienate those fans who chose to avoid the betting action.

READ MORE: What CBS Sports HQ Hopes to Accomplish During Super Bowl Week in Atlanta

There will likely be in the tens of millions of bettors who were previously provided no data points, he said, and the media and sponsorship value of those fans could be significant.

“It’s a know-your-customer thing; here’s a way to market to them,” he said. “It’ll be about getting to know them and incentivizing them to spend more money.”

The Super Bowl offers the first real look into how the leagues and sports betting entities will engage fans in a world where sports betting is embraced.

“We started to see those deals at the end of 2018, so I think now 2019 is the full year of planning around it,” Raij said. “I look at the Super Bowl and it is a really bold, big event that really is the beginning of the calendar year in big sports events that will set some standards. It’s naturally a big step.”

Continue Reading

Sports Betting

Why Dover Brought Sports Betting to NASCAR

Dover took advantage of the Supreme Court ruling to become the first speedway to have betting available on-site during a race weekend.

Kraig Doremus

Published

on

Dover - Sports Betting - NASCAR

Dover International Speedway is aptly known as the “Monster Mile”. (Photo via Visit Delaware)

During its fall NASCAR tripleheader weekend on October 5-7, Dover International Speedway became the first NASCAR facility to offer sports betting, opening up a world of possibilities for the industry.

Full-scale sports betting, including auto racing wagers, was implemented at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, along with Delaware’s other casinos, on June 5, following a May Supreme Court ruling overturning the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. Since 2009, Delaware had offered parlay betting on professional football only, but October marked the first race weekend that wagering on all sports was permitted.

“We knew that sports betting becoming legal would have a huge impact on the NASCAR races at the track,” said Gary Camp, the assistant vice president of marketing and communications at Dover. “For the track side of things, we saw it as a real opportunity to tout the addition of sports betting to our race fans who had never experienced it before but wanted the opportunity to wager.”

Just what could they wager on? Anything from the stage winner, to overall race winner or finishing position of their favorite driver.

“To wager on the stages, the outcome of the race, and even manufacturer winner is a unique opportunity for our fans,” Camp said. “We saw it as an opportunity to make the races even more exciting than they already are. A good percentage of our fans took advantage of the opportunity.”

On the Dover property, there are two publicly traded companies – Dover Motorsports Inc., which owns Dover International Speedway, and Dover Downs Gaming & Entertainment, which operates Dover Downs Hotel & Casino. John Hensley, the general manager and senior director of horse racing and sports betting at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, knew just how important the recent Supreme Court ruling was for Dover.

WATCH: Inside Toyota’s Massive Daytona Activation

“In Delaware, there are three casinos, and we are all agents of the Delaware Lottery,” said Hensley. “Being an agent of the Delaware Lottery is what allows us to have the sports betting games. We sell sports betting tickets on whatever they allow us to sell.”

The speedway’s partnership with the Delaware Lottery allowed it to develop a unique display area during its October NASCAR weekend with a popup tent on speedway grounds to take bets. The track also pushed heavy social engagement, press releases, emails to fans and even a paid social media campaign to drum up interest and excitement.

Safe to say, it worked.

“At times there were 50-100 people in line making bets,” Hensley said. “We did not look at it as a revenue generator, but rather as a gaming company to have a presence and add that as addition and enhancement for the NASCAR fans. Now, they could bet at the track, not just the casino. It’s a great addition for the NASCAR fans to do and a way for us to help our sister company.”

Camp said the speedway kept NASCAR updated on its plans for promotions and activity around sports betting before the green flag dropped on weekend activities.

“We tried to be forthcoming with the folks at NASCAR in terms of our plans and the buzz in and around Delaware about the Supreme Court ruling,” Camp said. “For the track, it’s a point of differentiation that the fans can bet here on property, but not at any other track. I know some other facilities have it near the track, but not at it. We did our best to promote it, and it paid off.”

For the future, Hensley plans for more outlets to be available, while Camp said the track will have more time to promote it.

“From a gaming standpoint, we were conservative in our setup, but were pleasantly surprised at the reaction this year,” said Hensley. “We plan to have an additional machine and some more staff. I’m impressed with the knowledge of the race fan. The learning curve was smaller with this group of people when educating what spreads, props and over/under mean. They were knowledgeable.”

READ MORE: How NASCAR Stays Up to Speed in the Ever-Changing Digital Space

Camp said the addition of betting at the track just added more excitement to an already thrilling experience.

“We enjoyed it,” said Camp. “The buzz around the race track was incredible, and it provided another storyline for our weekend. Some fans bet on (race winner) Chase Elliott. It was fun to see them so excited and able to bet on the drivers and racing action.”

Continue Reading

Trending