Get A Grip — Week In Sports Betting: Talking Brackets In School

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It’s information overload everywhere, and there’s not time enough to sleep and eat and stay fully apprised of what’s happening on this crazy blue dot of ours (two out of three ain’t bad). Here’s the weekend Sports Handle item, “Get a Grip,” recapping the week’s top U.S. sports betting headlines, highlighting some fresh news, and rounding up key stories.

Top stories around our network this week

The madness of March Madness got a little crazier this week in a story involving the SuperBook and one of its (now former) employees, host/analyst Taylor Mathis — a casualty of a different kind of busting related to brackets.

As she explained to Sports Handle, Mathis made a recent visit to her sister’s second-grade class in Illinois, and her talk with the young students involved her career connected to sports. It led to explanation of the brackets used in the NCAA Tournament, as a form of math lesson related to the numbers involved.

She said she never discussed gambling with the class, but after she posted about her visit on social media, her subject matter raised the hackles of some in the anti-gambling community. Her employer told her she had been accused of “grooming” children to be gamblers, and despite her issuing an online apology as the Superbook requested, it opted to fire her.

“I couldn’t believe I was getting accused of grooming,” she said. “It was fun with math with second-graders.” Sports Handle’s Jeff Edelstein agreed with her, writing that Mathis “has been sacrificed at the altar of responsible gambling.”

The story had an additional twist, in that Edelstein spoke subsequently with Harry Levant, a recovered compulsive gambler who is now one of the industry’s leading critics. He acknowledged he was the one who reached out to the SuperBook and others in protest when he saw Mathis’ initial tweet about the bracketology session with the class. Levant said he wasn’t trying to get her fired, however, but only make a point that he thought she had crossed a line as a representative of the industry.

“I would quarrel with you that using the NCAA Tournament to teach math is a good thing,” he said. “It’s not a good thing. The more we normalize this for kids, the worse we are.”

The difference between Mathis’ viewpoint and Levant’s is part of a much broader debate that exists in America these days as legal sports betting and all of the marketing connected to it shows up in more and more states. (One welcome footnote, in the case of Mathis, is she had already planned to leave the SuperBook anyway, with another job lined up.)

By coincidence, the incident arose not only during March Madness but during Problem Gambling Awareness Month. Once the month of March ends, however, the debate isn’t going away concerning how new generations growing up with legalized gambling as part of everyday life will be impacted. Sports Handle and its network of sites will continue to be on top of that discussion, as with so many other aspects of the industry, as our stories of the past week show.

These don’t add up right when together

Politicians, sports betting, and responsible gambling: An unholy mix

Let the rest eat the crumbs

America’s online sportsbook business is consolidating at the top, and fast

Missouri’s on the move … maybe

Missouri House sends legal sports betting bill to Senate

Missouri House advances legal wagering

North Carolina playing catch-up, too

North Carolina mobile wagering bill progresses through House

North Carolina mobile betting bill starts journey through House

Is it anything more than big Texas talk?

First Texas hearing reveals no consensus to act on gambling in 2023

A lot of fence-sitting in Georgia

Georgia senators hope to create wagering study committee

A sleepy New England holdout awakens

For first time ever, Vermont House passes sports betting bill

The tribes will have a say in Oklahoma

Oklahoma betting bill that would put tribes in charge passes House

Tennessee’s 10% rule always ripe for debate

Tennessee legislature considers changing 10% mandatory hold rule

Maryland might look do some quick tweaks

Maryland sports betting bills make it through crossover day

Really, does anyone like all the ads?

New Jersey lawmakers latest to condemn amount  of wagering advertising

Massachusetts notes there’s a war going on

Massachusetts: No wagering on Russian, Belarusian athletes under ‘neutral flag’

Pennsylvania survey had a few surprises

Pennsylvania iGaming participation survey: Play plateaued, problems dropped

One proud papa stands out at NCAA tourney

Bill Murray has UConn in his bracket as son Luke looks to lead Huskies to Final Four

More Maryland sportsbooks coming

The Maryland Lottery approved a mobile sports wagering license applicant (Veteran Services Corp.), a sports betting facility license applicant (Whitman Gaming), and an online sports wagering operator applicant (iGaming Cloud) on Thursday.

Veteran Services Corp. entered into a service agreement with Bee-Fee Limited, which will provide its online sports betting service to Marylanders. Whitman Gaming will launch a FanDuel Sportsbook at the Sports & Social Bar in North Bethesda. The Sports Wagering Application Review Commission can officially award the entities licenses at its April 19 meeting.

IGaming Cloud will provide its Sportnco online betting platform to Crab Sports Maryland, which received a mobile betting license last month.

— Bennett Conlin

Another Ontario operator shutters

Ontario operator CoolBet on Tuesday stopped taking wagers and plans to completely shutter its platforms next month. The European-based company, which offered sports betting and iCasino, is the second to exit the Ontario market since operators went live there last April.

According to Canada Sports Betting, the company stopped taking deposits Tuesday and platforms were shut down Wednesday. The platforms will become completely inaccessible on April 3, at which point any unsettled bets will be voided and funds returned to customers. CollBet was formerly a gray operator in Ontario, and its closure follows Nitro Casino’s Dec. 30 shutdown, although the province still has more than 75 platforms and apps available.

“I think it’s a symptom of the competitiveness of the Ontario market,” a Canadian iGaming executive told Canada Sports Betting. “A company that competes primarily on low sportsbook vig is going to be in trouble. The American companies are executing their strategy of spending so much that others decide not to play.”

— Jill R. Dorson


More of the most important, interesting stories

AH, THE DOWNSIDE OF MARCH MADNESS: These are the real dangers of the sports betting boom for young men [Newsweek]

GENDER EQUALITY CAN BECOME A TRICKY THING: Montreal study finds more women began gambling online during the pandemic [The Canadian Press]

THEY COULD SCHOOL OTHER SCHOOLS ON THIS: NCPG agility grants in action: Talking Towson research with Keith Whyte [SBC Americas]

WHY SHOULD BOSTON HAVE ALL THE FUN? DraftKings opens new technology hub in southwest Las Vegas valley [KSNV]

SEC IS ALWAYS TOUGH TO BEAT AS OPPONENT: Jake Paul reaches settlement with SEC in crypto touting case []

ASHER BRANCHING OUT TO A DIFFERENT GIG: Sports betting exec Joe Asher named to chair board of Washington, D.C., think tank [CDC Gaming Reports]

NO ONE HAS GAMBLING ISSUES HERE, SIR: County declines funds for problem gambling [Powell Tribune]

YOU WANT THE GOOD NEWS OR BAD NEWS FIRST? Arkansas gaming report: Casinos up, sportsbooks down in February [KNWA]


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