Sports Betting in the Mainstream Media
Reuters estimates that sports betting is a TRILLION Dollar worldwide industry. Until recently, the massive demand for sports betting content was simply ignored by the mainstream media (due to a combination of pressure from the leagues, avoidance of taboo, and general apathy). In the last few years, the absence of social media gatekeepers has offered an initial hint of the latent demand for sports betting content. ESPN was the first mainstream media outlet to “dip its toe” into this content category – lead by vanguards Colin Cowherd and Bill Simmons. Other media companies – not wanting to be left behind - have moved in this same direction. The big boys are scrambling to understand this formerly shadow industry, searching for differentiated ideas and trustworthy voices. A tipping-point has been reached: betting is part of the general sports conversation and an acknowledged popularity-driver for all major American sports. This session is part of the brand new SXsports programming at SXSW 2014.
RJ Bell is the founder of Pregame.com, the largest legal sports betting news website. A modern day “Jimmy The Greek,” Bell has become the preeminent oddsmaker for sports and pop-culture events.
RJ hosts the daily Pregame.com radio show on ESPN Las Vegas, is a regular guest on Colin Cowherd’s national ESPN radio show, and is a contributor for Grantland, FOX, NBC, and Yahoo’s national radio networks. Bell has appeared on numerous national television programs including SportsCenter, CBS This Morning, ABC Evening News, Nightline, CNN, CNBC, and Pardon the Interruption.
Additionally RJ has been interviewed for his handicapping knowledge and expertise by the Associated Press, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Rick Reilly, and Maxim. Bell was recently commissioned by USA Today to make the odds on which Monopoly piece would be retired.
The only sports bettor included on Forbes’ list of “Gambling Gurus,” Bell was a member of the 2004 winning team at the Hilton Super Contest handicapping competition. He was a key contributor in Sports Illustrated’s expose of the point shaving scandal at the University of San Diego and later went on to serve as an expert witness for the US District Court case surrounding the incident.
Bell graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in finance and was the valedictorian of his class. He currently resides in Las Vegas.