Reflecting on sports betting social media in a post-PASPA world

Typing symbol coming out of a cell phone at a sports event
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Sports betting as an industry exploded over the past five years, but perhaps what boomed even bigger and even louder was sports betting social media. Sports betting accounts have become so ubiquitous that they are arguably passe. We’ve all seen and joked about the cascade of posts from operators when a big play takes place or the endless touts dancing their picks away on Tik Tok.

Five years ago, betting chatter was relegated to a small group (anyone remember Cville?) but now every sports fan has a betting opinion and they want to share it. Someone who keenly understands that is Playmaker President and Chief Revenue Officer David Woodley. The Playmaker network of social media channels encapsulates millions of sports fans that have taken an interest in sports bettors.

While sports betting is new to the regulated space, American bettors came with a certain amount of knowledge in advance of the repeal of PASPA. Like many others, Woodley noted that a passion for fantasy is certainly obvious in what bettors are choosing, particularly Same Game Parlays. The mainstream media may have concerns about the predatory nature of SGPs, which are often compared to lottery tickets, but Woodley and many others think people are fully aware of what they are getting into and are more than happy to experience the fun an SGP can offer.

SGP product more than just a lotto ticket

“I think it’s even better than a lottery ticket because a lottery ticket implies you have no say over anything,” Woodley explained. “Sports bettors want to puff out their chests and say ‘I’m the best’ and ‘I’m the smartest’. Even if you’re the most recreational bettor, it is like you feel like you have some control over it.”

Do SGPs win more often than not? No. But Woodley thinks most users are aware of the return on their investment, citing research done by Playmaker.

“What we found amongst our users and a younger generation of bettors was they don’t think they’re gonna win. They’re conditioned to realize that betting is not a way to make money long-term but to really view it from an entertainment aspect.”

Many within the industry assumed US bettors would be keen to make sharp, profitable bets, but there is a huge segment of bettors that are taking part to have a sweat and have some fun. While that part isn’t so surprising, what has taken many aback is how accepting the sports betting community has been even if someone’s approach to betting is as nonsensical as letting your pet make your picks for you.

Sports betting community suprisingly welcoming

“It became this huge community of just people arguing but having fun, no different than sports as a whole. I think the sports betting Twitter ecosphere mimics sports as a whole. People have hot opinions and cold opinions,” Woodley said. “In sports betting, you’re up against a universal house and who on Earth would ever root for the house?”

Woodley walked that back quickly though, noting that millionaires like Mattress Mack are the rare exception of people bettors sweat against. However, he noted that some of the reasons people think sports betting is negative are more indicative of the larger trends of Twitter, not the sentiments of the participants themselves.

“Twitter has become even more of an echo chamber, kind of by design. Now you really only see the more controversial stuff, so I think it’s just a very loud 100 people and I think 20 of them probably have legitimately interesting things to say,” he said, citing Captain Jack Andrews as an example of a good follow. However, even Jack can place too much emphasis on things that impact too many people, such as getting limited by a sportsbook.

“Most people don’t care. They just don’t care about getting limited because they’re probably never going to get limited.”

There isn’t data that necessarily proves Woodley’s stance, but his experience with Playmaker has him confident that is the case.

Sports betting social media can get stuck in the echo chamber

It’s important because you want to hold everyone to a standard, but the majority don’t care. We have 20 million followers on our channels. I would be shocked if more than 1% cared about what the sportsbooks are doing wrong. What they now care about, and I don’t know if it is a good thing or a bad thing, is when they bet on a player prop and that player gets injured five minutes in. It sucks when you’re drawing dead one minute in. There is a bigger conversation around training people to whine about losing.”

As social media moves forward, that bigger conversation about sore losers is reaching the regulators as some jurisdictions like Ohio consider whether or not to punish people who lash out at athletes with verbal and sometimes physical harassment. The Bradley Beal incident is just one instance where bad betting behavior is at the heart of the matter.

At Playmaker, Woodley said the mantra is to “celebrate the wins and laugh at the losses.” As betting continues to become a major part of mainstream social media conversation, championing that mindset is paramount. Woodley noted this may result in some people being made an example of before it really sinks in. As sports betting comes out of the shadows and into the light, there inevitably will be growing pains, but the next five years will hopefully see social media embrace the fun of sports without crossing a line.