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In November, the New York Times released a series of articles investigating the legalization of sports gambling. The paper’s conclusions were decidedly negative.
The Times declared lawmakers gullible and irresponsible in their handling of legalizing sports betting.
“After the Supreme Court opened the door to sports betting in 2018, lobbyists pushing for the legalization of online betting lavished state officials with gifts, parties and millions of dollars in donations, at times skirting campaign finance rules. Many lawmakers proved pliant,” the Times opined.
“The gambling industry used dubious data to push to legalize sports betting, in part by predicting states would be greeted by gushers of new tax revenue. A Times analysis of the industry’s claims found that many of the projections, at least so far, have been wildly optimistic.”
Another installment of the series criticized casino company Penn Entertainment for purchasing Barstool Sports in 2020. A hit piece journalist named David Enrich proclaimed Barstool founder Dave Portnoy a bigot without any evidence.
“[Penn] agreed to buy Barstool Sports, a controversy-courting suite of websites, podcasts and more. Barstool’s founder and ringleader, David Portnoy, has a history of misogynistic and racist behavior — and now has become one of the sports-betting industry’s most prominent spokesmen.”
Enrich expressed frustrations that state regulators didn’t hold debunked rumors — such as a deceptively reported article from Business Insider that depicted Portnoy as a sexual deviant — against the Barstool founder when permitting the distribution of the Barstool Sportsbook app.
“Mr. Portnoy is the type of person who traditionally would have encountered scrutiny from state regulators. In addition to his record of offensive behavior, The Times learned that he previously filed for bankruptcy, citing, among other things, $30,000 in gambling losses in one year — a typical red flag for gambling authorities. But in 12 of the 13 states in which Penn runs Barstool-branded sports betting, regulators didn’t require Mr. Portnoy to undergo a licensing review.”
Eventually, the New York Times accused the sports betting industry of exploiting vulnerable users. The outlet condemns states for not providing what it considers adequate support for addicted users:
“The sports-betting industry has been creative in devising ways to persuade people to keep betting even after they lose money, but tools to make it easier to quit — some run by gambling companies, others by states — do not always work. In Indiana, for example, people who sought the government’s help to prevent them from gambling found that they were still able to place bets. Dozens did so.”
So, the New York Times disapproves of sports betting. It set out to vilify all parties involved, from lawmakers to gambling personalities, from betting apps to outlets partnering with sportsbooks.
The latter target — “outlets partnering with sportsbooks “– is of notable interest.
See, lost in the Times’ besmirching of sports gambling is its own ties to the industry. The New York Times purchased The Athletic, a subscription sports site, for $550 million in cash last January. The Athletic is losing hundreds of millions of dollars while it bleeds subscribers. Perhaps the only perk attached to the brand is an exclusive partnership with the sportsbook BetMGM.
The deal between The Athletic and BetMGM runs multiple years. Last year, the duo launched an feature called “Betting Hub” that integrates live odds, betting lines, and BetMGM branding on The Athletic’s webpage.
Put simply, The Athletic profits from the very industry its parent company declared a form of snake oil.
“Hey @nytimes since you are coming after everyone involved in sports gambling shouldn’t you have to admit that @TheAthletic , a company you wildly overpaid for that is losing hundreds of millions of dollars, has a large sports gambling deal? Maybe investigate yourself?” Clay Travis tweeted.
Not so surprisingly, the New York Times’ week-long exposé did not mention the lucrative agreement between The Athletic and BetMGM but for a buried sentence in just one of its various articles.
Unfortunately, the paper does not have plan to investigate itself for its role in the expansion of the sports betting market
“It’s insanely hypocritical to be taking tens of millions of dollars in sports gambling money @nytimes , including advertising free wagers on your properties, while ripping the sports gambling industry. Look forward to your expose on @TheAthletic gambling deals,” Clay Travis added on Twitter.
Ultimately, the New York Times sought to sully the brands that compete with the partnership between The Athletic and BetMGM.
Such a motive proves the entire “investigation” into the industry as either hypocritical or dubious. Or, knowing the Times, a mixture of both.