Key Takeaways from the SBC Summit North America Sports Betting Conference

The SBC Summit North America high-profile sports betting conference took place on July 12-14 in New Jersey with the participation of bookmakers, bettors and sports league representatives. The forum was attended by ESPN’s David Purdum who shared key takeaways from the event including Mattress Mack, offshore sports betting and match fixing.

Mattress Mack’s Big Bet Publicity Stunts

Advertising campaigns based on multi-million-dollar bets have generated $20 million worth of publicity for Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale and his Gallery Furniture company based in Houston, according to estimates by his own marketing team. McIngvale’s latest publicity stunt, which again brought him national news coverage, involved a $4 million bet on 10:1 odds for the Houston Astros to win the World Series.

“I’m a huckster,” Mattress Mack admitted with a chuckle, closing a keynote interview on Wednesday, July 13, after openly sharing insights about his marketing strategy. His recent $4 million bet with Caesars Sportsbook and WynnBET coincided with an advertising campaign promising a full refund to customers who have bought furniture for $3,000 or more if the Astros do indeed win the World Series.

“Unless we do something that’s fun for the customers, we’re going to go out of business,” Mattress Mack said and pointed out that he had already sold through the potential winnings of $40 million and is willing to bet more if any of the attending bookmakers would take it.

If Jim McIngvale wins his bets, he will use the money to pay out the promised refunds to his lucky customers, if he loses, as it often happens, he will still have the benefits of having generated massive sales coupled with the significant publicity he has received.

His betting stunts are not applauded by all, however, especially not by the regular online betting enthusiasts who get denied to place even a $100 bet, but have to listen about Mattress Mack’s multi-million-dollar wagering adventures.

Answering a question seeking his opinion on the common practice of bookmakers to place limits on successful bettors, McIngvale said that from a salesperson’s point of view he didn’t understand such practices.

“Open up those windows. Every time I bet, you get as much publicity as you want and people can live vicariously through what I bet,” he said. “I think winners are the best advertising in the world. Winners make the business.”

How True is It that 25 Percent of Offshore Sportsbooks Users Don’t Get Their Money?

FanDuel CEO Amy Howe stated during a keynote panel on Thursday, July 14, that as much as 25 percent of users who, in their search for the best betting sites, end up wagering on offshore sportsbook platforms don’t get their money. David Purdum challenged the accuracy of this statement saying that if it were true, the industry wouldn’t have survived, and yet a number of offshore sites continued to serve the US market.

When an unregulated betting operator doesn’t want to pay out winnings for any legitimate or unjustifiable reason, there is not much that the bettor could do, and that’s the biggest problem with wagering offshore. Such things happen, Purdum writes, but surely on a much smaller scale than one quarter of all bet winners.

With pay-per-head betting, which operates mostly on credit with person-to-person settlements, offshore websites and crypto payments are often used. The recent crash of the crypto market, combined with a slow sports betting calendar, did bring a surge of bettors not getting paid, nevertheless the claim that 25 percent of bettors on offshore sites get stiffed was unrealistic and “an exorbitant estimate”.

Can the Sports Betting Industry Do More to Battle Match-Fixing?

Suspicious betting patterns are discovered in less than 1 percent of sporting events, Khalid Ali, CEO of the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA), said during a panel dedicated to sports integrity  on Wednesday, July 13. The panel was also attended by representatives from the NFL, PointsBet and the Global Lottery Monitoring System (GLMS). Nevertheless, the sports betting industry can do much more to battle match-fixing, according to David Purdum.

It is lower-tier events such as minor-league tennis, soccer and table tennis that attract the majority of suspicious bets, yet major US sportsbooks still offer betting on such events instead of cutting them off in order to distinguish themselves from unregulated platforms.

“As long as you can control and monitor within a regulated environment, you are in much safer conditions than having everything always under water. It’s not through banning that you achieve and find the solution. It’s education and prevention,” Ludovica Calvi, president of GMLS, said and pointed out that when licensed European sportsbooks stopped offering small event wagers, match-fixing instances started occurring on the illegal market.

However, if the international betting data giants, which supply licensed and grey sportsbook platforms with odds, stop their coverage on lower-level events, platforms will be unable to create the odds for themselves and such offerings will disappear from the market. As a result, match-fixing ‘artists’ will no longer have no motivation to compromise the integrity of players and umpires.

Such major conferences like the SBC Summit North America attract impressive line-ups of speakers from all parts of the industry and other important stakeholders who have the opportunity to engage in high-level networking with market leaders and exchange ideas about emerging opportunities and challenges posed by the industry’s expansion.

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