The offshore sportsbook market continues to thrive, thanks in part to confusion between what is legal and illegal. The latest example of that confusion is notable CBS Sports reporter Josina Anderson, who is seemingly a brand ambassador for offshore sportsbook Bovada.
“A lot of people just don’t know,” Penn CEO Jay Snowden told analysts last year.
What’s the situation with Josina Anderson?
Over the last couple of months, Anderson has been tagging Bovada at the bottom of news tweets.
Those promos are interspersed with tweets about her work as a CBS Sports Insider. To the casual observer, the promos are nearly indistinguishable from her CBS work:
She has also been interviewing NFL players like Adrian Peterson for a show called Bovada Live. The partnership has been running since at least the Super Bowl, per Anderson’s posts.
What about CBS deal with Caesars?
What’s more: CBS has a wide-ranging partnership with legal outfit Caesars Sportsbook. How does Caesars feel about paying CBS to advertise its products, while key talent at CBS is promoting an illegal offshore operator?
Anderson, CBS and Caesars all did not respond to a request for comment at the time of writing.
Anderson has not tagged Bovada in any posts since LSR contacted her about the partnership.
Offshore books of course are incentivized to blur the line between legal and illegal.
Some operators have even stolen branding from legal books to trick customers into app downloads.
“The most important thing is that customers still have difficulties telling which bookmaker is licensed and which is not,” Manuel Stan, Kindred US senior vice president, told LSR last year.
Problems offshore for Bovada?
Bovada is providing a reminder of the risks associated with offshore sports betting right now, in fact.
The operator has been experiencing various technical issues for more than four days now. The offshore book said Monday it was working to fix the issues and would provide an update by 6 pm Thursday.
Of course, many are only turning to Bovada in the first place because sports betting is not legal in their state:
Ongoing black-market problem
Last week, BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt said the black market should dissipate over time because of “product superiority” and continued marketing by legal operators.
However, he also asked for sensible regulations to fight offshore books:
“As an industry, we have captured a good proportion, but certainly not all of the U.S.-based sports betters who were active before PASPA fell,” Greenblatt said. “One only needs to review search and traffic volumes for sites still serving the U.S. from offshore to build a fact base supporting this.
Google data suggests offshore books garner three times as much search activity as legal books across the US. That falls dramatically in more mature legal sports betting states like New Jersey.
Crackdown on offshore books
The American Gaming Association (AGA) also highlighted the problem of black market operators recently, picking out Bovada specifically.
Bovada accounted for 50% of all sports betting searches in states like Florida, the AGA said.
The group called on the Department of Justice to crack down on those operators.
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