The evolution of the handicapping industry has been quite remarkable over the last few decades. We have gone from the prevalence of nine hundred numbers and high pressure boiler-room operations to the current market where anyone can hold themselves out to be an “expert” via social media (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, etc.).
Credentials be damned as the handicapping industry is widely unregulated, allowing anyone with access to a computer to sell sports picks to the gambling masses. Just take a look at the growth of sports handicapping websites on the eve of the 2015-2016 football season.
With the college football season only days away and the NFL regular season only weeks away, fly-by-night operations are popping up all over the internet. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these sites are operated by unscrupulous owners interested only in exploiting sports bettors with get-rich-quick schemes.
It is a common refrain that if it look too good to be true, it usually is. Yet, thousands of sports bettors get sucked in by these snake-oil salesmen who peddle unrealistic win rates and falsified records. But, for the many desperate bettors looking for a winner, these empty promises of grandeur are appealing.
Desperate people do desperate things, and the record-number of fraudulent pick sites on the internet today has caused the desperate few to become the desperate masses. The purveyors of fraud care not about providing winning information; they are solely interested in getting their hands on another credit card.
We’ve all been the victims of the endless solicitation calls from salesmen who read from a pathetic script of deceit. We’ve all been recipients of the misleading pamphlets in our mailbox that “guarantee 70% winners for only “$99.” Sounds familiar, right?
And, we’ve all ended up on endless call lists that are passed from one scam-operation to the next. The unsolicited phone calls are never-ending; they are intrusive; they are offensive; and they never stop despite pleading with the person on the other end of the line to stop calling your number.
The handicapping industry is like a murky swamp riddled with algae and bacteria. Creatures of all types lurk at the bottom looking for their prey. So, the question remains: how can we fix an industry where 97% of its quasi-members are engaged in false and misleading business practices?
Oskeim Sports 4-Point Plan to Reform the Handicapping Industry:
- Empowering Consumers – The responsibility has to begin with the consumer, which means empowering sports bettors so that they can make better decisions in the handicapping marketplace. The creation of a consumer advocacy group for sports bettors would allow them to fully vet the industry as a whole.
- Mandatory Licensing & Oversight – Just as the legal profession and many others have professional boards and committees that oversee the industry, the handicapping industry needs similar oversight to curtail and prevent the existing fraud and abuse. Professional handicappers who want to sell their information to the public should be required to obtain a license from this independent body, and that license should be renewed on an annual basis at a specified cost to the handicapper.
- Mandatory Membership with the Better Business Bureau – This provision would give sports bettors the ability to research sports handicappers at one of the most trusted organizations in the country. Sports bettors would also be empowered with the ability to submit complaints and grievances with the Better Business Bureau.
- Mandatory Monitoring by Independent Third Party – All licensed sports handicappers selling picks to the public should be required to have their selections independently monitored by one of several independent third-party monitoring sites that currently exist. All third-party monitoring sites would be accredited and approved by the handicapping industry’s Board or Committee (see No. 2 above).
The above-referenced plan is merely a starting point; I’m more interested in receiving feedback from those who have been adversely affected by those in the handicapping industry. Having a conversation about these issues is a good starting point, but at some point in the near future reforms need to be implemented to prevent handicappers from engaging in unfair, deceptive and unscrupulous trade practices.
I look forward to hearing from you.