Sportsbook Losses Are Sports Betting Stories Their Media Affiliates Want You to Know About

One headline coming out of Super Bowl 2024 has nothing to do with the Swift/Kelce romance, the first back-to-back Super Bowl win in two decades, or Mahomes’ earning his near half-billion dollar contract. Nope, instead we want to draw America’s attention to one of the top sports betting stories from Super Bowl Sunday, and it’s all about sportsbook losses.

From CBS Sports (which is now a sportsbook affiliate) to ESPN (which is now an operator) news has dropped about how sportsbooks sustained a major financial hit on the Kansas City Chiefs’ overtime win over the San Francisco 49ers. And oh boy, they are not concerned about announcing their losses. But wait, shouldn’t they be embarrassed and want to keep these deficits on the hush-hush for the sake of stakeholders? Not at all. Here’s why.

Why Sportsbook Losses to Customers/Players is a Story Operator Affiliates (Media) Are Happy to Let the American Public to Know About

The Narrative Encourages Customers/Players to Keep Betting

Sportbooks and affiliates were quick to announce their million dollar losses the morning after Super Bowl Sunday. Why? Because while losing a few million is bad for the sportsbooks’ bottom lines, the impact it has on the sports betting public’s psyche is worth much more. The formulaic narrative regarding industry losses is far more effective than promotions for 50% reload bonuses and the like, as it make sports bettors think that they have more power over the outcome than they really do.

These press releases are akin to slot machines on the casino floor that illuminate with flashing lights and ringing sounds when players hit jackpots. And there’s a reason casinos use this tactic:

The flashing lights, the visual design of the space, and in particular the use of loud sounds serves to create feelings of excitement that distract the player by increasing cognitive load and, critically, give the impression that winning is much more common than losing. Griffiths and Parke hypothesized that background sounds and music might increase confidence of the players, increase arousal, help to relax the player, help the player to disregard previous losses, and induce a romantic state leading them to believe that they may win.”

National Library of Medicine

The reporting of sportsbook losses are marketing communications that encourage customers/players to reload their accounts and bet on the next big event. These communications are especially effective on those who struggle with problem gambling. One of the key signs of sports betting addiction, is the rationalization to keep betting to cover losses by wagering on the next “sure thing”. So even if you lost money on the Super Bowl (for example) knowing that millions of America’s cashed-in against sportsbooks provides you with false confidence that you can make your money back by betting on NCAA March Madness or other major game/tournament to come. Meanwhile, problem gamblers (and the general betting public) who are coming off of a windfall are further encouraged to let their winnings ride.

The next time the sports media (most of which are now operator affiliates) reports on sportsbook losses, remember that the news is analogous to the audio/visual spectacle of a winning slot on a casino floor.

Because the House ALWAYS Wins

The dedia (sportsbook affiliates) will allow this narrative to persist because in the end there is one unwavering certainty – the house always wins. It’s up there with death and taxes. Research shows that only 13.5% of gamblers make it out with a profit, and that number typically declines the longer they play. It’s why 20% of sports bettors are in, or have been, in debt and why the average debt (for a male compulsive gambler) is between $55,000 and $90,000.

Don’t be fooled by sports betting stories that make it seem as if sportsbook losses are a bad thing for operators, and great for YOU. These are tactics used by the media to create a false sense that the likelihood of winning against the “house” is actually better than it really is. If you find that you’re unable to resist the temptation to keep betting despite attempts to take a time out, reach out to speak to a specialist for support.

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