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dan shaughnessy

We really could use a break from these endless sports betting commercials

An ad for a sports betting app featuring Bruins great Zdeno Chara is on display near Fenway Park.Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Please make it stop. I can’t take it anymore.

I want to take a chain saw to my big flat-screen every time I see another ad for sports betting.

Which is … every commercial break … of every game.

We get it, DraftKings. You too, FanDuel. Ditto BetMGM.

You keep telling us how easy it is to … make … it … rain.

It is implied to be free money, right? We can’t lose, right? We are smarter than the average fan, so if we just go with our instincts, we can make a bundle just sitting on our couch.


Or, more likely, we’ll end up being one of a million suckers who’ll regret ever placing that first “legal” bet.


Why not just attach a hose to your bank account and turn on the giant sucking machine?

Nobody ever loses in the pathetic bro-culture commercials. Everybody’s happy, surrounded by young, attractive friends, soaking up some suds and making cash without actually working. They hug. They high-five. They do cartwheels in the man cave.

Oh, and remember this, fanboys: If you purchase anything remotely, or just open your phone, there are enticing ads to “bet $5, get $200 in free bets instantly.” The Caesars Sportsbook App offers $1,500 in deposit matching credits. Others offer up to $1,000 in “risk free” bets.

Plenty of sports celebrities kicked off the first day of sports betting in Massachusetts at the Encore Boston Casino earlier this year.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

It’s all legal and they are coming after you and your wallet.

It’s recruitment. Some might call it grooming. They draw you in and then you can’t get out. They can even hire academic “experts” who’ll tell us that there’s no problem here.

I wonder when we start hearing the sad stories of fanboy bros who lose a bet or two watching TV while downing brewskis, then empty their bank accounts trying to catch up.


I especially loathe the TV ad with my pal Lenny Clarke walking past Zdeno Chara and Bruins anthem singer Todd Angilly, strolling outside the Garden alongside Brian Scalabrine and Aly Raisman, then having a little quick convo with “Everywhere, Everything” anything-for-a-dollar David Ortiz. I mean, how many local heroes can we puncture in one 30-second commercial?

The ads always come with that little disclaimer: “Gambling problem? Call (800) 327-5050 or visit”


Meanwhile, here in the sports media world, local TV, radio, and sports websites, including and, are poisoned with the stuff. The once-respectable NESN, now absent any substantive local programming other than Bruins and Red Sox games, has become a 24/7 go-to for sports bettors.

Monday morning on NESN, I stumbled into a hideous show called “Follow the Money” (not to be confused with NESN’s “Ultimate Betting Show”) and listened to two guys agonizing over the final seconds of every NCAA game from the weekend. While discussing strange happenings at the end of tourney games already won or lost, the gambling experts chastised network announcers for not calling attention to how final-minute random plays affected point spreads and betting lines.

Meanwhile, the crawl below highlighted “prop analyzers tracking past player performances … fresh betting splits sourced in real time … exclusive betting tools with the best data … bonus money by playing the squares” and urged me to buy a subscription to VSiN (Vegas Stats and Information Network).

I needed a shower after a half-hour of this garbage.


Listen to Upton Bell, former Patriots general manager and son of Bert Bell, who was NFL commissioner for 14 years:

“My father was always on the lookout. He discovered a betting scandal the night before the championship game between the Bears and Giants in 1946 and if he had not stopped it, you would not have the NFL you have today.

“What you are seeing is a complete sellout of all the leagues for the sake of money. They have turned 180 degrees on everything they said for decades. You couldn’t even mention a point spread or odds on any NFL network and now that’s all you hear. It’s disgusting.

A person gambles as odds for the Super Bowl are displayed on monitors at the Circa resort and Casino Sports Book in Vegas last month.John Locher/Associated Press

“I am not living in the past and saying everything was great then and is bad now. I think today’s players are better and the game is better. But this is asking for trouble. What are they going to do now when some lineman who is not making a million bucks is approached by his cousin? Missing one or two blocks can change a game. How will you even know?”

Here’s Fay Vincent, former commissioner of Major League Baseball:

“I think that the risk of gambling has always been a major risk to competitive professional sports. Gambling is a major menace. Anybody with a brain knows that money attracts corruption. I think as the money gets to be so enormous, the gamblers are going to say, ‘This is a game we can influence one way or another,’ because the money is so astonishing and people are willing to bet knowing that the rules for fair play do not exist.


“I know something about financial corruption and insider trading. And the idea that we can keep corporate executives from cheating is not accurate. We can’t do it. People are always going to try to take advantage.

“The world has changed enormously. Betting used to be illegal. It’s now totally legal everywhere and the states are getting into it and Major League Baseball is getting into it. Everybody’s making money and the public is getting screwed.

“The value of the franchises is based on how much money these people are going to make from gambling. The federal government is sitting there. They know what’s going on, but they have decided that gambling is a way of life and a lot of money is being generated.

“This is a total cop-out by people who know better. The government is so busy with other problems, but I do think it’s amazing that nobody is paying attention.”

Our professional leagues are paying attention. Our media outlets are paying attention. And fans are being tempted with promises of easy money.

Get in the game. Make it rain.

Be a sucker.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at Follow him @dan_shaughnessy.