Select Page

Update (January 16, 2019): In June 2017, RJ Bell and Pregame filed a defamation litigation over this article. The parties agreed to settle the case and, within that arrangement, Deadspin is providing a link to Bell’s answer to the allegations in this content: RJ Bell’s Response to This Article. Deadspin stands by its reporting.

Complete wagering is illegal in 49 states, but sports gambling is big business, with billions wagered each year–and everyone knows it. Lines and moves are discussed publicly on TV, and covers are cited right next to match stories. Media outlets nationally turn to a couple of people for insight and predictions into point spreads and odds. And the guy they seem to over any other is RJ Bell, a self-proclaimed modern-day Jimmy the Greek.

Various titles, some generous and others absolutely false–betting expert, professional handicapper, Vegas oddsmaker–are used to spot Bell when he is interviewed, however his role as head of is always contained and rarely explained. Pregame, which Bell started in 2005, sells selections. Bell does not sell his own selections any more–they never did very well–but rather oversees a revolving cast of two dozen guys who do. Bell says they’re winning pro bettors, and by paying to get their advice, the consequence is that you will win, also. In the end, they do this for a living.

In the industry if not in the media, Bell’s army of handicappers are known, generally derisively, as touts, and Bell is principal harmonious of the very visible and very possibly the most profitable pick-selling operation.

But unlike his forerunners–notable loudmouths in the’80s and’90s such as Jack Price and Stu Feiner who came around like pro wrestlers–Bell isn’t braying on TV infomercials, promising to bury your bookmaker. He does not need to. Mainstream media today attracts the heads of these services on air and moves them off as analysts, affording people such as Bell streams of new customers and free advertising a salesman could scarcely imagine.

Sportscasters and scribes introduce Bell since the oracle of Las Vegas. You can hear him on Stephen A. Smith’s Sirius show, KROQ in Los Angeles, ESPN radio in Las Vegas, Yahoo’s nationwide websites, NBC Sports Radio, and Colin Cowherd’s nationally syndicated Fox Sports 1 series; watch him in primetime on SportsCenter, CBS, ABC, CNBC, CNN, or in South by Southwest; and find him quoted regularly at the New York Times, Associated Press, Bloomberg, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, and any local rag or site that calls him. A few years ago, he wrote a regular betting pillar for Grantland. His followers more than 117,000 to variety. Following him, he says, is like having”a chair in the sportsbook.”

Read more here: