Update (January 16, 2019): In June 2017, RJ Bell and Pregame filed a defamation litigation over this article. The parties agreed to settle the situation and, as part of the arrangement, Deadspin is supplying a link to Bell’s response to the allegations in the article: RJ Bell’s Response to This Article. Deadspin stands by its coverage.
Complete wagering is illegal in 49 states, but sports betting is big business, with countless each year–and everyone knows it. Lines and motions are discussed publicly on TV, and covers are all mentioned right alongside match stories. Media outlets nationally turn to a couple of people for predictions and insight into point spreads and odds. And the guy they look to over any other is RJ Bell, a self-proclaimed modern-day Jimmy the Greek.
Numerous titles, some others and generous absolutely false–gambling specialist, professional handicapper, Vegas oddsmaker–are utilized to identify Bell when he is interviewed, however his role as head of Pregame.com is always included and rarely explained. Pregame, that Bell began in 2005, sells sports-betting selections. Bell doesn’t market his own decisions any more–they did very well–but instead manages a revolving cast of two dozen men who do. Bell says they’re winning pro bettors, and by paying for their guidance, the consequence is that you will win, also. In the end, they do this for a living.
From the industry if not in the media, Bell’s army of handicappers are well known, generally derisively, as touts, and Bell is principal harmonious of the most visible and very possibly the most profitable pick-selling operation.
But unlike his forerunners–notable loudmouths in the’80s and’90s like Jack Price and Stu Feiner who came across like professional wrestlers–Bell is not braying on TV infomercials, promising to spoil your bookmaker. He does not have to. Mainstream media now brings the heads of these services on air and moves them off as analysts, devoting people such as Bell flows of new customers and free advertisements a salesman could barely imagine.
Sportscasters and scribes alike present Bell as 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 national networks, NBC Sports Radio, and Colin Cowherd’s nationally syndicated Fox Sports 1 series; see him in primetime on SportsCenter, CBS, ABC, CNBC, CNN, or even in South by Southwest; and find him quoted regularly in the New York Times, Associated Press, Bloomberg, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, and any neighborhood rag or blog that calls him. A few years back, he wrote a routine gaming column for Grantland. His followers more than 117,000 to number. After him, he says, is similar to having”a seat in the sportsbook.”
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