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  • Writer's pictureJim Gagen

Old School – Online Gaming: Marketing a Vice or Just Plain Fun?

Marketing a Vice.

There is nothing new about marketing a vice. Over the years, beer, alcohol and cigarettes have advertised in many media vehicles. However, historically there has been a system of checks and balances on marketing vices. While advertising for beer has been around seemingly forever and omnipresent, there have been limitations on advertising alcohol and cigarettes over the years. The liquor companies had a self-imposed ban on advertising on television from 1948 until 1996. In 1970, President Nixon signed legislation banning cigarettes from advertising on television.

The new vice being marketed is online gaming. With online betting now legal in 37 states, advertising for these sports books has exploded with almost $2 billion expected spending in 2023, up from $1 billion just two years ago. In addition to the high spending, the betting sites offer free bet credits when signing up. While some accuse these sites of “sucking betters in”, the system of checks and balance to monitor abuse seems to be some sort of “soft” regulation from legislators, along with the sites offering advice to prevent gambling problems and oversight by the various leagues. Hopefully, between the actions taken by these three entities (the legislators, sites and the leagues) combined with responsible gambling, online gaming will not become a problematic vice.

Just Plain Fun

Since sports betting became legal in Ohio in January 2023 and because I am an avid sports fan, I decided to try online betting at the beginning of the year. It has in fact been very fun, but, at the same time, it is a case of buyer beware. Therefore, I thought I would write this blog as somewhat of a public service to give some tips to prospective customers. My “research” involved initially signing up for one service and then branching out to test a total of six sites over the first six months of the year. The following gives some overall tips (or rules) along with a summary of the sites I’ve used and their strengths and weaknesses.

Tips or Rules

1. Seek out and take advantage of sign-up bonuses. Most of the sites offered up to $200 in bet credits just for signing up. They continue to offer current users bet credits for referring friends to sign up, so if you want to start, send me a note and you and I will get the credits😊.

2. Never bet more than you can afford to lose. This is pretty basic. Do it for fun, not to make a living, and start with small wagers.

3. Learn the terminology of betting and the various types of bets (straight bets, moneyline vs. spread, parlays, over/under etc…). I made an early mistake on the moneyline vs. spread issue, thinking I was betting on my team just to win. However, it paid off as my team won and covered the spread.

4. Learn the idiosyncrasies of each betting sites. While they all kind of do the same thing, each has its own technology and order. This can lead to betting the over or under instead of the moneyline or betting more than planned if one doesn’t pay attention.

5. Compare the promotions and odds across the different sites to maximize your return. Each site offers daily promotions like “No Sweat” or “Guaranteed” bet credits if you lose or odds boosts increasing whatever odds by 15, 25, 50 or even 100% for various types of bets.


Pros: My first and favorite site. Very good start-up bonus ($200), great customer service (best of the sites), fun promotions and the site where I have my most success😊.

Cons: Initial bonus bets were in increments of $25, which is more than I like to bet. Withdrawals are paid by check rather than electronically. Their mobile app loads very slowly when WiFi isn’t strong and their winnings sometimes take a while to post.

Pros: My second and second favorite site. Very good start-up bonus ($200) and the option of determining your own bonus bets amounts. Some fun promotions. They post winnings almost immediately.

Cons: Sometimes their odds are not as good as other sites and their pre-established bets tend to be longshots.

Pros: Some pretty interesting promotions like “Swing for Prizes” daily with Major League Baseball, which kept me using them (and winning some money back after my bad experience with their customer service).

Cons: Confusing sign-up bonus (they initially gave me the incorrect promotional offer and I had to fight for the one I signed up for), horrible customer service and autofill $50 bets that you have to change if you want to be a different amount. (Be careful with this autofill as I simply put my phone down and it triggered a $50 bet that I could not retract).

Pros: Good sign-up bonus and some decent promotions.

Cons: Seems to be more for “high-rollers” and boxing fans. Their customer service isn’t very good and I had a very bad winning percentage so discontinued using them.

I’ve also used Bet365 and Points Bet, both of which offer some fun promotions that are different from the others, so keep you interested.

Old School Advice

Have fun and as they used to say in Hill Street Blues: “Let’s be careful out there!

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