In episode #57, Ryan sits down with PJ Laferla to talk about his latest project in the sports betting space — SportsInput.com! The guys also talk legalized sports betting predictions, the power of LinkedIn, and much more! Don’t miss this one!
Ryan Knuppel: Today we talk with PJ Laferla of sportsinput.com about sports data, legalization of U.S. Sports betting, LinkedIn, and so much more.
Speaker 2: This is crazy.
Ryan Knuppel: Everywhere you turn, it’s the same old sports talk, the same headlines, the same news and the same boring information. This podcast is here to change all of that. We bring you hot sports takes, winning sports betting strategy and picks, reliable gaming industry news, and breaking interviews with some of the biggest names in sports business. My name is Ryan Knuppel and welcome to the Knup Sports Show.
Ryan Knuppel: Hey, what’s going on everybody. Welcome to the Knup Sports Show, episode number 57. My name’s Ryan Knuppel. I’m your host here. Thank you again for joining me. I appreciate it. As always, we love having the audience that we do. Hopefully you enjoy this show and are listening either on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, whatever platform you’re on. You have subscribed and you are thoroughly into this show.
Ryan Knuppel: What we do is we interview a sports betting and sports business guests, influencers, top level company owners, things of that nature in this space. And we just get to know them. We get to understand what they’re working on. We talk to them about future projects. We talk to them about their predictions and their outtakes, and their looks at the industry as a whole. Just to get some further insight, and for you to get to know some of the people. And who knows, there may be some connections that can be made from a listener listening to somebody that interests them as well. So thank you for tuning in. Thank you. If you have anybody you’d like to hear on here or if you yourself would like to be on the show, just be sure to reach out to me and we will get you on the show.
Ryan Knuppel: So we are only a few weeks out from football season, the best time of year for sports. I cannot wait. Our company is fully invested in football. We are planning. We are getting all the content we need ready for all of the people we work with and it’s going to be a fun year. I mean football is always awesome time of year: Thursday night football, leading into Saturday college, Sunday NFL, then Monday night football. It’s a always amazing time. I’m hoping to get my brother on here who’s really a sports fanatic and us two can just talk football, maybe leading into a NFL preview for the season. Something a little less interviewish and a little more sports-related. So we’ll hopefully get that set up here over the next few days. But for now we won’t spend any more time. We’ll jump right in to my interview with PJ Laferla.
Ryan Knuppel: All right. Welcome back to the Knup Sports Show. Today I’m here with a very special guest. I have PJ Laferla on the line with me. PJ, are you with me?
PJ Laferla: I’m here buddy. I’m here.
Ryan Knuppel: Hey, thank you so much for joining me. I appreciate it. For all you listeners out there that want to know, PJ is the chief growth officer at sportsinput.com. PJ, can you give us… You know, before we really get in here, we’re gonna talk some sports betting today. We’re going to talk some legal U.S. sports betting. But before we get into that, can you tell our audience little bit about what SportsInput is and I guess, what you’re doing in this space?
PJ Laferla: Yeah, so SportsInput is [inaudible 00:03:08] for a number of years. It was originally founded as an online sports newspaper. A lot of unique articles relative to everything sports. Covering baseball, football, hockey, basketball, everything that you could really bet on. But the focus at the time… SportsIput went online in 2011 and sports betting was still kind of taboo in the U.S., I mean there were certainly outside of Vegas, no legalization. So we shifted gears a little bit, put SportsInput on hold, and after New Jersey, the supreme court struck down PASPA, and everybody knows what happened there. We decided that from a name alone we felt like SportsInput had a lot of legs, good marketing, good SEO. And we really took a long hard look at the space and identified what was missing. And we felt as though there was a unique opportunity for sports data from a betting perspective.
PJ Laferla: Now we all know that there’s some giants out there with data, but there’s really nothing relevant, soup to nuts that is geared towards a sports betting perspective. So what I mean by that is if you go on any website, you’ll see traditional standings, one loss gain back percentage. Maybe a run differential, for instance in baseball or something. But it’s very few and far between that it digs deeper to money standings. Where would this team be year to date based on $100 or a one unit play? What’s their over under? What are their pitching records? What are their run support? These are the things that I felt was really lacking in the marketplace. And I thought would be a very key component to a betting strategy for…
PJ Laferla: I mean, let’s face it, information is really what the number one goal is when it comes to betting. Right? So we figure with SportsInput we could provide… We can’t guarantee winners and we’re not selling picks or anything like that. But what we can do is help you with as much information as you need before putting your hard earned money you on a play. And that’s really the concept.
Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, and that’s what I was going to ask. I’m sorry to interrupt you there, but that’s what I was gonna ask. So SportsInput, who’s a user of SportsInput? Are you looking to… Is it the casual better? Is it the customer, is it the end user that’s going to use something like SportsInput? Or are you looking more business to business where you’ll work with websites and companies to integrate your data into what they’re currently doing? Obviously to help the end customer at the end of the day. But who uses SportsInput?
PJ Laferla: Yeah, that’s a phenomenal question. And it is a B2B component. And everybody would be using SportsInput but probably not know that they’re viewing our products. And what I mean by that is Yahoo, or Knup Sports, or just other sports-related websites that you could see out there, that see the benefit from our products, will be available to the user. But it’s one of those things where our name might be behind the scenes, but in reality we’re powering a lot of different websites.
Ryan Knuppel: Yeah. So you’re powering, business sites or sports-related business sites that really want to have an edge and add some of this data. That makes total sense. From looking at what you’re doing, you’re doing a great job to start here. One thing I wanted to bring up… We’ll shift gears a little bit. We’ll talk a little more about SportsInput throughout this conversation. So you’re out on LinkedIn quite a bit. You individually. And I wanted to tell you that I really enjoy some of the stuff you put out there. So you guys, listeners, PJ, Laferla. If you’re looking to just follow sports betting information, data, takes, I mean you have some hot takes out there that I really enjoy. Where did that come from? And is that just something you enjoy doing? Or is that part of your strategy to build your business, or what? Do you just enjoy being out there on social media and LinkedIn.
PJ Laferla: Well, it’s a little bit of everything. And as an avid sports betting advocate like yourself, you know. Every day there’s excitement that’s around the world of sports betting. But at the end of the day LinkedIn is obviously viewed as a professional business, kind of Facebook for business individuals. And you would never think that that would be a fit. I don’t know about you, but every day there’s news in my feed on LinkedIn regarding a new partnership around sports betting. And even a company like FOX partnered with the Stars Group.
PJ Laferla: So there’s quite a few… There’s a lot of activity I should say around the sports betting world that I’m seeing on LinkedIn. So I jumped in and I try to give insightful posts about what’s happening in the world of sports betting. A majority of the times it’s centered around odds on teams and different leagues. And a lot of times it’s on the business side of sports betting. For instance, if I recall yesterday, one of my posts was there are now one in five adult Americans living in a state that offers sports betting. I mean if you actually think about how powerful that is, I think that’s a good message to get out to the network. And again, it’s not… I’m not posting free winners or trying to sell picks or anything. I’m trying to…
PJ Laferla: Yeah, I’ll give relevant information. And something like that I thought was very relevant. Then there’s other times where I’ll post… This morning I put a bunch of futures that centered around the Green Bay Packers. Now, why did I pick the Green Bay Packers? No particular reason at all. Tomorrow, it could be the Cleveland Browns, the next day it could be baseball. But again, I’m just trying to have fun with it and trying to stay relevant and keep sports betting, constantly go.
Ryan Knuppel: Well, and that’s kind of where I’m going with this conversation is that, and I’m glad you’re having the same experience I am on LinkedIn. Because people listening to this show, who knows where they’re coming from, but they’re interested in sports betting in general. And I think a lot of times when you get out on social media, Instagram and Facebook and stuff like that, you’re just getting hit over the head with crap. You’re getting hit over the head with touting and buy my pick and do this, and just junk. And I’ve really found LinkedIn to be, like you said, professional, news-related, relevant to this industry that we’re all trying to learn and love.
Ryan Knuppel: So you’re contributing to that as I’m trying to do as well. And so I guess I’m just trying to urge onto listeners, LinkedIn is pretty valuable from a learning and news perspective in the industry that you’re into. It’s not just for finding a job. When I think of LinkedIn I used to think, “Oh that’s where I go if I really want to try to find a job.” Now I’m going there to learn about this craft that we call sports betting, learn about the industry from a news perspective. So I’m glad you’re having the same experience. I thought you probably were.
PJ Laferla: Yeah. I would actually like to make one more point on LinkedIn that I think is very important. Especially if there’s some people that have reluctancy or still look down or frown upon sports betting. Before I made this a full-time career, I had a background working for professional sports teams. I worked for the Anaheim Angels quite a few years back. They were still Anaheim before they became L.A., I worked in the NFL for the San Diego Chargers. And while I was on the business side of those organizations, just the mere mention of betting would probably be grounds for termination. You know?
PJ Laferla: And before legal sports betting became what it is now and constantly growing. I was a little fearful because working in sports is very small niche. It’s just very easy. There’s a lot of people out there. It’s a very small industry to work to in, believe it or not. Even though it’s a very big industry. And I was a little reluctant to make those kind of posts. But it’s a legal component of what’s happening in America. I mean, New Jersey took in $3 billion in bets in its first year. Who could dispute that? How can you frown upon something like that? It’s obviously working.
Ryan Knuppel: Yeah. And just imagine when these big, big, big states, I’m not saying New Jersey is not a big state, but imagine when California, Texas, Florida, some of these states really get going. Illinois, another one that once it really gets going, there’s just massive amounts of people that are going to be interested in it. So, yeah, for sure. I think you’re right. I think it’s definitely changing and for the better for us and for people that enjoy sports. So that’s cool.
PJ Laferla: Yeah. When the leagues are doing partnership deals with the gaming partners, you know you’re okay.
Ryan Knuppel: Yeah. You know, times have changed when you start seeing those. And we have, we’ve been seeing that kind of news. Every month it seems like another big partnership with a league or just a announcements of two companies hooking up together of major sorts. So, pretty cool. On that same note, I’ll put you on the spot a little bit here. So every day we see new information about a new bill that’s being released or a new bill that’s into legislature. And they’re looking at it to legalize sports in some other new state. By the end of, let’s say 2022. So let’s say in three years, how many states do you think we have legalized sports betting in? Put you on the spot there.
PJ Laferla: Before I get into a definitive number, I just saw something that I really thought was interesting just the other day and it broke down states that were legal, states that are, I guess for a lack of better terms in the process of moving forward with legalization. And essentially states that haven’t done anything at all. So the, the numbers were pretty significant in favor of legalizing sports betting all around the country. I’ve got to say 50 to 60% at least.
Ryan Knuppel: In three years?
PJ Laferla: [inaudible 00:15:20] I don’t know if that’s conservative or not. It just-
Ryan Knuppel: Well, we’re all guessing here. I just wanted to get your off the cuff thoughts on how quickly you thought this will move. Is this something that… My thought process is after this football season, I think… I mean not that states don’t realize how big this is going to be yet, but maybe they don’t yet until after a football season when they see… Okay New Jersey is bringing in a handle of, you know, whatever now. But wait until they go through a big football season and they see how much handles coming in. These other states are going to really open their eyes and be like, “Oh crap, you know, we can’t ignore this any longer.” Which, I’m sure they have people in their state saying that already. It’s just getting the right people to open their eyes to it. So I don’t know, I just wanted to get your thoughts on how quickly you thought it would move and you know, at half. 50 to 60% in three years, I think is a fair assessment. I tend to agree with that.
PJ Laferla: Yeah. And you know, the other thing you’ve got to consider, guys like you and I who have our pulse on the industry in general, are following that more closely. It’s the betters that live in these states, in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. They could probably, could care less as long as their state’s legalized.
Ryan Knuppel: Yeah. Driving down the road and placing a bet. They don’t care if the other stuff happens. Exactly. That’s a good point, great point. But what about the big states? And I say big states… When I say big states I keep thinking of California, Texas, Florida. What are the chances of those, I guess, those three in particular coming on board anytime soon. Are you hearing anything about those three states?
PJ Laferla: I thought California was in the news recently about putting a bill together. Coming from a guy who lived in California for 15 years, it doesn’t surprise me that it’s taken so long. I mean, their political views on everything and laws. They did a great job with the medical marijuana several years ago, but I think it’s going to happen. I don’t know if it’s going to be within the next 12 months, maybe by next college and pro football season. I don’t know. Florida is also a little politically odd to me. But I’m also surprised that that state has not yet joined the fray of all the other ones. Yeah, basically just the same with Texas. I don’t know where I’m getting this from, but I just think California would really out of those three become legal first.
Ryan Knuppel: Yeah. No. I think you’re probably right along the same lines of what I’m thinking. That I’m seeing most of the news of bill proposals and things like that from California. I know Florida, obviously the big hangup is the Indian tribes and that type of thing that are controlling that casino space right now. And so there’s going to have to be some sort of agreement and talk through all of that to get into Florida. Which I’m selfishly hoping happens here, living in Florida myself. And then Texas, I’m not hearing a lot about. But yeah, I mean I would think it’s a huge sports state, man. There’s major, major professional teams there. Got to be a lot of big betting interest down there. So I would think it’d be huge there.
PJ Laferla: Well, you know what else those three states have in common? Which is kind of ironic. You drive two hours in any direction in California, you’re still in California. You drive two, three hours in Texas any direction, you’re still in Texas. My point is… And the same of Florida. Florida is very underrated, people don’t realize how big the state of Florida is.
Ryan Knuppel: Yeah. Especially lengthwise. Right? You go up and down.
PJ Laferla: But my point to that is, okay, so New Jersey and Pennsylvania are kind of joining states, but it’s very easy on the east coast of the map to drive. If your state doesn’t have something like taking legal sports bets, to drive to the area to make those bets. And in those areas, California, you got to jump on a plane or take a six hour ride to Vegas to place a bet, you know?
Ryan Knuppel: Right. Yeah, that’s a great point.
PJ Laferla: Yeah. That’s something that should not be underestimated because that really holds a lot of value one way or the other. So I just wanted to make that point.
Ryan Knuppel: No, that’s a great point. I never really thought about that. You know up in those northeast states? Yeah, you’re right. People living in Connecticut can drive two minutes across whatever to a different state. I mean, very simple. But you got these massive states. [crosstalk 00:20:37] Yeah, you’re right.
PJ Laferla: Yeah. I mean even Maryland. Maryland had for some reason, they pushed back their sports betting bill for about a year. But if you want to take ride to New Jersey or Delaware or Pennsylvania, you could achieve that without spending hours, and hours, and hours in the car.
Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, for sure. Hey, so do you do anything, and this is a kind of an off topic question, but I was just curious, do you do anything in the esports space and does that pique your interest at all, or are you completely out of esports?
PJ Laferla: You know, the short answer to that before explaining is no. I did look into it. I know it’s huge. I know it’s big. I know it’s forever growing. I know there’s a lot of resources and capital that are being poured into it. I had made a decision where I think between the big six sports, and MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL and the two college, I felt like I had enough meat on the bone to move forward with my concept, to take on. I’m unfamiliar with esports as far as all the ins and outs. I don’t know it as well as I know traditional sports betting. And perhaps I’m missing out on something, but I think I want to grow the business that I have now, and then look at other products offerings. But right now I’m not involved in esports in any way.
Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, and that’s fair enough. That’s kind of how I am as well. I have this kind of interest in it, right? It’s not my passion, it’s not what I love, but like you said, I see it as so big. And I see it as the up and coming thing. It’s not like I don’t see that. It’s just, man, you can’t tackle everything, right? You have to pick your battles in this space because there’s really so many different angles you could go. So many different ways of working in sports in general.
Ryan Knuppel: And so esports is kind of one of those things on the outside of my thing as well. But I do find a lot of interest in it. And I guess the major news and just seeing how big this is going to be. And I guess looking, I have three younger kids and they’re playing these games and doing all this stuff and I’m always, “You guys are wasting your time.” You know, whatever. And they’re like, “Well dad, somebody just won $3 million in esports.” And I’m like, “Ah!” It’s crushing my point to them. So I just find it an interesting space. I was curious if you had I guess, any stake in that area or not.
PJ Laferla: Yeah, and I appreciate you asking that and I’m kind of glad you brought that up because you could nitpick your way through traditional sports betting as well. And what I mean by that is that I had a conversation with a pretty prominent figure in the sports betting business. And we were going back and forth and I was flattered that he was impressed with my sports betting expertise. And he kind of pointed out that I didn’t really talk about live bettings as much as everything else.
PJ Laferla: And it’s just to the point that you were making about esports. Somebody wants to point out what you don’t have instead of what you do have. And I’m talking to this guy and we’re talking futures and we’re talking odds, and we’re talking different kinds of bets. And this is something that’s really important that would be good for the show. And when I further asked him about the live betting, he gave me a pretty impressive stat. He felt like within the next couple of years, over 50% maybe 60% of the bets that are being placed are going to be live betting bets. So I found that pretty interesting as well. But again, that’s something that I’m not really touching on. It happens so fast.
PJ Laferla: There’s really no handicap. You can’t research it as well as you can when a game that’s prefixed with odds. You just can’t do it. You know, you just, you just can’t do it. But it’s just, it’s funny that you bring that up because even though they’re two totally different animals, it was an analogy that I wanted to make.
Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, a very good analogy too. And you know I’ve been in those same conversations and many of these conferences that I’ve been to over the last few months, live betting is one of the big topics. And a lot of these, I guess data companies that are integrating with sports books and really trying to power the sports books. That’s at the forefront of what they’re doing is making sure they’re on top of this live odds. And being able to quickly change these things on demand. My brain just goes crazy thinking about how you have to be able to do that so quickly, and how that works. And I think it’s very interesting and I do agree. I think live betting is going to be the future, because people love instant gratification.
Ryan Knuppel: People love the fact that, “Man, I can make a bet and it can win or lose in 10 seconds.” That’s a crazy thought and people are in this… We all live in this, “Show me the money right now culture,” that I just think live betting is going to be the future. But yeah, it’s hard to, it’s impossible to handicap. You just can’t keep up with it. So you have to probably, if you’re going to be a good live better, you really need to more just understand the sport, understand, I guess the game situations and things of that nature. I mean, we’re kind of getting off topic here. But that’s another conversation we could probably have. You know, how to become a good live better. But it is intriguing.
PJ Laferla: Yeah. And I won’t harp on it too much longer, but I just think if I could give anybody out there at tip, it would just be take the dog. I mean hockey is probably fourth on the list of the sports when you’re talking about betting, at least from an interest standpoint. But you know, just as an example, a one 60 [inaudible 00:27:20] that comes out of the gates that’s losing two nothing that all of a sudden is like a plus 500 on the dog.
Ryan Knuppel: Right.
PJ Laferla: And turns out to win the game, you know, 7/3 or something ridiculous. That to me is like… But again, that’s not really what sports betting to me is. If you’re truly looking at sports betting as a business, yeah. I would have live betting as one element, but not the element.
Ryan Knuppel: No. Yeah 100% for sure. Definitely. Well cool man. Well, I mean I can sit here and talk this all day long. I really could and I hope to have you back on and maybe we can talk a little more specific topics. Maybe on a regular basis because I think you and I could have some really good in depth conversations. Obviously you’re very knowledgeable in this space and like I said, I love following some of the stuff you put out there so I do appreciate that. For the sake of time, I try to keep these things under 30 minutes or so. Let’s circle back and I want to hear any last words I guess or anything about SportsInput that you wanted to make sure our listeners understood or heard.
PJ Laferla: And I appreciate the plug. But we’re just trying to be the leading cornerstone of the go-to for sports betting data statistics. And again it’s all from a betting perspective 100%. Not some of it like some of the other competition out there. So I appreciate you asking about that again. And just like you said, follow us on all our social media outlets, our @sportsinput, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram even. So it’s probably, it’s pretty easy to find out. You know how some companies will have a different variation for one reason or another, but we’re at SportsInput on all social media outlets.
Ryan Knuppel: Awesome @sportsinput. And then also I’m going to urge once more, PJ Laferla find him on LinkedIn. If you haven’t already. If you’re interested in the sports betting space, definitely find him out there. And we can all comment together on some of this exciting news that continues to pour out around our industry.
PJ Laferla: Thank you so much for me on your show. I really enjoyed it.
Ryan Knuppel: Absolutely PJ, I appreciate you coming on, and we will do this again. So let’s get something on the schedule and we’ll do it again. So with that said, I appreciate you being here and have a great rest of the week.
PJ Laferla: Awesome. Thank you Ryan. Bye-bye.
Ryan Knuppel: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Knup Sports show. If you enjoyed this podcast, please consider subscribing to our iTunes channel today. Plus visit us at knupsports.com for more picks, previews strategy and news. That’s K-N-U-P sports.com.
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