Listen in as industry news expert Steve Ruddock joins the Knup Sports Show to talk about New York, Massachusetts and other states. Steve is a lead analyst for BettingUSA.com!

Ryan Knuppel

Hey, what’s going on everybody, Ryan Knuppel here, Knup Sports show, episode 151. Thanks so much for tuning in today. It is a cold day here in Orlando, Florida, and by cold, I mean 39 degrees Fahrenheit, so I know all of you living up north in the United States are not feeling any pity for me today. But it is cold to me here in Florida, wearing a sweatshirt, my Gator shirt, going from there. So, hey, appreciate everybody tuning in. We always talk to great guests in the industry, the sports betting industry, the iGaming industry. We love to feature people that are making an impact and doing great things in this industry, and today we have another awesome special guest. Before I dive into our guest, I want to encourage you guys that are watching live, wherever you’re watching, please leave comments, leave questions. If you have questions for the guest, please leave them, we’ll put them up on screen and we will address those as we go. All right. Without further ado, I’m going to bring on our guest today, Steve Ruddock, BettingUSA.com. Steve, how are you?

Steve Ruddock

Good. How’s it going?

Ryan Knuppel

Doing really well today. Thanks for joining me, I appreciate it. I know I was complaining about the cold to you earlier, you didn’t have any sympathy for me. What’s the temperature like for you today?

Steve Ruddock

Today’s not too, too bad. I think we’re in the twenties, but yeah, it’s been really cold up here in Massachusetts.

Ryan Knuppel

Yeah, I bet. I bet. Florida gets that nice weather and we have a good reputation for weather, but man, when it isn’t, it’s painful. So anyway, let’s dive right in, Steve. Hey, tell the audience a little bit about yourself before we dive into what you’re up to today in this gaming space. I want to hear a little bit about you and your background in the iGaming world.

Steve Ruddock

Sure. So, kind of a rollercoaster ride for me. Started out as a poker player. Excuse me. Pre-boom, so 1999 was when I first started getting into poker.

Ryan Knuppel

Sure.

Steve Ruddock

Did that up to about 2006. Started a family. So I… Excuse me. I have a little bit of a-

Ryan Knuppel

Oh, you’re good.

Steve Ruddock

Sore throat. I have a little bit of a sore throat today. Yeah. Started a family. And I wasn’t a very emotionally stable poker player, so ended up leaving the industry for a bit. Went back to my original job, which was, I used to manage health clubs.

Ryan Knuppel

Oh, cool.

Steve Ruddock

Did that for a few years, got back into poker a little bit around 2009. But I started writing a bit, and around then I really started getting into the legislation, what was going on with online poker, especially at the time. That just morphed over the years into what I do now, which is analyst, any type of commentary for the industry. Yeah. It’s been a really weird ride going from poker to casino, now sports betting. Yeah, it’s interesting.

Ryan Knuppel

I tell you what, I mean, I understand your path and your flow because, I mean, back in the day, back when poker was booming here in the United States, that was all the talk. All the attention was on legalization news around poker. And now we’re, fast forward 10, 15 years, and now it’s like repeat, but now we’re doing it in the sports betting world and it’s the same conversations in the sports betting world. So, I definitely understand your path there.

Steve Ruddock

Yeah. The crazy thing was, when New Jersey first legalized in 2013, everybody thought online poker was the big opportunity. That turned out not to be the case, I think casino won the day there. And really sunk the first company, so ultimate gaming.

Ryan Knuppel

Yeah.

Steve Ruddock

They poured a ton of money into the poker side of it and just never got any returns and closed up shop pretty quick.

Ryan Knuppel

Yeah. That’s crazy. That’s amazing. So, today, doing analyst stuff, you’re obviously very close to what’s going on in the legalization of sports betting in the United States. Tell us a little bit about who you’re working with today and just what type of things you’re writing about or you’re covering.

Steve Ruddock

Yeah, sure. So, my main job is the content director at BettingUSA.com, a resource site affiliate for the industry. Same as most others. We have a… We’re a smaller outfit, so we do a little bit more in-depth writing. We don’t usually beat the big boys to the story, they usually can get those pumped out because they have specific people on those beats. But we try to take it a little bit further and go into a little more detail with the story. I use my experience, so 13 years now, to try to add some color to whatever story we’re working on there.

Ryan Knuppel

Yeah. I think that’s important, Steve. I mean, it’s an important note to make, and that’s something that I’ve really respected about reading your columns. Being in the sports content business myself, the work that you do isn’t just your surfacing work, you try to take whatever you’re writing about and that topic and take it to another level. And I know you mentioned it, but it’s something that I wanted to make sure to touch on because I think it’s something that other aspiring journalists and people in this space can really take note of. That sometimes you need to take it to another level, and that’s what gets readers, that’s what keeps readers engaged, taking them to another level of reading. So, something I really respect that you do at BettingUSA.com.

Steve Ruddock

Appreciate that. Yeah. It’s definitely an important part of everything. But when I started out, it wasn’t like that. So, whoever’s doing it now, just realize it just comes with experience.

Ryan Knuppel

Yeah, absolutely. And everybody has their different styles and things of that nature. So, I popped up BettingUSA.com here for those of you watching, you can check out the site, head out there, there’s content everywhere. You can follow Steve’s stuff out there, and I know they’re doing other stuff as well, all sorts of great stuff over here on BettingUSA. So, let’s move on and talk a little bit about the legalization in the US. Okay. So, obviously we’ve had some huge news coming out of New York here recently. It’s been all the buzz in this industry, with New York finally going mobile. It was always a controversy in the beginning when New York legalized, but didn’t go mobile. And we’re like, what? Come on. It’s only a matter of time. Why? Just go mobile from the beginning. They finally figured it out. Their mobile is now live and active in New York. Any thoughts on that?

Steve Ruddock

Yeah. That was a difficult state. They have a very strange constitutional law about gambling. So, they snuck in some sports betting legislation when they expanded their casino gambling, that was before the pass for repeal, so it was almost like a premeditated live. And then Mississippi did the same thing, Pennsylvania. So, it was strange to see them take the approach they did with mobile betting. I thought they might need a constitutional amendment for that. But as I always tell people, if nobody challenges the law, then it doesn’t matter. So, they did, they got it. They got it passed, crazy law with a lot of operator burdens, but didn’t seem like it turned too many people away. So far so good. It looks like they’re doing pretty well, based on the scant data we have so far, which basic geo location, targeting, a couple operators have given out some very small preliminary numbers. Yeah. It’s a really good market. My big thing with New York is, I really am interested in what it does to New Jersey.

Ryan Knuppel

Yeah. I definitely agree with that because, I mean, that was all the buzz. And the talk was that people in New York can just go right over the bridge and be in New Jersey and make their mobile bets. And so, it’s probably going to put a little hit on New Jersey. I’m guessing it’s not do or die, going to break them, but they’re definitely going to see some impact from it, that’s for sure.

Steve Ruddock

Yeah. I’ve seen estimates, 20 to 25% of New York handle is from New Jersey. They speculated about this recently, which is, will those big betters, the people who are generating a lot of that handle, it might only be a hundred people-

Ryan Knuppel

Yeah.

Steve Ruddock

Are they still going to go over to New Jersey? Because they’re being wooed in by the same operators, you have the same operators in both states. So, if they’re charging 51% tax in New York and 13 in New Jersey, they’ll be like, hey, come over to New Jersey, we’ll put you up in a suite, push your bets there.

Ryan Knuppel

Yep.

Steve Ruddock

It’ll be interesting. But I always say this, when I’m talking about, if I have to buy something for the house, I got to do some kind of repair or something, it’s like, whatever the price is, just add an extra 20% to it. So, if that 20 to 25% number is accurate, it might actually be a 30%, 33%.

Ryan Knuppel

Yeah. Interesting, interesting. Yeah. Well, we’ll see what have with New York. I mean, everybody’s expecting huge things from them, and obviously one of the most populated states and biggest states, and lots of professional sports and things going on there, so I think it’s going to be nothing but good. Let’s switch up and talk a little bit about your home state. I’m curious, what’s going on with Massachusetts in regards to legalization efforts there for them?

Steve Ruddock

Yeah. So, we’re entering our, basically, our fourth year of doing this, as typical Massachusetts. It’s the path we always take. Everybody thinks, oh, it’s a perfect candidate state, but it’s Massachusetts. I always explain it to people as, it’s a very, very liberal state, but it’s got a Puritan streak from our founding. So, it was a lot of sin, anything that deals with sin is still a little out of whack up here.

Ryan Knuppel

Interesting. Yeah. Okay.

Steve Ruddock

And the best example I always give is, tattooing was made legal in 2000.

Ryan Knuppel

Oh.

Steve Ruddock

Before the year 2000, you had to drive to Rhode Island or New Hampshire to get tattooed.

Ryan Knuppel

Interesting. Yeah.

Steve Ruddock

Yeah. So yeah, I mean, it looked good last year, it’s looking good this year. The only thing that’s upsetting things this year is the elections. So, we have, Governor Baker’s not running again, so we’re going to have a new governor. It depends on who it is, what their platforms are. If a couple front runners emerge early on, most likely it’ll be a Democrat. I haven’t seen any strong Republican candidate declare. Massachusetts weirdly elects Republican governors, even though the legislature’s, I think, 85% Democrat. Just one of those weird, weird things that we do up here.

Steve Ruddock

Yeah. It looks like it’ll be a Democrat, I think, if she declares. The current attorney general is pretty good, pretty good candidate. Not really sure where she stands on gambling. She went after DFS pretty hard back in the day, when that first started coming around. So, it’ll be interesting, I think, that will really, really play into how it plays out in the legislature. One of the big senators who’s been pushing sports betting, Lesser, Eric Lesser, he’s actually thinking about running for lieutenant governor too. So, that might take away a key person in the legislature.

Ryan Knuppel

Man, every time I talk and listen to guys like yourself, that really understand this space, it just really opens my eyes to how complex all of this really is here in the United States. We’re not only talking about different laws in every state, but then it’s like, well, who’s elected and who’s not elected. And so, there’s all these different layers that you have to peel back just to get different things to happen in different states. And sports betting being legalized is just one of those many things that are part of those discussions. But it’s just, for those maybe that aren’t from the United States and listening to this and try to understand how complex this actually is. It’s a puzzle, isn’t it? It’s just a puzzle.

Steve Ruddock

Yeah. Every state is so different. I mean, one of the things you have to really think about when we’re dealing with this is, what gambling exists in the state already? I think that’s an often overlooked thing. And if you have… So, Pennsylvania has, well at the time, when they were passing their iGaming law, they had 12 casinos, now they have 13. It’s 12 casinos. And so, each district that one of those casinos is in, they have an outsized influence on gambling policy without legislator. And then there’s also border districts. So, typically what happens is, casinos will pay a certain amount of money to the town they’re located in, but also communities around there, surrounding communities. It’s like a host community tax in a surrounding community, so you might be a budding now into 25 districts. It has so much outside influence, and a very smart person over a decade ago told me if you dig a billion dollar hole in the ground and employ 5,000 people, you have a lot of say over gambling policy in the state.

Ryan Knuppel

That’s a good analogy.

Steve Ruddock

It’s generally how it works with these things. And then, of course, I think the number one thing with any state is, does the state need money? But the state doesn’t need money, which none of them really do right now just because of the way the federal government has been subsidizing them. It makes it a little harder, especially in an election year. That’s not so much true anymore. Five years ago that would’ve been the only thing people would be like, no gambling legislation in election year. Now, it’s not quite true, but it still plays a role, especially if money’s not an issue.

Ryan Knuppel

Interesting, interesting. All right, we’re going to shift down south real quick. I’d be upset with myself if I didn’t talk a little bit about my home state here, Florida, and what they have going on. We all know a little bit of the background and the history of what’s been going on here. We thought we had it legalized, and then obviously there was some lawsuits that came about, got reversed. Now, you se I mean, I just been seeing some things about, oh, DraftKings is pushing all of these people to try to get on a petition and they’re giving out incentives to people in Florida who are going to be a part of this effort to push it. Where are we at in Florida? For those of us that want it to legalize here, any insight to where we’re at here? And can we still be hopeful that something may work out?

Steve Ruddock

Yeah. I mean, the compact between the Seminoles and the state was pretty problematic from the beginning. You start delving into where does a bet take place, and you open up a very large can of worms that nobody really wants to open. If a bet takes place at the server, then if I place a bet from Taiwan, but it goes through the Florida, isn’t that a bet in Florida? What’s the difference? If I’m in Taiwan, if I’m in Tallahassee or if I’m in Boston, there’s no difference if you say the bet takes place at a server. So, that’s a can of worms that nobody really wants to deal with. And if you go the opposite way with it and you say, well, a bet takes place at both ends, then you’ve just kneecaped any tribal online gambling efforts. So, pretty, pretty tough compact there. I’m surprised it just didn’t go the way of Arizona, Connecticut, Michigan, licensed them as commercial online operators. Would’ve been much easier.

Steve Ruddock

As far as the DraftKings, a lot of signatures they still got to collect. I mean, it’s close. They could do it, theoretically. It’s one of those things, like Patriots won against the Falcons, Super Bowl. There’s enough possessions where they could do it. They happen to do it that time, but it’s not likely. I mean, Portnoy sent out his little emergency press conferences, I think that’s going to have more of an impact to maybe generating people that weren’t aware of this in the first place. But I was looking at those, they weren’t super popular tweets of his, they were decent, they were better than normal. I think it was about 5,000 when I looked and his normal tweets are around two. But then his Patriots press was 25.

Ryan Knuppel

Yeah. That guy, man, he has a following and he has an opinion always.

Steve Ruddock

Yeah, I’m from Massachusetts, I’m very, very familiar with [inaudible 00:16:39] from the beginning.

Ryan Knuppel

Yeah.

Steve Ruddock

Yeah. It’s up here, everybody knows what it is. Little different than around the country, but yeah. I mean, if it gets there, then it’s still going to go on the ballot, and then you still got to get some type of legislation pass that’s going to govern it. There’s a lot of steps in that process. So, this is the first step. If you fall through it at the first step, it’s probably the best thing that could happen for Florida, because I don’t see how it gets over the finish line anyway.

Ryan Knuppel

Yep.

Steve Ruddock

I think the best thing that could happen is, the Seminoles lose their appeal. They go back to the drawing board, they keep the parts of the compact that work, the retail betting, whatever else. And then they just come up with an Arizona type policy where tribes are licenses commercial operators.

Ryan Knuppel

Well, just keep my fingers crossed and all hope here. All I can do is give my signature where needed, but I really hope something can happen here in Florida. Well, Steve, I don’t want to keep you too long, I know you’re a busy man. You probably got plenty of coverage to go make happen out here in this industry, but I personally want to thank you for everything you do for the industry. I live and breathe this industry myself and I always respect people like yourself that do the same, and that really are putting a spotlight on this industry that we all love. So, definitely want to thank you for that.

Steve Ruddock

Yeah. Much appreciated. And likewise, like what you’re doing, a lot of good info.

Ryan Knuppel

Amazing.

Steve Ruddock

It was nice meeting you in Vegas a couple years back.

Ryan Knuppel

Those are always my favorite times. I love going to those events and meeting people like yourself, and hopefully next time we’ll actually be able to hang out a little more and do some things. But those events get crazy. You’re running here and there and always all over the place.

Steve Ruddock

Have you ever met somebody and their full picture of them doesn’t match their profile picture? They’re just way taller or way shorter. They’re like, “Oh, you look much bigger in that profile picture you took.” Or you’re like, “Oh wow. You’re 65, you’re using your high school graduation photo on your profile.”

Ryan Knuppel

Yeah. Yeah, exactly. That’s hilarious. But yeah, I love those events. I know there’s more coming up, so we’ll have to make sure we connect-

Steve Ruddock

Yeah. Yeah, definitely.

Ryan Knuppel

At the next one. So Steve, before we go, any last words, anything else on your mind before we get out of here?

Steve Ruddock

Just, if you or anybody wants to follow me or listen to any of my random commentary, you can follow me on Twitter, I’m @steveruddock. Yeah. Otherwise, BettingUSA.com, good place to find the latest stuff. We don’t post, like I said earlier, we don’t post everything. We curate it to the big stories. So, if that’s all you’re interested in, good website for you.

Ryan Knuppel

One of the things, and now we’re just going again here, but one of the things I love about BettingUSA, not necessarily just the day to day articles, but I think if you really dive in and look at some of the state pages that you guys put together from a resource side of things, I think it’s the best in the industry. I mean, just amazing state by state pages. It just covers what’s going on from every single angle, keeps things up to date. Always love what’s going on there for those. And I don’t know how much of that you are dealing with, but again, from a resource side, BettingUSA.com, those state pages are amazing.

Steve Ruddock

Yeah. We got a great evergreen team that keeps that stuff fresh. I don’t do a lot of that stuff, I’m more on the… The news articles are me. Every now and then I do a tiny little update, but anything good on that end is definitely the other guys. And they’re awesome at that.

Ryan Knuppel

Cool. So, Twitter is where to follow you. I know you’re pretty active out there on Twitter, but any other social channels or anything else or just Twitter’s the place to be?

Steve Ruddock

Twitter’s pretty much it, I’m a little too old for Instagram. Way too old for any TikTok or anything like that.

Ryan Knuppel

No TikTok’s, okay.

Steve Ruddock

Yeah. Twitter’s the place for me.

Ryan Knuppel

Great. Great. All right, Steve. Well, I appreciate your time. And as always, if I can do anything for you, please let me know. I’m looking forward to having you on. Let’s say when Massachusetts gets legal, you’re coming back on and we’ll do a little celebration episode.

Steve Ruddock

Yeah, definitely.

Ryan Knuppel

Or Florida. Florida or Massachusetts, we’ll bring you on and we’ll talk about those happenings.

Steve Ruddock

Awesome. Ryan, thanks so much.

Ryan Knuppel

All right, my friend, take care.

Steve Ruddock

Have a good-

Ryan Knuppel

Hey guys, that was Steve Ruddock of BettingUSA. Steve’s one of the good guys in the industry, I hope you learned a little bit from that. I think he could have talked all day about what’s going on in the United States. I really wanted to go state by state and talk about every state, but a lack of time. We won’t do that today. So, we’ll have Steve back on another time, talk about some other things going on. Make sure you follow him on Twitter. Make sure you head out to BettingUSA.com and check out all the resources they got going on out there. Great site. Appreciate everybody. If you need anything from me, I’m Ryan Knuppel, you can find me on all the social channels @ryanknuppel or @knupsports or whatever. Just look up Knup, K-N-U-P, you’ll find me. So, take care, stay safe until next time. We’ll talk to you later. Have a great one. Bye-bye.

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Knup Sports Show - 151 - Steve Ruddock of BettingUSA.com Talks New York, Massachusetts & Other Legal US Betting News (rectangle)