The passionate online community known as Gambling Twitter has long been an intense battleground full of gamblers, bookmakers, scammers and trolls.
For years bettors and bookmakers have relentlessly pot-shot each other, all the while eagerly awaiting the next tweet from a little college beat writer or a WNBA player posting a telltale emoji. Meanwhile, scammers, promising insider information and guaranteed locks, hide behind random anonymous accounts ready to take advantage of the gullible, and trolls ready to attack anyone who doesn’t meet their standards.
People love that. And, now, with the spread of legal betting spreading rapidly, Gambling Twitter is on the rise.
In February, according to Twitter, the top hashtag included in Super Bowl sports betting tweets between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals wasn’t #ramsnation or #whodey — it was #GamblingTwitter.
“Hashtag Gambling Twitter is one thing,” Mike Dupree, director of media and entertainment for Twitter, told ESPN. “I don’t think we can drop it, but it’s definitely something that has its own identity and community, which is great to see.”
Twitter, for the first time, is releasing internal data and commenting on the prevalence of sports betting content on the social media platform. The data was collected by Twitter Insiders Studies and comes from a sample of people 18 years of age or older who have bet on sports in the past 12 months, live in a state where sports betting is legal, and use at least a social media platform.
The study found that seven out of 10 punters surveyed are on Twitter and the conversation on the social media platform drives punters to bet more frequently and place bigger bets. Additionally, according to data provided to ESPN by Twitter:
• 62% of bettors on Twitter place bets weekly and spend 15% more on bets each year compared to bettors on other social media platforms.
• 72% of bettors take to Twitter to track the status of their live bets once they’ve been placed, and 65% say they’re more motivated to bet on a big event everyone’s talking about on social media.
• 51% of bettors on Twitter started betting less than two years ago.
“We’ve already seen more people tweet about sports betting this year than we did in 2021, and the NFL season hasn’t even started,” Dupree said.
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How Bookmakers Use Twitter
Ed Salmons, a veteran Las Vegas bookie in his mid-30s, was introduced to Twitter by a colleague around 2009, and after discovering TweetDeck – a platform that lets you create multiple, organized feeds on the same screen – recognized the value of the tool this could be for bookmakers. Seven years later, Salmons took to Twitter to put his bookmaker in an advantageous position during a Thanksgiving game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
On Monday, Nov. 21, 2016, Salmons and the Las Vegas SuperBook team had just kicked off the opening lines for Week 12 of the NFL season when a Colts writer tweeted about the quarterback from IndianapolisAndrew Luck.
The chance had been squandered the day before against the Tennessee Titans but ended the game. The Colts beat writer’s tweet wasn’t straightforward, but Salmons said he read between the lines and walked away thinking Luck was unlikely to play against the Steelers on Thursday.
With most sports betting sitting at Steelers -3, Salmons moved the SuperBook line to -7. Some competing sportsbooks responded by removing the game from the board, while other stores held Pittsburgh -3. Bettors, meanwhile, began throwing bets on the Colts at +7 at the SuperBook, thinking they were getting a good deal on the price difference.
“In a situation like that, when you see it and you know it, it’s good for the book to basically try to get ahead of it, because we knew that line was going to be on the other side of seven once it’s out,” Salmons said. “So we had a lot of money on the Colts and then the news broke.”
Luck ruled out, Pittsburgh finished about 8 points behind. The Steelers beat the Colts 28-7.
Salmons is constantly monitoring his TweetDeck these days, looking for news. He often puts quarterbacks’ names in the search function to keep tabs on injury status and also searches live weather reports. At the same time, he knows he has to be careful not to get duped by Twitter scammers who amuse themselves by creating profiles that replicate those of traditional journalists and tricking people with fake news.
“I think at some point everyone got duped with the fake accounts,” Salmons said. “To me, you have a chance to get it wrong, and then after that you have to verify that what you see is actually true. I think for the most part we did a good job with that.”
Bettors should also beware of scammers on Twitter. For example, accounts claiming to hold inside information regarding “fixed games” have regularly been posted in betting-related threads, asking for money in exchange for the details.
“Where there are bad actors on Twitter, we continue to implement tools to ensure a safe experience for sports bettors on the platform,” Dupree said. “One thing to start with is that before placing tip-based bets on Twitter, sports bettors should take a quick look at the account and ask if it is a reliable source of information. “Is it verified? Have you looked at their bio, their There’s work we need to do as bettors to make sure we’re following legit and trusted sources.”
Hint: Anyone claiming to have information about a patched game and selling it for $50 on Twitter is probably not a legit and reliable source.
How Bettors Use Twitter
Data published by Twitter shows that punters of all levels use the platform to help their handicap. Some assiduously search for the latest information; others are simply looking to follow the picks of popular betting personalities and chat about the action as the games unfold. Even sophisticated betting syndicates rely heavily on Twitter.
Right Angle Sports (RAS) is one of the most influential betting syndicates in the US market. It includes 10 handicappers distributed in different regions of the country. As part of their handicapping routine, they watch social media closely for news, and when bets go RAS, the lines move instantly and often dramatically in sportsbooks around the world. Some of these line move bets may be triggered in part by, among other things, an emoji posted by a player on Twitter.
“One of the weirdest skills we’ve learned as a team in the past few years is deciphering emojis,” Edward Golden of RAS, who prefers impersonating Edward, told ESPN. “I can’t tell you how many times a month one of our team members will post a gamer tweet and it’s just an emoji. It could be one of those red face emojis. Or a brain exploding emoji. Or a blue heart. But either way, emojis mean different things coming from different players. We’ll have times when a WNBA player, for example, won’t post anything other than one of those angry faces. And you start thinking, ‘Oh, man, did she go out? Did she get hurt? it all the time. She’s probably just complaining about a late flight.”
Needless to say, there’s a lot more to RAS bets than emoji translations. RAS handicappers are quick to spot – and assess – hard-hitting news, although Edward says these days news seems to regularly hit the betting market before it lands on Twitter. But social media is still a valuable tool for RAS, just not in the way you might think.
“Every current team member – every one of them – we found online through some form of social media,” Edward said. “Back then, you found unknown talent on betting forums and chat rooms. Nowadays, it’s all on Twitter.
“There are so many obscure or undercapitalized initiators out there doing good work, who clearly have an advantage, and yet no one knows who they are, despite their obvious potential,” he added. “We’re always looking for that person. Always. We’ve had the chance to hire serious talent using Twitter and have seen people become integral parts of our team as we improve.”
Growth of Twitter in Sports Betting
Sports betting is among the top growth areas on Twitter, growing 300% over the past four years and making it comparable to rising categories like cryptocurrency and NFTs, according to Dupree.
“[Sports betting] might not have the set and the story and the scale because it’s more of a recent phenomenon, but we’ve seen the sports betting conversation reflect that hyper growth very well over the last two years,” said said Dupree.
The explosion in popularity of sports betting on Twitter coincides with the widespread expansion of legal sports betting in the United States. In 2018, the United States Supreme Court ruled that all states could choose to allow sports betting. Since the decision, 31 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have launched legal betting markets. More than $147 billion has been wagered with legal sportsbooks in the United States over the past four years, generating nearly $10.6 billion in taxable revenue, according to the American Gaming Association.
Sportsbooks leverage the influence of Twitter for branding purposes, building a lot of followings by showcasing unlikely bets that hit and announcing special offers for bettors like odds boosts. Sportsbooks also use their partnerships with professional sports leagues like Major League Baseball and the NBA to post highlights with a betting round. FanDuel’s sports betting account @FDSportsbook has over 214,000 subscribers; DraftKings’ @DKSportsbook has over 158,000 subscribers.
“Countless sports fans and bettors avidly search and interact in real time on Twitter, underscoring the platform’s effectiveness for customer growth and retention strategies at DraftKings,” said Stephanie Sherman, Director of marketing at DraftKings.
The Twitter study found that the most popular type of bet was against the spread, followed by parlays and money-line bets. Punters surveyed said odds boosts – where sportsbooks offer improved odds on specific bets – and the fear of missing out on a bet that everyone is discussing were motivating factors when deciding to bet.
“Twitter is considered the biggest sports bar in the world. You want to share the excitement with other fans,” Dupree said. “Well, you can almost consider that Twitter is becoming the biggest sports betting site in the world, not in terms of betting, but where people come to talk about the action and follow their bets.”