Category Archives: Daily Payoff Exclusives

More Than $150 Billion Wagered in U.S. According to New Sports Betting Revenue Tracker

More than $150 billion in total sports betting handle has been wagered in the United States since the overturning of Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) according to’s new Sports Betting Revenue Tracker.

The definitive resource for information on sports betting legislation and legalization in the United States, has introduced the all-new revenue database for consumers and sports betting industry leaders who wish to stay on top of the latest handles and sportsbook revenues in states where sports betting is legal.

The first-of-its-kind tracker includes real-time updates on each of the states reported monthly handles (including Washington D.C.), as well as other key figures including gross revenue win rate, gross/adjusted sportsbook revenue, state taxes collected, and the legal betting start date.

Additionally, the tracker provides an overall snapshot highlighting each state’s regulator, tax rate on sportsbook operators, biggest monthly handle to date, and more. The launch of the revenue database follows the success of Sports Handle’s Sports Betting Partnership Tracker, which was launched back in May.

“As more states legalize sports betting and the overall sports handle continues to soar, we saw the need for an all-encompassing resource center for both consumers and industry leaders,” said Brett Smiley, Co-Founder and Editor-In-Chief at “Our team has done a terrific job in gathering all these statistics, and providing a comprehensive breakdown on the sports betting history in each state – all in one convenient location.”

Founded in July 2017 by Brett Smiley and Dan Zucker, is an elite sports betting industry news site that covers legislative and regulatory developments through original reporting, features and analysis.

Today, Sports Handle is owned and operated by Better Collective, a leading sports betting media group that develops educational platforms within the iGaming industry. Other leading websites owned and operated by Better Collective include: The Action Network, US Bets, and RotoGrinders.

Costacos Collection Announces Inaugural NFT Drop with Baseball Legend Willie Mays

Today, the Costacos Collection announced its inaugural drop will feature one of the most respected legends in professional sports, Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays. The 90th Birthday Celebration Drop will take place this Sunday, October 24, as an ode to Willie’s iconic number and two days before the start of the 117th World Series. For the fifth year, the MVP of the Fall Classic will be recognized as the “Willie Mays World Series Most Valuable Player.”

Willie will be donating all proceeds from the drop to his Say Hey Foundation’s effort to honor the people who gave him a start in life, by establishing a baseball academy for underprivileged youth where he grew up in Alabama, and to restore the historic baseball facilities at Rickwood Field where Willie started his career with the Negro League Birmingham Black Barons. Mays said, “I’ve never forgotten the people who supported me, taught me, and helped me find my way. I want every child to have the same chances that I had, and this gives me a way to do that starting in my original hometown. Rickwood was the first place I ever got to see professional ballplayers, and I want these kids to learn the game and be inspired the way I was.” Rickwood Field itself serves as a central theme of the drop’s art.

The first drop tells the story of Willie’s path to the majors, from Fairfield Industrial High in Birmingham, to the Negro American League, culminating with his move to the New York Giants with whom he would win the Rookie of the Year Award in 1951. The various edition pieces capture the key themes and statistics of those periods, and the 1/1 hero piece adds to the story with a number of never-before-seen personal documents and images from Willie’s journey – most notably, a copy of Willie’s high school diploma, in which he was assigned a career in “cleaning, dyeing, and pressing.” Willie recalls that all Black kids were assigned trade careers, while white kids “on the other side of the barbed-wire fence” were able to choose their paths and professions. Willie’s journey to becoming one of America’s most beloved sports figures and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom was only possible because of baseball and the people of Fairfield and beyond who helped him chart a different path. The NFT art piece includes a voiceover in which Willie’s powerful story is told by an iconic voice of sports, Bob Costas, who will join Mays in donating to the baseball academy and Rickwood Field restoration project.

Costacos explained, “In the mid-1960s, I learned to read a box score by stealing my dad’s paper to see what magic Willie Mays had done the night before. Yet with all the historic moments in his career, Willie, the humblest GOAT you’ll ever meet, asked us to focus not on his 24 All Star Games, 2 MVP awards, World Series victory in ‘54, his 12 Gold Gloves or 660 home runs – rather, he saw this as a unique opportunity to pay tribute to his roots and earliest days growing up in Fairfield, Alabama. We’re honored to partner with the great Willie Mays and to give fans an opportunity to connect with the legend through one-of-a-kind digital art in support of the Say Hey Foundation.”

Weekend Sports Appreciation Post

credit: Mike Morbeck

by Alex Perel, Special to The Daily Payoff

Nothing major to report in the sports and entertainment today, but we wanted to draw attention to the major upswing in games coming to the forefront. Going into the weekend, the first this year to feature Saturday NFL games, and the 2020-21 NBA season starting on Tuesday, we suddenly have a lot to look forward to in the sports world.

This weekend marks the final Thursday night game of the season as the NFL shifts into its weekend heavy schedule. The Los Angeles Chargers (+ 3 1/2) took down the Las Vegas Raiders in that matchup last night on Fox and NFL Network. The Thursday game will shift to a Friday matinee for Week 16. Both Week 15 and Week 16 will feature multiple Saturday games as well, with both having day and night matchups. Monday Night Football, however, remains on ESPN over the next two weeks. Finally, Week 17 hosts its full schedule on Sunday, as the league traditionally closes the season the same day for all teams.

Of course, Wild Card Weekend and the Divisional Round subsequently follow, both having Saturday and Sunday games. Point being, the NFL is mixing up its schedule to spread games across the next few weeks, so chances are when you flip on the TV any given weekend, you will have an NFL game to watch.

College Football sees a transition from conference championship games to bowl match ups next week, so NCAAF is there as well. The Power Five championships are as follows:

Pac-12: Oregon vs. 13-USC – 12/17 at 8PM EST

Big Ten: 14-Northwestern vs. 4-Ohio State – 12/19 at 12PM EST

Big 12: 10-Oklahoma vs. 6-Iowa State – 12/19 at 12PM EST

ACC 3-Clemson vs. 2-Notre Dame – 4:00PM EST

SEC 7-Florida vs. 1-Alabama – 8:00PM EST

All the great football leads into our biggest development: the NBA regular season’s return this coming Tuesday, December 22. Opening night features a Warriors vs. Nets early contest, followed by the Lakers and Clippers. With the league trying to cram a 72-game schedule into the coming months, we will see more back-to-back sets of games as well as “baseball series.”

In the latter format, teams will play each other multiple nights in a row. This style is uncommon in a normal NBA season, but the new schedule promises an abundance of NBA games throughout the week while you wait for football. Wednesdays and Fridays will be particularly packed with the requisite ESPN/ABC nationally televised packages.

And similar to football, the NBA is piggybacked by the college schedule, which is now entering its full swing of conference play. Check for those games to be typically packed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays on ESPN, FS1, and regional conference networks.

TL;DR: We shoot into the new year with a very healthy dose of live sporting events. Before you look up, we will have hockey and later baseball back, returning to a full slate of the four major American team sports. Get excited for the action packed weeks to come.

Going Beyond a Comeback with Alex Smith

Credit: Keith Allison

by Alex Perel, special to The Daily Payoff

As the second half of the NFL season progresses, many pundits will be releasing their predictions for the end-of-season awards. But one award race sticks out of particular interest this year: the Comeback Player of the Year Award.

Conventional wisdom may point to a candidate such as the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger or the Texans’ JJ Watt. Both are perennial stars returning to form after injuries last year. However, Alex Smith of the Washington Football Team has redefined what it is to be a “comeback player.”

A catastrophic injury in Week 10 of the 2018 season left Smith with spiral and compound fractures to both his fibula and tibia, ultimately resulting in infections and sepsis that became life threatening. Doctors sought amputation as an option to ensure the virus did not infect his whole body, before several surgeries and skin graft procedures could be used to save the leg. Smith is now not only starting at quarterback in the NFL, a ridiculous thought considering where he was a year ago, but has the Redskins in first place in the NFC East.

On Monday night, he faced Roethlisberger’s undefeated Steelers and dealt them their first loss of the season. The game was expected to be a Steelers route and appeared so with the Washington Football Team losing 14-3 at the half. Smith extended the game play by play, drive by drive, until eventually taking a three point lead as the two minute warning approached. Smith’s simple resilience is ultimate inspiration. Winning and losing do not matter any more in Smith’s story, not as much his pure fight to keep going. And yet, Smith unwilling to settle, is in fact winning. He has now won four in a row.

Smith’s journey over the last 24 months was captured in the E60 documentary Project 11 which aired on ESPN in May. The documentary opens its story February 11, 2019, less than three months after the injury. Smith had incredible persistence that we was going to pursue an immediate comeback attempt, allowing ESPN to document this effort as a show of his confidence in himself.

Project 11, like the CC Sabathia Documentary we highlighted last week, is an example of the transcendent power of athlete media. Much of athlete media is filled with podcasts and short form content concerning players’ opinions on everyday news in the sports world and beyond. This content is incredibly insightful, and a component of athlete media involves getting an insight into the minds of our heroes.

But heroes also go beyond to show us how to overcome battles in our daily lives. Both Sabathia, with his fight against alcoholism, and Smith overcoming devastating injuries are inspirations to people every day. Athlete media is meant to do exactly that: inspire people to be the best versions of themselves, to do what they think they cannot.

Watch Project 11 now on the ESPN app or ESPN+.

Sabathia Documentary To Debut December 22

credit: Wikimedia Commons/Arturo Pardavilla III

by Alex Perel, special to TheDailyPayoff

HBO and MLB announced this week a documentary about baseball legend CC Sabathia, entitled The Grapefruit Tree: The CC Sabathia Story, to premiere on December 22. The doc will cover Sabathia’s life growing up in Vallejo, California, to his final days with the New York Yankees. MLB is licensing exclusive footage taken from Sabathia’s last year with the Yankees in 2019, when a film crew followed him for special behind-the-scenes coverage.

The latter stages of Sabathia’s career were particularly challenging, as he battled personal issues and a well-documented bout with alcoholism. The All-Star starter overcame his troubles to return to the Yankees as an effective veteran presence on a younger team. In a statement to promote the announcement, Sabathia noted the emotional tone of the project: “I struggled for a long time with alcohol addiction and anxiety, which I pretty much hid from everyone I knew. It’s my hope we can inspire athletes and non-athletes alike to open up … You are not alone.”

Sabathia is one of the great starting pitchers of the 21st century, having amassed 251 wins and 3,093 strikeouts over his time with the Cleveland Indians, Milwaukee Brewers, and Yankees. He was the 2007 American League Cy Young and won the 2009 World Series with New York.

The HBO documentary is a continuation of Sabathia’s post-career efforts into media. He currently has a podcast on The Ringer with Ryan Ruocco entitled “R2C2.” They cover the Yankees, the greater baseball landscape, and all general sports topics of interest to Sabathia, such as his long-time fandom for the Oakland Raiders. Sabathia also frequently appears as a guest on ESPN’s “First Take.” He is an example of the modern athlete’s proactive approach toward player driven media.

NBA stars have typically been at the forefront of the movement, including Kyrie Irving, a key investor in Players Media Group, JJ Redick, who hosts the podcast “The Old Man and the Three,” and LeBron James, founder of media empire The Springhill Company. Sabathia is perhaps baseball’s largest figure in this arena. He is also a special advisor to Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman and is often seen at New York’s home games. His dual roles with the team and as a sportscaster have positioned him as a form of insider into the current state of the Yankees and Major League Baseball.

After first airing on HBO, the documentary will be made immediately available on HBO Max. HBO Max has been growing its exclusive content over the last several months. The service has debuted Max Originals such as The Flight Attendant and new video on-demand availability for Warner Brothers films such as Wonder Woman 1984. The Grapefruit Tree helps build out HBO Sports’ contributions to the service. HBO Max recently added unscripted show The Cost of Winning to go along with staple shows “Hard Knocks” and UNINTERRUPTED’s “The Shop.”

Sports is an ever growing niche genre for streaming services to differentiate themselves. The level of athletes and brands a service is able to bring in greatly defines what the service can provide consumers looking for sports content. For HBO Max, the Sabathia documentary is another significant entry into this foray.

NLL Adds Fort Worth As 14th Lax Franchise

by Jesse Liptzin, special to The Daily Payoff

For the first time in 2020, a Men’s Professional Sports League in North America has added a new team. The National Lacrosse League is going to be expanding into Fort Worth Texas with the announcement coming this past Wednesday by Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz and the DFW region-based ownership group in Greg Bibb and Bill Cameron, two people very experienced in owning a sports franchise.

“We welcome Fort Worth as our 14th team and are excited to be working with a first-class organization led by Bill Cameron, Greg Bibb, and the leadership at Dickies Arena, one of the premier state-of-the-art facilities in the United States,” Sakiewicz said in a media teleconference announcing the addition of the franchise.

Bibb and Cameron also are part owners in the highly successful WNBA team, the Dallas Wings. The two businessmen have yet to release a name or team colors, but say it will have something to do with Fort Worth and the area.

“We are committed to an identity that has a Forth Worth bent, but also something that is a little untraditional,” Bibb said.

This is the NLL’s second team in the Southern part of America joining the Georgia Swarm. The team won’t officially start play for another 18 months (2021-22 season), but this isn’t unusual as the NLL has a rule, new teams need at least 12 months before actual play can begin.

The new team will be playing at Dickies Arena which recently opened in 2019.

“Dickies Arena is excited to add the NLL to its event list,” said TDMC’s Matt Homan, President and General Manager of Dickies Arena. “We believe there is a solid ownership team along with the strength of the NLL. We are looking forward to working with Bill and Greg’s team locally to make sure that the Fort Worth community has a long term franchise.”

This was interesting because even though the NLL has never had a team in Texas many lacrosse teams in other leagues have failed in the area. However, Forth Worth is the 13th largest city in America and hosts plenty of sporting events between NASCAR, Gymnastics, and more.

“Fort Worth is a world-class sports destination and we are excited to welcome the National Lacrosse League franchise to our community and our spectacular new Dickies Arena,” said Jason Sands, Director, Fort Worth Sports Commission.

The NLL is the largest and longest-running professional lacrosse league so expanding the number of teams is nothing new to them. Just after the last team was added two conferences were formed. With the new addition, the 14 teams may transition into three conferences.

“In all likelihood Fort Worth will be the only expansion team headed into the following season, although you never know with us,” Sakiewicz said. “Sometimes we have been known to add two teams at a time.”

News on the 2020 NLL draft and other important information having to do with the 35th NLL season will be announced later this year.

Gambling On ‘The Last Dance’ (For Content Anyway)…

Online SportsBook BetOnline tried their hand at producing original content this past week, something that a gambling site doesn’t usually do when dollars are not on the line, when they released “The Final Dance” featuring former Chicago Bulls Horace Grant, Ron Harper, Bill Cartwright, and Craig Hodges.

But how to drive some buzz and cut through the clutter around so much content about the show? Stir the pot. Hosted by NBC Chicago and ESPN Radio personality Dave Kaplan, sparks flew as the talent delved into their take on “The Last Dance”. Gasoline got thrown on the fire as Grant ripped Jordan multiple times, calling him a “snitch” and liar”. This sound bite took over social media and the discussion shows the following day. Contrived? Preplanned? Who knows. One thing is for sure, it found it’s way to the mainstream.

The overall consensus from the guests was that Scottie Pippen was portrayed unfairly, and they all respected Jerry Krause. Bill Cartwright didn’t think the Bulls would have won titles if Doug Collins continued to be the coach. Who knows? No one. The point is that the SportsBook  needed an edge, and by asking some of the right quotations with the right talent, they found it. 

The entire and unedited 47 minute video roundtable interview, produced on the Socialive video platform, can be viewed here.

Raising Money In A Pandemic: QL Gaming Gets Some Bets

credit: Keith Allison

Not all ventures around sports are sitting still during the Pandemic. While we have seen the dropping numbers and issues with the big gambling businesses, we have seen Draft Kings launch their IPO, and today, New York based QL Gaming Group (QLGG), announced a $1.1 million raise and the acquisition of Finnish sports simulation company, Accuscore. The announcement gives the platform a solid $8.3 million from investors now, and shows that the ruse is probably being shaken off the mobile gaming business as sports slowly return to the pitch, the field and the court.

According to the news, the round was led by Tim and Todd McSweeney, with participation by Boston Seed Capital, Karlani Capital, Subversive Capital, Rob Seaver and Jere Doyle. Other investors have also included the late David Stern, former commissioner of the NBA, John Kosner, Stern’s former partner at Micromanagement Ventures and former William Hill chief Ralph Topping.

“Our thesis is betting properties with the best data and analytics will win, and our acquisition of Accuscore vastly increases our IP, grows our marketplace position and puts us in a very strong place as the sports world returns to active play in the near future,” said Justin Park, QL Gaming CEO in the release. “Our new and long term investors are very bullish on the casual gaming and sports betting market, and we are now poised to emerge stronger.”

The injection of capital will be used to further accelerate BetQL’s growth, which boasted a 200% increase in subscription sales from 2018 to 2019. In just 18 months of launch, BetQL has acquired over 300,000 free users, 10,000 paying customers and is already a seven figure business. Funds will also supercharge BetQL’s burgeoning affiliate marketing business which has partnered with ten operators in Indiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. QL Gaming initially launched in September 2015 as RotoQL to provide data and analytics to daily fantasy sports (DFS).

The news is good for both investors and companies that had started to build momentum in the gambling space before things came to a grinding halt around March 12. Many industry experts remain bullish on the gambling space, especially with companies who are not debt laden and can easily pivot to a new environment when sports come back to life in the coming weeks. There will also be a solid analysis of best practices, including a great mobile experience, and the QL Gaming plan is tied to all of those objectives.

“For companies looking to enter the sports betting space, there will be some very interesting opportunities in sectors that support the ecosystem, such as specialized sports content, analytics, and software,” added Chris Russo, CEO, Fifth Generation Sports an advisory firm focused on the intersection of sports, technology, and digital media.

Interesting yes, cost effective, disruptive and forward thinking as well.

Keep bringing on the investments.

BetMGM Launches Pro Football $2,000 Draft Contest

With the NFL Draft days away, marking just about the only live sports-related event going on these days, all eyes will be on the virtual selections by the 32 franchises beginning Thursday night.

BetMGM is making it a little more interesting, launching the free-to-play $2,000 Pro Football Draft Contest, a series of 20 questions predicting certain outcomes of the draft, and the player who guesses the most questions correctly will win a grand prize of $2,000 cash. In the event of a tie, the prize earnings will be split evenly.

Questions include:

· Which team will draft the first QB?
· How many teams will trade down (trade back) in the first round of the draft?
· Will the New England Patriots draft a quarterback in the first two rounds?
· Which running back will be drafted first?
· Which conference will Jake Fromm (UGA) get drafted to?
· How many players from the University of Alabama will get drafted?
· What position will Mr. Irrelevant be? (Last player to be drafted in the 2020 Draft)

Registration is open to residents of New Jersey, West Virginia and Indiana only. Sign up at

College Sports Challenges, Uncertainty Make NIL Debate Even More Front And Center

Wikimedia Commons/Phil Roeder

We continue in unchartered waters in sports as many enter week four of the pandemic, and the college landscape remains as fluid as any. There is no shortage of opinion and conjecture, from spring sports eligibility to moving football to the 2022 are all on the table and the angst and viability of student athletes remains in flux.

Against all of that backdrop is the ongoing and vital debate about Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) and how that will factor into the business of college athletics going forward. How have things changed or adapted, and what would the opportunities be for athletes today if NIL as in place? One of the key advocates in NIL remains Zach Segal, who founded last year as a platform to assist and recognize college athletes for their achievements on the field while tying them to brand opportunities, or in some cases, causes.  

We had some time to connect with Segal on how NIL is evolving, and how Student Player’s business platform has changed and adapted as well.

Does the opportunity for spring sports to add eligibility positively or negatively affect the NIL debate?

Any steps taken to promote fairness given these unprecedented times are good for the NIL debate. Afterall, allowing student athletes to benefit from their name, image, and likeness is not about giving student athletes an advantage relative to other students it is about treating them the equally! We hope that the longstanding inequity will be remedied soon!

How does a platform like student player impact a player prepping for the NFL Draft? once his eligibility end could he access funds if the system was up and running in say a year from now?

Student Player will offer sponsorship deals to student athletes when they are student athletes, but only after it is legal/permissible to do so. In our view, fans must have a voice and we give them the chance to be heard. Prospective athletes will want to know what kind of opportunities are available at each school, fans can make a difference by contributing! A player prepping for the NFL draft would still benefit from fan contributions while they are in college.

If NIL is in effect now how do you think athletes currently sidelined could use their rights for something like social good?

Yes, 100%. And we bet that many would! Today’s restrictions are essentially prohibiting that which is sad. Particularly so in a time when huge numbers of Americans (and others) are struggling to cope with Covid-19. This is just one reason why we hope school/legislatures/the NCAA won’t pause the momentum that NIL is having.

Without NIL in place this spring, have those athletes who missed March Madness suffered a loss of opportunity to capitalize on brand value? Can you think of a specific example?

Yes, March Madness shines a big spotlight on the athletes that play in it and the schools that they play for. There are missed opportunities across the board. Who would have hit a buzzer beater to help a double digit seed advance to the final four? We will never know, but that individual would have become a nationally recognized star. Who knows what would have happened next!

How do you see the debate moving in the fall when some normalcy returns; should we be looking for next steps?

We hope that it will pick up with as much momentum as it previously had. NIL is a bipartisan issue and a simple one.  In our view, the next step is for the NCAA to adopt California’s Fair Pay To Play Act. The NCAA and its member schools have long held that student athletes are “students first.” We agree! Given that, the solution is simple: treat student athletes like students. There are often mentions of “guardrails” and other safeguards, but we see all of those things as unnecessary. The goal should be to afford student athletes the same opportunities that every other student already has. Guardrails and safeguards should only be included if they are applied equally to all students (athlete or not).

BetMGM Is Hosting A Free To Play NBA 2K Players Tournament

BetMGM is hosting a free to play NBA 2K Players Tournament bracket on BetMGM NJ, available to all verified New Jersey users. Prizing is $20,000 for a perfect bracket, which will be split in cash amongst all winners. In addition, BetMGM will also be matching the grand prize with a $20K donation to New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund (NJPRF), which will raise funds and organize and coordinate resources to fight the medical, social and economic impact of COVID-19 on New Jersey’s most vulnerable.

The NBA 2K Players Tournament, an NBA 2K20 gameplay tournament, will pit 16 of the league’s best in a single-elimination, player-only tournament on Xbox One beginning Friday, April 3 on ESPN and ESPN2. NBA players include: Andre Drummond, Kevin Durant, Donovan Mitchell, Trae Young, Hassan Whiteside, Demarcus Cousins, Patrick Beverly, Zach LaVine, Derrick Jones Jr, Devin Booker, Rui Hachimura, Montrezl Harrell, Domantas Sabonis, DeAndre Ayton, Harrison Barnes and Michael Porter Jr. 

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Two Pittsburgh Guys, One Mission: Help Kids Stay Healthy

We all know how tough Pittsburgh can be; we have heard the talk about the Steel City; grit 101. However what’s even more impressive is when the talk gets backed up with the walk, and this week, two Pittsburghers who have a national footprint have come together in a business deal to change the lives of millions of kids.

The duo are former Pitt hoops captain turned entrepreneur Pat Cavanaugh and former Panther and now NFL star for the Los Angeles Rams Aaron Donald, who have teamed up to help Cavanaugh’s fast growing company, Ready® Nutrition, impact the lives of young people across the country.  

Donald, fresh off his game against the Steelers Sunday, announced that he has joined on as Cavanaugh’s first ever investor in the health and wellness business, especially tied to the promotion and development of their Protein Water line. While Donald has some big name endorsement deals, it is the first time he has ante’ed up as an investor in a company, one which he is taking so seriously he spent time during his bye week back in Pittsburgh with Cavanaugh and his team learning and developing the next level of brand strategy for the products.

 “I’ve looked at hundreds of brand partnerships over the past couple years and have found very few that match my standards and interests in making a difference in a global community,” Donald said. “The fact that Pat, also a Pitt guy, shares the same mindset about hard work and helping others, and runs the business with that mindset every day, made Ready the perfect fit for me.”

The two will focus on high school and youth athlete platforms such as Ready’s Mobile Training Table Program and Ready Talks with Aaron that give advice to athletes, and extensive donations of Ready product to select high school and youth programs nationwide. The goal is to impact one million athletes by 2025 with a healthier lifestyle on and off the field.

Ready Water is an all-natural, premium sports hydration drink featuring 15 grams of protein, NO Sugar and five natural electrolytes.  

 “Aaron is a caring person who likes to help others. We’re excited to partner with someone who is so engaged in helping young people and at the same time is known to be a relentless worker, on and off the field,” Cavanaugh added. “ We LOVE people who believe in our products and our philosophy that it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish. Aaron epitomizes this.” 

Tough folks, tough city, smart business. One partnership that goes beyond talk, with an impact beyond the legendary Three Rivers.

Commercial Casino Gaming Revenue Reaches $41.7 Billion in 2018, an All-Time High

Gaming revenue for the U.S. commercial casino industry reached an all-time high of $41.7 billion in 2018, up 3.5 percent from the previous year, according to data released today in the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) State of the States 2019: The AGA Survey of the Commercial Casino Industry. 

Key findings from the State of the States 2019 report include:

  • The commercial casino sector—with 465 casinos—logged its fourth consecutive year of gaming revenue growth and outpaced the national economic growth rate in 2018;
  • The industry generated $9.7 billion in gaming taxes for state and local governments, a number that does not account for the billions more in sales, income and other taxes that benefit communities; and
  • Half of the 24 states with commercial casinos reported record annual gaming revenue with nearly every state seeing gains in 2018, contributing to the strength of local economies across the country.

“Year after year, the commercial casino industry has reaffirmed its role as an economic powerhouse in the United States,” said Bill Miller, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association. “More people than ever are experiencing the economic and social benefits of gaming in their communities, due in part to the expansion of legal sports betting across the country.”

(PRNewsfoto/American Gaming Association)

The rapid expansion of legalized sports wagering following the Supreme Court decision to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in May 2018 played a role in the industry’s record year. Total industrywide revenue from sports betting grew to $430.2 million in 2018, up from $261.3 million in 2017. AGA anticipates this growth to continue as additional states legalize and regulate sports wagering.

“Growth in the commercial gaming sector enables the industry to continue to reinvest in communities, enhance partnerships with small businesses and nonprofits and provide career opportunities for nearly two-million American workers,” Miller added.

AGA’s annual State of the States report details the commercial gaming industry’s financial performance, including analyses of each of the 24 states with commercial gaming operations. The report, developed with Gambling Compliance, also provides a breakdown of the legality of types of gaming and number of casinos by state, summarizes major gaming policy discussions and previews opportunities and challenges for the industry.

Prop Bets Add To Kentucky Derby Fun

Jennifer Lawrence (credit: Gage Skidmore)

Beyond win-place-show, exactas, trifectas and other standard ways to bet on tomorrow’s Kentucky Derby, there are the prop bets, which various betting houses have set up to capture attention outside of the horse racing and sports realms and on into pop culture at large.

Some of the more fun ones that have posted include:

· Will Thanos (Josh Brolin) walk the red carpet at Churchill Downs?

· Do you think Louisville native Jennifer Lawrence will watch the race in person?

· President Trump is still favored (-300) to win the 2020 US Presidential election but how many tweets will President Donald Trump send on the first Saturday in May?

· And, with the 145th Kentucky Derby falling on May 4th, will Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) tweet, “May the Horse be with You”?

Josh Brolin (Flickr/Siebbi)

Over the past year, legalization of sports betting in certain portions of the United States has led to partnerships between US racing organizations and sports betting groups largely headquartered in Europe.

Almost a year ago, Paddy Power Betfair acquired Fan Duel while William Hill partnered to provide sports betting at Monmouth Park. Parx Racing has partnered with Kambi. One of the few US racing stalwarts that have not associated with a sports betting partner in Europe is BetAmerica, a racebook owned by Churchill Downs. Three months ago, BetAmerica joined forces with the Golden Nugget Casino in New Jersey in order to offer sports and casino wagering online.

Such partnerships make sense as competition will be fierce as part of what CNBC’s Alex Sherman calls a $150 Billion market.

It is the hope of racing organizations that new fans of the Sport of Kings will be created via the marketing funnels of the partnerships they have with sports betting groups. In turn, the desire is that these new fans will wager on horses. However, whether this business model will facilitate an actual improvement in the economic health of the racing industry in North America is yet to be seen.

While the handle for the Kentucky Derby race has been increasing in recent years with US Racing projecting a 10-12% growth over last year, the overall handle at tracks in North America has declined since 2003.

In 2003, the total handle was nearly $16 billion; in 2014 the handle was approximately $11 billion. However, from 2014 to date, there has been a trend of increasing handles. Perhaps the widespread legalization of sports betting will help continue this upward trend.

Speaking off the record, two gaming executives attending the recent Betting on Sports America Conference at the Meadowlands Racetrack indicated that there was, “still much work to do going forward before the horse racing industry would see benefits from offering sports wagering.”

While it will take time to determine the benefits of legalized sports betting for the racing industry’s bottom line, the casual fans of the Kentucky Derby will now have the opportunity to enjoy Kentucky Derby prop betting.

Century Casino Opens Edmonton, Alberta, Location

Century Casinos, Inc. announced the opening of its racing entertainment centre at Century Mile Racetrack and Casino in South Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

At 9:30 a.m. MDT the doors opened for the first time and the public was invited by Century’s staff to explore the brand new casino featuring 550 slot machines and electronic table games, 14 video lottery terminals, an innovative REPLAY gaming stadium with 28 unique play stations and an interactive digital wall display, an off-track betting room, a restaurant and a lounge area.

With the racing entertainment centre open, Century is now preparing for the first weekend of Thoroughbred racing on the one-mile racetrack, which is scheduled for April 28, 2019.

Century Mile Racetrack and Casino is the Company’s latest development, located on Edmonton International Airport land and close to the city of Leduc, south of Edmonton. The location is ideally positioned exiting off the Queen Elizabeth II Highway, which is the main corridor between Calgary and Edmonton and one of the most heavily used highways in Western Canada. It is close to the airport, a shopping mall, retail outlets, hotels, a golf course and an abundance of other businesses. The Company is investing approximately $46.6 million USD, based on the exchange rate in effect as of February 26, 2019, in the development.

Who To Follow in Sports Business On Twitter? There Is A List For That…

There is always a question as to who the must follows in and around sports business are on a platform like twitter. John Wall Street, a platform that covers the space, unveiled a pretty comprehensive list that includes people from gaming and gambling, media, news, and technology. Take a look and share away

Darren Rovell

New Research Reveals 90% of Casino Visitors Practice Responsible Gaming

With American acceptance of gaming at an all-time high, casino gamblers are actively practicing responsible gaming, according to new research released today by the American Gaming Association (AGA). Bettors report setting budgets, sticking to them and being aware of available responsible gaming resources at significantly high rates.

According to the research:

  • 9 in 10 casual bettors set a budget before they visit a casino;
  • 90 percent of those visitors report success in tracking their spending; and
  • 8 in 10 casual casino visitors and 9 in 10 avid casino visitors are aware of responsible gaming resources.

“Responsible gaming is our industry’s top priority,” said Bill Miller, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association. “This research indicates that our unwavering commitment to responsibility is resonating with our customers. But success in this key area will never mean our work is done, and we look forward to continuing to work with gaming regulators, our partners in the fight against problem gambling and our employees to ensure customers continue to engage in this form of mainstream entertainment responsibly.” 

This research comes on the heels of a recent AGA study that highlighted continued growth in acceptance of gaming. That research indicates that 88 percent of American adults view gambling as an acceptable form of entertainment. Americans also have a positive view of the industry’s role as a community partner, with 80 percent of people recognizing gaming’s role as a job creator, and 6 in 10 Americans believing casinos help their local economies.

“Gaming has made great strides over the past few years with the public increasingly recognizing our industry as the community partner and economic driver we know it to be,” continued Miller. “I look forward to working with our members and all interested stakeholders to build upon this great momentum in the years to come.”

The U.S. gaming industry commits more than $300 million to responsible gaming annually, supporting education, training and rehabilitation programs across the country.

Last year, AGA launched the Responsible Gambling Collaborative, convening a renowned group of thought leaders, stakeholders and academics to chart a new course on the complex issue of responsible gaming.

AGA members adhere to the association’s Responsible Gaming Code of Conduct which guides industry commitments to responsible gaming and is updated annually to reflect new developments and industry innovations. In 2018, AGA updated the Code to enhance provisions on sports betting and responsible advertising.

MethodologyToday’s data comes from two separate polls completed in late 2018. Data on Americans’ acceptance of gaming comes from our survey of American’s attitudes toward gaming and was conducted by the Mellman Group of 1,000 registered voters, both online and on the phone. Data on casino visitors’ responsible gaming practices comes from a survey of 2,014 past year casino gamblers. This survey was conducted online by BrandOutlook.

About AGA: The American Gaming Association is the premier national trade group representing the $261 billion U.S. casino industry, which supports 1.8 million jobs nationwide. AGA members include commercial and tribal casino operators, gaming suppliers and other entities affiliated with the gaming industry. It is the mission of the AGA to achieve sound policies and regulations consistent with casino gaming’s modern appeal and vast economic contributions.

3BALL USA to Launch Olympics-Style 3×3 Basketball Showcase at Great Mall In Silicon Valley®

by Tanner Simkins @TannerSimkins

The Outdoor Event Tips Off August 17th at Great Mall in Silicon Valley (Milpitas, CA);

8-Team Tournament to Feature “Super Teams” from Around the World Competing for $50,000

San Jose, Calif., July 26, 2018 – 3BALL USA, a well-established team organizer in Olympic rules 3×3 basketball, today announced the launch of its first-ever post-collegiate 3×3 tournament taking place August 17 to 19 at SIMON®’s Great Mall located in Milpitas, California (Silicon Valley). 3×3 is the uniquely fast-paced version of “3-on-3” basketball that the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) introduced in 2007 and that recently became a new Olympic sport to be featured at the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo. 3BALL USA, a Bay Area-based organization whose mission is to help grow the 3×3 basketball movement in the U.S. through experiential events in high-traffic locations, will tip off with an outdoor showcase in anticipation of a formal summer league that will begin play in 2019. The 3BALL management and advisory team includes sports industry executives George Raveling, Spencer Haywood, Andy Dolich, Stan Morrison, Bill Duffy, Matt Levine, Phil Evans, and Gary Hunter.

The public is welcome to the event, which will feature 8 elite men’s 3×3 teams competing in 21 games, a high-flying slam dunk contest, a one-on-one challenge featuring streetball icon The Professor, interactive selfie walls, music, food trucks, and a virtual reality activation from YBVR. Tickets go on sale today and can be purchased at and For each night of the tournament (minimum of 6 games per night), the ticket price is $25 for adults, and children 12 and under will get in free. Pool play begins on Friday at 7:00pm PST and on Saturday at 6:00pm PST, and the Playoffs begin on Sunday at 5:00pm PST. The entire event will be live streamed on Twitch, the leading digital platform in the U.S. for live video, and Sina Sports, the #1 digital sports platform in China. Additionally, NBC Sports Bay Area, NBC Sports Chicago, and NBC Sports Washington, will broadcast the 3BALL USA Championship Game, which will close the event on Sunday.

The FIBA-endorsed tournament will adhere to the official FIBA 3×3 game rules that will be used during the 2020 Olympics. The eight teams featured in the competition will be seeded based on pool play results and face off in a single elimination playoff round on Sunday. The 3BALL champions will win a $50,000 cash prize, and the top-finishing American team will earn automatic qualifications for the 2018 Sina Sports 3×3 Elite League in Beijing, China and the 2019 USA Basketball 3×3 National Championships at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. An elite field of teams from around the world will be announced over the next week to ten days.

3BALL USA, which has had at least one team in the USA Basketball 3×3 National Championships each of the past three years, was established in 2016 when founder and chief executive officer Michael Wranovics discovered FIBA 3×3 and recognized a growing opportunity for aspiring post-collegiate basketball players and a new pathway to the Olympics. Soon after, he recruited four free agent players (DeAndre Liggins, Alfonzo McKinnie, Myke Henry, and Stefhon Hannah) to form a 3×3 super team: 3BALL Premier. The four Chicagoans, three of whom have since played in the NBA, won their first 28 games in 3×3 competition, including a gold medal at the 2016 USA Basketball 3×3 National Championships. They went on to take the silver medal at the FIBA 3×3 World Cup in Guangzhou, China later that summer. This initial success helped Wranovics, a sports event and media entrepreneur, to attract renowned Bay Area businessman and former sports team owner Tad Taube to partner in developing the nation’s first professional 3×3 summer league.

“The global popularity of basketball has never been stronger, and FIBA’s innovative 3×3 game is helping to engage new players and younger fans around the world,” said Wranovics. “Capitalizing on the growing excitement around this faster-paced version of the sport, our goal with 3BALL USA is to introduce a professional model that offers a new generation of U.S. athletes the opportunity to compete for a gold medal in Tokyo and beyond.”

“We are excited about the first-ever 3BALL tournament at Great Mall,” said Lynne Rice, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Great Mall. “Simon is constantly innovating to elevate the consumer experience and introducing new offerings to our shoppers, so having 3BALL USA put on its event at our shopping center seems like a natural fit.”

3BALL USA will launch its league in summer 2019, consisting of weekly three-day tournaments in a variety of high-traffic locations. Additional details will be announced in the coming months.

EPIX® Sets Premiere Date for The Contender – hosted by Andre Ward

Mark Burnett’s 12-Episode Boxing Competition Series Reveals 16 Fighters Vying for the Champion Belt
by Tanner Simkins @TannerSimkins

Premium pay television network EPIX® has announced the 16 fighters who will be facing off with one another for the championship belt on the revival of boxing franchise series The Contender this fall. The highly anticipated 12-episode season, from MGM Television and Paramount Television, will premiere on EPIX on Aug. 24, 2018 at 10 PM ET/PT.

Hosted by undefeated boxing champion Andre “Son of God” Ward, the first-of-its-kind competitive documentary series for the network will feature 16 fighters pushing their limits in grueling elimination-style fights and testing their grit and determination to achieve their boxing dreams. The fighters will be overseen by legendary boxing coach Freddie Roach, and renowned Philadelphia trainer Naazim Richardson.

“The Contender takes unscripted TV to its grittiest. It has incredible professional fighters and real professional fights. The edge of your seat drama and true stories sets a tone that our audiences will be expecting and I love it,” said Mark Burnett, President of MGM Television.

“With this new iteration of The Contender, the focus is on the gritty, personal stories of the fighters battling for boxing glory,” said Michael Wright, President, EPIX. “It was important for us to find individuals who not only displayed the boxing chops and resilience in the ring, but who also showed a depth of heart and humor outside of it. Our 16 fighters are vivacious, tough, funny, sensitive, driven and inspiring, and we are excited for our fans to get to know their stories and root for them inside the ring and out.”

The 16 Contenders come from a wide variety of professional boxing backgrounds and stations in life, bringing their unique stories, personalities, strengths and motivations to the series.

Each fighter will be vying to be declared the new 160-pound middleweight champion of The Contender and take home the winner’s six-figure purse — a prize, which, for all the fighters, represents a better life for their families and loved ones who have been there with them through all the ups and downs of their journeys.

The 16 fighters on The Contender this season are:

Ievgen “The Ukranian Lion” Khytrov, Age: 29, Rank: 20, Hometown: Brooklyn, N.Y.- A Ukrainian immigrant, Olympian, Ievgen Khytrov recently relocated to America to pursue his dream of becoming a world champion and to create a better life for his family. A dedicated, quiet, religious man. He’s also the one to beat.

Eric “Babyface Assassin” Walker, Age: 34, Rank: 68, Hometown: Plaquemine, La. – Incarcerated at 15 years old and spent 14 years behind bars for robbery and attempted murder, Eric “Babyface Assassin” Walker learned to box while in prison. He is now fighting for a second chance at life, living proof that it’s never too late to live out your dreams.

John “Apollo Kid” Thompson, Age: 29, Rank: 70, Hometown: Newark, N.J. – After losing his mother to AIDS at six years old, this married performing artist, painter and fighter, John “Apollo Kid” Thompson is here to prove to the world that he can’t be boxed into a single category despite holding impressive titles including the 2015 WBA-NABA Super Welterweight, WBO Inter-Continental Super Welterweight and Boxcino Tournaments.

Malcolm “The Punisher” McAllister, Age: 27, Rank: 172, Hometown: Long Beach, Calif. – Always at the center of schoolyard fights growing up, Malcolm “The Punisher” McAllister now channels his energy into helping others rebuild outside of foreclosure and his young, growing family. In boxing has built an impressive KO record and the 2014 Golden Gloves title on his journey to take the title of The Contender.

Brandon “The Cannon” Adams, Age: 28, Rank: Inactive, Hometown: Los Angeles, Calif. – A bold fighter in the ring, Brandon “The Cannon” Adams knows firsthand what it means to push through adversity and step up to care for his family when there’s no one else around to. Coming from a poverty stricken neighborhood, this larger than life father of two marks his return to boxing after a three year hiatus, initiated by a loss to fellow competitor, John Thompson.

Quatavious “Cash” Cash, Age: 26, Rank: 161, Hometown: Las Vegas, Nev. – This Atlanta native is the current record-holder for fastest KO in Georgia, a four0time Golden Gloves state champ and Bronze medalist. Quatavious Cash is fighting for his late mother and for the chance to prove that a life of fighting street gangs can be channeled for good.

Shane “Sugarman” Mosley, Jr., Age: 27, Rank: 149, Hometown: Santa Monica, Calif. – The lone single contender, son of legendary Hall of Fame boxer “Sugar” Shane Mosley, Shane “Sugarman” Mosley Jr. is fighting to step out of his father’s shadow and carve out his own legacy.

Daniel “El Chapulin” Valdivia, Age: 25, Rank: 116, Hometown: Tulare, Calif. – A natural salesman and real estate agent by day, nicknamed “El Chapulin” (“Grasshopper”) for his boundless energy, Mexican immigrant Daniel Valdivia was born to step into the ring. With several titles including the NABF Super Welterweight Champion as an underdog, he’s chasing fame to prove giving up college for boxing was the right move.

Michael “The Silverback” Moore, Age: 31, Rank: 252, Hometown:Cleveland, Oh. – Reformed from a hard life on the streets, fraught with drugs, death and family suicide, Michael Moore is a natural hustler and leader. Married with two kids, Moore is constantly moving from state to state with his family in tow in pursuit of the boxing dream.

Gerald “G5” Sherrell, Age: 24, Rank: 216, Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pa. – A fan of the original Contender series growing up, Gerald “G5” Sherrell is an undefeated and explosive fighter with a level of unrivaled and self-proclaimed swagger. Hailing from the projects, this multiple time Golden Gloves, Silver Gloves and Junior Olympic competitor, this local zoo security guard by day, and young father by night, is looking to bring boxing glory back to his hometown of Pittsburgh.

Morgan “Big Chief” Fitch, Age: 34, Rank: 154, Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pa. – Injury-plagued throughout his career, the Native American hailing from Southern Louisiana is a married father of three. Knowing that he’s old for the sport, Morgan “Big Chief” Fitch has one last shot at making his boxing dreams come true.

Marcos “Mad Man” Hernandez, Age: 24, Rank: 104, Hometown: Fresno, Calif. – Having been bullied from a young age after an accident left him with burns on 30 percent of his body, Marcos “Mad Man” Hernandez is fighting for his young autistic son, in hopes that he won’t be bullied the same way he was. With Junior Olympics, 2012 Blue and Gold titles and “Mexican-go-forward” style fighting he may be overlooked and underestimated.

Tyrone “Young Gun” Brunson, Age: 33, Rank: 39, Hometown: Philadelphia, PA – At a time when he needed to sell drugs to support himself at the age of 13, a stepfather’s ultimatum: be grounded or go to the boxing gym was his saving grace. Now a humble father of two, and sitting with one of the best rankings in the competition, his 24 KO’s send a signal that he will not fight silently but his cocky attitude has beat him more than just once.

Lamar “Omega” Russ, Age: 31, Rank: 115, Hometown: Wilmington, N.C. – One of four kids raised by a single mom and the first person in his family to graduate college, Lamar “Omega” Russ takes pride in being the underdog, and beneath the loud exterior is a boxer that needs to prove he can put his money where his mouth is. HBO, ESPN and a first round KO on Showtime do all the talking.

John “The Rock” Jackson, Age: 29, Rank: 63, Hometown: St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands – A divorced father of two, this slick and agile boxer, Virgin Islander John “The Rock” Jackson started fighting at 12 years old, following in his world champion father Julian Jackson’s footsteps at the Pan American Games and 2008 Olympics. He comes from wealth but cares for the underprivileged and dreams of making his island proud bringing visibility to those struck by recent natural disasters.

Devaun “Unique” Lee, Age: 30, Rank: 82, Hometown: Jamaica Queens, N.Y.

When one of his friends was shot and killed at 16, Devaun “Unique” Lee knew he needed a way out from the mean streets of Queens. Boxing keeps him straight. So do long hours fueling airplanes and caring for his five year old daughter. The real love of his life. Fatherhood and the sport are the motivation to take his NY State Middleweight championship to the next level.

The original Contender series ran for four seasons (2005-2009) and launched multiple fighters into contention for world titles, including title winners Sergio Mora, Cornelius Bundrage, Sakio Bika, and Sam Soliman.

Eric Van Wagenen serves as executive producer and showrunner of the revived franchise alongside Mark Burnett. The format is owned by MGM Television and Paramount Television.

EPIX is available nationwide through cable, satellite, telco and streaming TV providers including Charter Spectrum, Cox, Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-verse, Dish Network, Sling, PlayStation Vue and, as of June 13, Comcast.

About MGM Television

MGM Television is a leading producer and global distributor of premium content for television and digital platforms, with distribution rights to original productions and a robust catalog of television episodes and feature film titles including such premiere entertainment franchises as James Bond, Rocky, Stargate and The Hobbit trilogy. Current scripted and unscripted projects include Fargo (FX); Vikings (HISTORY); The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu); Get Shorty (EPIX); The Voice (NBC); Survivor (CBS); Shark Tank (ABC); Teen Wolf (MTV); Steve Harvey’s FUNDERDOME (ABC); Beat Shazam (FOX); Signed (VH1); Lucha Underground (The El Rey Network); and through its distribution entity, Orion TV Productions, the syndicated daytime courtroom series Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court and Couples Court with The Cutlers. In addition, MGM owns Evolution Media, the innovative unscripted television producers of The Real Housewives of Orange County, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Vanderpump Rules, Vanderpump Rules: Jax and Brittany Take Kentucky, and Sweet Home Oklahoma (Bravo); Botched (E!); Bug Juice (Disney Channel) and Growing Up Supermodel (Lifetime). MGM’s television programming regularly airs in more than 100 countries worldwide. For more information, visit

About EPIX

EPIX, an MGM company, is a premium pay television network, delivering the latest movie releases and biggest classic film franchises, plus original programming including series, documentaries, and comedy specials – all available on TV, on demand, online and across devices. Launched in October 2009, EPIX became profitable in its first year of existence and is now available nationwide to 70 million homes through cable, telco, satellite and emerging digital distribution platforms. A pioneer in the development and proliferation of “TV Everywhere,” EPIX was the first premium network to provide multi-platform access to its content online at and to launch on Xbox, PlayStation®, Android phones and tablets, and Roku® players. EPIX is also available across hundreds of consumer devices including Apple TV, iPhone and iPad, Amazon Fire TV, TiVo, Chromecast, and Android TV, delivering more movies than any other network with thousands of titles available for streaming. For more information about EPIX, go to Follow EPIX on Twitter @EpixHd ( and on Facebook (, YouTube (, Instagram ( and Snapchat @EPIXTV.

About Paramount Television

Paramount Television is a leading studio, developing and financing a wide range of cutting-edge and entertaining television content across all media platforms for distribution worldwide. The studio’s robust slate includes Tom Clancy’s “Jack Ryan” (Amazon), “13 Reasons Why” (Netflix), “Maniac” (Netflix), “Shooter” (USA), “Berlin Station” (EPIX), “The Alienist” (TNT), “The Haunting of Hill House” (Netflix), “Catch-22” (Hulu), “First Wives Club” (Paramount Network), “Looking for Alaska” (Hulu), “Briarpatch” (USA), “Boomerang” (BET), “Shantaram” (Apple), “Dream Team” (BET), “The Contender” (EPIX) and “Snow Crash” (Amazon), among others. Paramount Television is part of Paramount Pictures Corporation (PPC), a global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment. PPC is a subsidiary of Viacom (NASDAQ: VIAB, VIA), a global content company with premier television, film and digital entertainment brands.

12-Episode Boxing Competition Series Will Premiere Later This Year on EPIX®

by: Tanner Simkins @TannerSimkins

Undefeated boxing champion Andre Ward will be host of new Mark Burnett production, “The Contender”; Freddie Roach and Naazim Richardson take sides as trainers. Premium pay television network EPIX®, an MGM company, has announced that undefeated boxing champion Andre “Son of God” Ward will host the new version of the seminal The Contender boxing franchise. Legendary boxing trainers Freddie Roach and Naazim Richardson join as trainers in the iconic series that has launched multiple boxers into contention for world titles.

The all-new 12-episode season of the boxing competition series, the first of its kind to air on EPIX is produced by Mark Burnett and his longtime executive producer Eric Van Wagenen. MGM Television has joined forces with Paramount Television to produce, and filming will begin this Spring 2018 in Los Angeles.

As host, Ward brings his undefeated record and undisputed boxing expertise to The Contender. Throughout his incredible 13-year undefeated career, he’s held multiple world titles in two weight classes including, unified WBA (Super), WBC, Ring magazine, and lineal super middleweight titles between 2009 and 2015 as well as the unified WBA (Undisputed), IBF, WBO, and Ring’s light heavyweight titles between 2016 and 2017. Ward also won the gold medal in the light heavyweight division in the 2004 Summer Olympics.

Said Ward, “I have faced the unique challenges of professional boxing firsthand and know the focus required to succeed at the highest level. Hosting a show that has enabled so many talented fighters reach their dreams is an honor and I look forward to giving the fans unique insight into the life of a fighter and leading the audience through the thrills of this competition.”

“It is so important for The Contender to have the best and most trusted boxing experts which is why we reached out to Andre, Freddy and Naazim,” said Burnett. “They are the very best and can help create an experience almost never seen before. Eric and I are really excited to exceed the fans’ expectations. We love The Contender and we love boxing.”

Esteemed coaches Roach and Richardson will each oversee a team of eight fighters, pushing their fighting skills, strength and endurance to the limit in preparation for elimination competitions. The coaches will also act as the fighters’ mentor, helping them to navigate their everyday life as the competitors live and train together and fight each other in the ring. Each fighter will be vying to become the ultimate Contender and take the winner’s six-figure purse.

Roach is widely regarded as one of the most successful boxing trainers of all time. His roster includes the eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao, five-time and four-division World Champion Miguel Cotto, former WBC Middleweight Champion Julio César Chávez, Jr., defensive master and three-time world champion James Toney, former UFC Middleweight and three-time Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre, as well as top prospects Jose Benavidez, Peter Quillin, and Vanes Martirosyan, among many others.

One of the most respected trainers from the boxing hotbed of Philadelphia, Naazim Richardson has helped shape the careers of some of the biggest names in the sport over the past 30 years. From Bernard Hopkins to “Sugar” Shane Mosley, as well as others like Travis Kauffman, and prospect Khalib ‘Bigfoot’ Whitmore, Richardson’s work and his spirit continue to be part of boxing lore. The father and trainer of boxing twin brothers Rock Allen and Tiger Allen Richardson, Naazim is also known for discovering plaster hidden in Antonio Margarito’s wraps before the January 24, 2009 fight between Margarito and Mosley.

Eric Van Wagenen serves as executive producer and showrunner alongside Burnett. The format is owned by MGM Television and Paramount Television.

EPIX is available nationwide through cable, satellite, telco and streaming TV providers including Charter Spectrum, Cox, Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-verse, Dish Network, Sling, PlayStation Vue and, later this year, Comcast.