CBB '24 - Week 3 Card & Leaderboard: A Giant Colostomy Bag Of Deceit

What an NFL team employee defrauding his team can teach us about sports betting product innovation and customer service, how we're no longer giving out free winnings on BYU and UCONN, and your Week 3 Card and Leaderboard

CBB '24 - Week 3 Card & Leaderboard: A Giant Colostomy Bag Of Deceit
Where else will you find a headline that's both a pun and a reassertion of Robn's core values

A Giant Colostomy Bag Of Deceit

Of the more than 70 of you who are playing so far, only 5 of you have taken advantage of your free Referral Bonus Winnings! It's easy. Just refer your friends to the 2024 Robn College Basketball Contest. When your friend/s submits their first picks card, they'll need to list your name on the card as the referrer. If they do that, you get 100 free Bonus Winnings! They'll be deposited in your total after Week 5 of the contest. (Offer valid until Jan. 31st at 11:59pm ET. Limit of five (5) new customer referrals per contestant. Those referred must have never played in an Onions/Robn contest before).
  1. Let's Knecht Sometime: The $22 Million Sports Betting Problem That Isn't Going To Be Solved By Words
  2. Insights from EvanMiya.com on Creighton-Seton Hall, And Insights From Tom Izzo on EvanMiya.com
  3. House Of Goss Haunts Us Still; Welch, Bertolina Doing It The Hard Way
  4. Week 3 Card & Leaderboard, Including Rare Sunday Games

1 - A Better Fantasy

In 1894, after the premiere of one of his early plays, Arms And The Man, George Bernard Shaw came on stage to address the audience. After the applause died down, he was heckled with a solitary "boo." He didn't miss a beat.

"I couldn't agree more, my dear fellow, but who are we two against all these others?"

This reminds me in some ways of how the gaming industry responds implicitly to the festering bucket of largely un-winnable conversations in the public forum around the (un)fair treatment of its customers.

A few days after the 2023 Robn College Football contest ended, a massive story at the intersection of pro sports, gambling, addiction and the U.S. penal system got rushed past everyone. (Had the story dropped when these emails were still running in December, it would have been headline 1A the next week, but we've saved this little screed for now).

A giant colostomy bag of deceit named Amit Patel pled guilty to defrauding his employer of $22 million over a three-year period. He bought a condo, a car, some luxury items with the money. But the vast majority of it he spent playing daily fantasy sports, and losing.

It's even worse, though, because his employer was the NFL team the Jacksonville Jaguars.

If someone wanted to assemble a cohesive bouquet of sports industry failure, and then put it out as the table centerpiece in the run up to the NFL playoffs, they could do no better than this.

First, there's something here for everyone: There’s the source of funds check element. There’s the prohibited persons element. There’s the betting integrity element. There's the responsible gambling element. Every member of Oprah's audience gets a car, here.

Second, this occurred over a very long span of time. How? How did the Jaguars not detect it (we get it, he cooked the books, but come on)? How did gaming operators (it appears it occurred mostly on FanDuel's fantasy sports platform, though reports vary) not detect and address it? How did anyone in Shah's life not notice the sudden and abrupt lifestyle change and at least ask a question or two?

Third, like so many betting news items that look and smell bad, this story quickly became one about gambling addiction. This was orchestrated largely by Patel's lawyers, who claimed his addiction was to blame for his actions. The industry tut-tutted a bit, too.

In fact, the insanely addictive gambling behavior Patel displayed during his three-year joy ride was a byproduct of its antecedents: a premeditated willingness to enrich himself by stealing from his employer, and hiding it. The addiction was, as far as we know publicly, a plot development once the story got going.

It was only over time that, as Bleacher Report reported, Patel became known in the DFS community as a “legendarily bad” player, and as the biggest all-time loser in fantasy sports history on FanDuel (a company that had existed for nearly 10 years before Patel starting playing).

Report: Ex-Jags Employee Amit Patel Was ‘Legendarily Bad’ DFS Player amid Theft Case
The former Jacksonville Jaguars employee who is accused of stealing millions from the franchise reportedly had an avid sports betting hobby. Unfortunately, he…

No doubt, there is a huge responsible gambling element to this story. But if you take a broader look at what's going on there's a more fundamental issue at play.

Our thesis at Robn is that this reflects a fundamental issue from the betting operator's side of either not knowing, or choosing not to know, their customer. Not their name, address, email and date of birth. Not how much they’ve won or lost, their betting tendencies, or who their favorite team is. But on a personal level.

If you want to identify and correct problem gambling behavior, or for that matter, do anything else that satisfies customer demand or eases customer heartburn, you have to be able to communicate with customers, because unless you communicate with them, you won't ever get to know them and know how the hell you've won them over or pissed them off.

You have to at least attempt an actual, 20th century, we're-chewing-the-fat-down-at-the-hardware-store dialogue with them. An app is about the worst way possible to do this, but it's what we're working with. If you don't attempt it, you'll never actually know your customers, and your customers will never actually know you. You'll just be the faceless tech stack that asks for more deposits, and they'll just be the programmed subsidizer of your business on the other side. In this environment, it's easy to not catch things because it's easy to claim ignorance.

Correcting this starts with a willingness to have human-to-human customer touchpoints, instead of having customers spend their time not resolving issues with an outsourced chatbot and/or or someone in India.

Long term, it necessitates the fostering and development of more products where monetization is fueled outside of the ruthless hamster wheel of getting customers to deposit, then to churn, then to deposit again, etc.

Bernard Shaw’s response is an analogue – in all the wrong ways, and none of the witty ones – for how the gaming industry responds implicitly to the conveyor belt of challenging conversations in the public forum around the fair treatment of its customers (e.g. palps, customer limiting, fraud, and of course, RG detection and proactive help).

Except, when Shaw said it, he won over a sizable portion of the audience and proved he could be self-effacing in the face of minority criticism, even when he was doing so many other things well.

When betting industry incumbents say it, if they make an utterance at all, it usually falls with the dull thud of a bromide at the feet of an issue that has nothing to do with how you talk about it.

2 - Come On In, Take A Set(on)

Mountain West Edges Out BYU In The Battle For Week 2.5 Attention

Some of our EXTRA markets recently have had some unfortunate luck. Josh Hubbard to make 3 three-pointers lost because he only made one in spite of taking nine of them. Zyon Pullin to score at least 17 points lost when he only shot 2 of 11 from the floor and nearly got there on free-throws alone. BYU's Trevin Knell to make three threes failed because he was a late scratch from the game (apologies, out of our control, caveat emptor).

But our man Dylan Addae-Wusu did not disappoint. We hyped up Wusu's 15 points, assists and rebounds combo EXTRA market (a winner - no big deal, shout out Tim Merck for being the only contestant to capitalize on it) based on the storyline that he was facing his former team and the coach who publicly said Wusu and many others weren't a good fit for him.

Well, Wusu actually didn't face that coach because that coach was ill with Covid, which apparently we're still doing in 2024. Robn felt quite bad for referencing Rick Pitino wanting to kill himself prior to knowing he had the 'vid, which as you remember in 2020 and 2021 at least had quite the run of being lethal for old people, a demographic for which Pitino qualifies.

This weekend, Wusu and the Pirates are back on the card. Sure, we could just keep giving you money for auto-firing on BYU and UCONN, but we're pivoting to other Big 12 games and to Blue Jays-Pirates in the Big East.

We discussed last week how Wusu was part of an insanely balanced Seton Hall starting lineup. One that can do things like this:

It's also one of the most consistently ran out lineups in the country. Friend of the contest, and all around hoops savant Evan Miyakawa evaluates lineup-specific statistics on his site, evanmiya.com.

There are 394 five-person lineups in college basketball this year that have played over 100 possessions together.

Seton Hall's (4th) and Creighton's (15th) starting lineups are each in the top 15 individual units in terms of possessions' played.

Yikes, Jackson State

So, we've got two personnel cohorts on Saturday that know each other and play within themselves over long stretches of gameplay.

But note that, of any of those top 15 most-common lineups, Creighton has by far the best efficiency margin (it's the eighth-most efficient lineup in the country by Adjusted Efficiency Margin). If Creighton's starters can stay on the floor longer, the Blue Jays could potentially have the edge on a Seton Hall lineup that has overachieved all year.

So what do you think? Does Creighton bounce back on the road against the Big East's best team, or does the chemistry continue for Seton Hall?

  • Meanwhile, we're off to a track meet in Iowa City where totals between a streaking Purdue team and the Hawkeyes could hit 170 (!).
  • The exact opposite conditions are in effect at War Memorial Gym in San Francisco, where USF and Saint Mary's might be lucky to eclipse 125.
  • Can a Texas team that everyone is really (horns)down on possibly get a home win against Baylor?
  • And Michigan State (a pesky Thursday-Sunday team, bad for Robn's card schedule) makes their first appearance of the year in contest on the road Sunday morning against Maryland.

Tom Izzo had some thoughts for Evan Miyakawa, by the way, on Evan's work.


Thanks, coach.

3 - Greetings and Salutations

We haven't shouted out very many contestants so far as I think we're all getting our post-holiday skis back under ourselves a bit.

The response from many of you has been great. Thank you. There's been remarkable consistency from you, including playing both a mid-week card and a weekend card, leading to a surge in winnings volume.

Two contestants well-known to the Robn universe who did not contribute to this surge are Jake "Would Never" Welch and Austin "Born Hard" Bertolina, who you might remember from briefly leading our college football contest.

Both have ripped 1ks across each of the four cards so far and hit none of them, which is almost hard to do. Let's get after it in Week 3, boys.

Meanwhile, Tyson "Wrap It In" Goss who you might remember as being the male significant-other of a female contest champion, continues his house's assault on the leaderboard. He's our wire-to-wire leader at this point.

Shout out to new contestants Kevin Tone, Kevin Chaney, and Collin Sherwin.

No shout out to someone passing themselves off as a cartoon character.

4 - Week 3 Card

Below this annoyingly strategically placed advertisement is this week's card.

If you're interested in our Sunday games, those markets will be listed on Friday morning.

Week 3 Card - Jan. 20th
Each week, contestants are granted 1,000 in Available Free Play Points (AFPP). Contestants must allocate all 1,000 points across one or more of the following markets The submission deadline is 9am PT / Noon ET on Saturday Contestants’ goal is to generate “winnings” by making successful selections The amount of winnings generated by successful selections are determined by the amount of AFPP placed on the selection, multiplied by the multiplier at the end of each pick (e.g. if Arizona wins, an allocation of 100 points on “Arizona to win - 1.25x” would net 125 winnings, or 100 x 1.25) Official contest rules can be found here In order to enter, make sure you subscribe here