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Online Sports Betting in the Time of COVID — A Conversation with Brian Sausa of BonusSeeker.com

Brian Sausa is responsible for overseeing the output of sports betting content on Bonus Seeker, a subsidiary of Catena Media.

It’s safe to say that everyone’s life has been turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic, in one way or another. As fans, some of us look back at March and April and wonder how we filled our day with the suspension of professional sports. 

But when you work in the sports betting industry, the stoppage was more than just a minor inconvenience; livelihoods were actually threatened. Creativity and quick thinking by those in the industry like Brian Sausa of BonusSeeker.com continued to keep the market afloat and provide prospective bettors with an inflow of new information when there seemed to be very little of it to go around. 

Staying Relevant During the Sports Hiatus

“In a world without sports, what do people want or need to know?” Sausa asked himself this question when the sports world came to a screeching halt in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Sausa is responsible for overseeing the output of sports betting content on Bonus Seeker, a subsidiary of Catena Media. He provides the reader with information from online sports books and casinos in order to enable a potential bettor to make educated decisions when placing bets with sports betting apps, such as Draft Kings or Fan Duel. 

The website also helps people find welcome bonuses when they sign up for sports books. 

“During the pandemic, when there weren’t any sports, we were creating content we call ‘evergreen,’ or not based on a specific game or anything timely, “ Sausa explained. “For example, how-to articles, how to bet on the NFL, how to bet on this sport or that sport.” He added that, in the absence of mainstream sports, people began to bet on sports they barely knew existed, such as table tennis. 

March 12 — A Day that Will Live in Infamy

Sausa recalled March 12, the day the NBA suspended play in the wake of Rudy Gobert’s public announcement that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.  “I had the Big East tournament on behind me, I’m watching the first round of golf [the PGA tour]. For any bettor, the first thing they thought was ‘All my bets are cancelled.’ It was a blow, and nobody knew what to think. It was a very singular event; there’s nothing like it. Anybody who deals with the business or covers sports is shrugging their shoulders and has the same questions.” 

It wasn’t long before Sausa realized he needed to think on his feet in order to keep the content flowing on Bonus Seeker. An unintended side effect of the pandemic has been politics, but for Sausa it provided fodder for stories in a different and positive way. 

Politics and Online Gambling

“I reached out to some prominent politicians in the sports betting space and we did feature articles based on the legislative efforts that they were giving in their state. We spoke to senators in New York and New Jersey and tried to find ways to create compelling content even if we weren’t offering people anything to bet on or a site to sign up for.” 

Online sports gambling is legal in New Jersey, but not in New York. With the state currently being in tremendous debt in the midst of the pandemic, Sausa believes a potential solution could be to legalize it in New York. “ I had seen [Senator] Joseph Addabbo speak at a conference last year about how he wanted New York to legalize sports gambling, and he was going after it very hard. I was thinking that he must be shouting it from the mountaintops now after coronavirus.” 

Sausa spoke to Addabbo, who was very vocal about how New York loses tons of potential revenue to New Jersey, noting that at least 20 percent of the taxes brought in by sports betting in the state come from New York residents. Addabbo is the author of Senate Bill S17D, which pushes for legalized, regulated online sports betting. 

New Jersey — The “Blueprint” for Online Betting

Sausa also spoke to Ray Lesniak, the former senator of New Jersey who was integral in legalizing online gambling in the state, as well as getting the ball rolling for legalizing it across the country. “Jersey became the blueprint for every state that wanted to legalize sports gambling. No other state had full online mobile sports betting where you could do it from your phone, your house, or anywhere. They were the first state to have full-scale mobile betting and to regulate it and put taxes on it and make money off of it.” 

But there is one restriction in New Jersey that Sausa believes could use some tweaking. “In New Jersey, you can’t bet on [college] teams from New Jersey. I interviewed the former senator to discuss the law–why can’t New Jersey fans bet on New Jersey teams?” They discussed how this restriction left potential money on the table for Jersey because fans or alumni of universities such as Rutgers or Seton Hall can’t bet on their own team if they reside in the state. 

It also precludes New Jersey from hosting tournament games because it includes any game that is even played in Jersey, even if they are not necessarily Jersey teams. Lesniak seemed to agree that this could be a potential future adjustment, stating that he did not believe that gambling is a threat to the integrity of college sports. 

Advice for Newcomers

Once sports started to return, ramping up to somewhat normal content was hectic but exciting for the site. Golf and NASCAR were back first, followed by MLB, NBA, and NHL all within about a week of each other. 

Sausa believes you don’t have to be a seasoned veteran to get into sports betting. His best advice for a betting newbie would be to educate yourself. “The very first thing to do is understand the basics of betting and what each type of bet is. Read a site such as ours that provides instructional info on how each type of bet works, what each bet is, how payouts work, how odds work.” 

There’s no time like the present to begin learning! Sausa posts weekly NFL predictions throughout the season, beginning with this week’s AFC South picks.

 

Double G Sports will continue to provide news and tips from the sports betting industry throughout the NFL season.

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Elizabeth DiPietro

Elizabeth DiPietro

Liz DiPietro has been a staff writer for In The Zone since 2011. She is a New York City public school teacher working at a middle school in Brooklyn, NY. Liz has a Master's of Creative Writing from Queens College and a Master's of Special Education from the College of Staten Island. She is a diehard Yankees, Knicks, and Jets fan and exercise enthusiast. Liz lives in Staten Island, NY with her husband Dave and 2-year-old son Christopher.
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