Roulette

A New Low for CNBC

Roulette

With nothing better to do the other night, I decided to try out CNBC’s new series, Money Talks, a reality show that follows the antics of one Steve Stevens and his company VIP Sports of Las Vegas which describes itself as a consulting firm to sports bettors. A self-proclaimed sports handicapper, Mr. Stevens is quick to clarify that he does not take bets but rather tells his clients how they should bet in exchange for 40 to 50% of their winnings. That’s right—40 to 50%! Stevens justifies this ridiculous commission with a claim of 70% accuracy in his picks. Of course if he did have a 70% hit rate, the logical thing for him to do would be to bet his own money, which immediately tells us that this claim is incredible, aside from the fact that the odds against such a hit rate are about a trillion to one. In this Business Insider article, we learn that one of the best sports bettors in the world only wins 57% of his bets.

We also learn many other things like Mr. Stevens real name, Darin Notaro, and his past convictions for telemarketing fraud. At age 25, Notaro was sentenced to a year for running a telemarketing scam that bilked the elderly out of $234,000. When we watch him and his employees operate, we quickly come to the realization that he is playing the same game but with higher stakes. For all intents and purposes, VIP Sports is nothing more than a boiler room operation where the marks are called “news”—new suckers. Obviously, “news” are constantly needed to replace the “olds” who have been bled dry.

Another important point in the CNBC article is that nobody of any importance in the sports betting world has heard of Stevens or VIP Sports. The question I was repeatedly asking myself was, “Why, CNBC? Why?” At least with American Greed, we know exactly how we should view the scammers, scoundrels, and con artists. With Money Talks, however, the hustlers are portrayed as decent guys just trying to make a living. Their only fault is that they are a little rough around the edges, and maybe they get a little too caught up in the party-all-night culture of Las Vegas. But hey, who are we to judge?

If anybody at CNBC is listening, please come to your senses and cancel that show. We know that you are having a tough time competing with The History Channel’s Pawn Stars, but that does not mean you should play the game of how low can you go? While there are many things that the investing public needs, a reality show about fraudsters who prey on naïve gamblers is not one of them.