It’s not quite the United States attacking Iran, but a sports handicapping website turf war has broken out between Pregame.com and Covers.com. As breathlessly reported by Gambling911 owner Chris Costigan, Covers launched a surprise attack this week, issuing ultimatums to four handicappers who’d been supplying picks to both Covers and Pregame. Covers’ message was simple: come the weekend, you work for Covers only; you so much as talk to Pregame and you’re dead to Covers.
An unidentified Pregame rep told Costigan: “Of the four guys, two are staying with us.” Costigan claims to have learned that the two cappers who managed to resist Covers’ hardball tactics are Stephen Nover and Scott Spreitzer. Marc Lawrence and Ben Burns, on the other hand, have apparently defected, possibly against their will, perhaps at gunpoint or after being slipped a mickey finn, it’s hard to say.
Not surprisingly, the Pregame rep didn’t take kindly to Covers’ ploy. “Kinda shady with March Madness starting next week they are pulling a portion of a capper’s income like this.” Shady? This is downright tame compared to Covers’ pivotal role in the great BetEd heist of May 2011. Countless former BetEd customers are still waiting to be reunited with their bankrolls, while the reported beneficial owners of BetEd hide in plain sight. Suppose we should be grateful this time they’re only poaching people instead of disappearing deposits.
Then again… The opportunistic timing of Covers’ capper caper – right before the revenue mother lode that is March Madness – reminds us that right before Covers’ formerly #1-recommended book BetEd shut its doors, it was hard-selling an overly generous bonus offer, which many have suggested was a thinly veiled attempt to sponge up as much new cash as possible before getting the fuck out of Dodge.
Good lord… Does that mean one (or more) of Covers’ current top-10 sportsbooks is in danger of going tits-up? Could Covers’ principals Paul Lavers and Joe MacDonald have a similarly undisclosed ownership interest in any of these books? It’s not entirely implausible. If, as alleged, they’d squired away all the BetEd money before it shut down last May, they could have used the pilfered profits to acquire an interest in another company. Hmm… Come to think of it, bwin.party stock hit at all-time low of 98p just three months after BetEd died. Investment opportunities like that don’t come around often. Bwin.party.covers? Rock.paper.scissors?
To be clear, we’re reasonably confident all of the books on Covers list will continue to operate long after March Madness has concluded. Just as we’re confident that Covers will continue to reveal themselves as shameless opportunists. As for the two cappers who have reportedly decided to cast their lot with Covers, before you sign anything over there, read this here.