If you’ve been anywhere near a television in the past eight years or so, you’re probably aware of the ubiquity of Shaquille O’Neal, product spokesman. Body powder, cut-rate car insurance, high-end cruises, home security systems, pain cream—if it can be sold, Shaq’s going to be pitching it.
In fact, last year, O’Neal told Bryant Gumbel on HBO’s Real Sports that he makes more money annually now than he did during his playing career, which ended in 2011.
But one entity with which O’Neal will no longer be connected: BetOnline.ag, an offshore bookmaker offering odds illegally to Americans.
NBA Confirms Sponsorship Pulled
An official in the NBA office confirmed to Bookies.com earlier today that BetOnline.ag will no longer be associated with O’Neal.
The issue came to light when O’Neal’s podcast, The Big Podcast with Shaq, hosted with John Kincade on PodcastOne.com, began including a new presenting sponsor, BetOnline.ag. The problem was, BetOnline is an illegal and unlicensed offshore sportsbook based in Antigua.
Once that was brought to the attention of the NBA, officials looked into the issue and consulted with all sides, resulting in the severing of the relationship between the podcast and offshore bookmaker.
At the time of writing, the PodcastOne website still featured an advertisement for BetOnline.ag under the 'KILLER DEALS' but we expect this to come down soon.
NBA Pushing Regulated Bookmakers
A retired player hosting a podcast sponsored by an illegal sportsbook wouldn’t necessarily be an issue for the NBA, except that O’Neal—in addition to representing Turner Sports, one of the NBA’s most significant broadcast partners—also owns a small share of the Sacramento Kings and is technically an NBA employee as the general manager of Sacramento’s esports team.
The NBA, of course, has attempted to put itself at the forefront of the national movement toward an increase in sports gambling. Where former commissioner David Stern was consistently and adamantly against any connections between his league and sports gambling, Silver has recognized the spread of gambling as an inevitability and embraced it.
Silver has hired a slew of new employees to keep the NBA ahead of the curve on sports betting and daily fantasy betting. He has spoken frequently about the potential of sports betting as a revenue stream, with the league’s data and results, as he sees it, the NBA’s “intellectual property.”
To that end, Silver has been steadfast in attempting to associate the league only with credible sportsbook operations, and just two weeks ago, it was reported that official league data would be provided only to, “Authorized Gaming Operators.”
The NBA has current data agreements with MGM, The Stars Group and FanDuel, though more are expected. But the league wants to keep its distance from underregulated offshore sportsbooks, like BetOnline.ag, and its willingness to intervene in removing the operation’s sponsorship of O’Neal’s podcast is another sign of how seriously Silver and the NBA take that.