Cleveland Cavaliers Coach Issues Sports Betting Warning

  • The Cavaliers’ J.B. Bickerstaff head coach wants more awareness of the dark sides of gambling
  • The team’s in-arena retail sportsbook opened for the first time on Monday
  • Bickerstaff is not against sports betting if properly managed and education is provided
  • Sportsbooks were only able to launch for the first time in Ohio on January 1
JB Bickerstaff
Cleveland Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has warned about the potential pitfalls of legal sports betting for players and staff. [Image: Flickr.com / Erik Drost]

Hard to miss

Cleveland Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff issued a warning about sports betting on the same day that the team’s new retail sportsbook opened for the first time. The Caesars Sportsbook at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse Arena opened for business on Monday as the Cavaliers played the Chicago Bulls.

ads promoting sports betting are everywhere these days

Bickerstaff said that ads promoting sports betting are everywhere these days and that he tries to avoid them as much as possible. He believes that going forward there will need to be more time dedicated to educating the staff and players at the Cavaliers about sports betting “because we know the downside or the dark side of it.”

Some potential pitfalls

Bickerstaff believes that sports betting can appear to be innocent but can ultimately lead some people down a slippery slope. He also noted how easy it can be to potentially fall foul of the NBA’s gambling-related rules.

believes it needs proper management and education

He outlined an example in which he might to go on a casual walk and a fan of the team asks if a certain player is going to make an upcoming game or if he is still injured. If Bickerstaff shares the injury details and the recipient of the info places a bet on the back of it, this could have bad consequences. Bickerstaff did note that he is not against the idea of legal sports betting, but he believes it needs proper management and education.

The chief lawyer of the Cavaliers Jason Hillman spoke to the team before the start of the season about the consequences and downfalls associated with gambling. Players and their close family members are not allowed to place bets.

A big move for the state

The retail sportsbook at the Cavaliers’ home arena was crowded approximately 90 minutes before the beginning of the game. People were sitting at tables, sipping on drinks, eating food, and looking at the many televisions.

A smaller number of people were using the betting kiosks and teller windows to place wagers. The sportsbook itself is a 10,000-square-foot, two-story facility. The plan is for the facility to be 362 days each year.

Bickerstaff, who has been the Cavaliers’ head coach since 2020, had a prime seat to watch Donovan Mitchell pour in 71 points in a 145-134 overtime victory against the Chicago Bulls Monday night. Mitchell is just the 7th player in NBA history to score 70 points in a game and the first since Kobe Bryant drained 81 in 2006.

Sportsbooks were only legally able to launch for the first time in Ohio on January 1. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed legislation into law in December 2021, paving the way for legal sports betting in the state.