NESN’s Sam Panayotovich Says MA Sports Betting, Fans A Perfect Match

Written By Matt Schoch on March 10, 2023
Sam Panayotovich Sports Betting Massachusetts NESN

Since moving to Massachusetts, Sam Panayotovich has made a couple of 90-minute drives each way from to Mohgean Sun casino in Connecticut to bet on sports.

And now, with his new home joining the ranks of legal online sports betting states, NESN’s “Ultimate Betting Show” host can step the mileage down.

“That’s a three-hour commute to make a bet that probably won’t win, which I guess is my life,” Panayotovich told PlayMA on Friday. “The things we had to do to get the right number.

“But now I don’t have to get in my car. I can bet on my couch. It’s a day.”

He knows he’s not the only one.

Panayotovich has made a career in sports betting media

Along with the Jan. 31 retail launch of Massachusetts sports betting, a day like Friday has long been on Panayotovich’s radar.

A Chicago native who handicapped games for his dad’s friends as a teenager, Panayotovich is nearly a lifer in the space. The nationwide legalization wave created a niche for his specialty, which took him from home to VSiN in Las Vegas and then to the Bay State in 2020.

NESN, the Boston sports network carrying Red Sox and Bruins games, launched the “Ultimate Betting Show” in May 2022, with Travis Thomas (pictured, left) and Claudia Bellofatto (middle) joining Panayotovich. The crew also does a sponsored FanDuel betting spot during Bruins and upcoming Red Sox games during the network pre-game shows.

“The big play is the books are starting to creep into Massachusetts because it is legal,” Panayotovich said. “Now that mobile is here, I’d imagine there’s going to be more and more stuff getting into the state.”

Panayotovich: Make Massachusetts sportsbooks sweat with bonus bets

The “Ultimate Betting Show” provides information for some of the nation’s biggest sports fans for their new frontier for fandom.

By mid-day Friday, Panayotovich had signed up for four of the six live online sportsbooks in MA. He was waiting for details on MA sign-up promotional offers from the other two. Panayotovich noted the solid BetMGM Sportsbook MA $200 pre-launch bonus bets offer, also noting how DraftKings and FanDuel weren’t offering as much pre-launch because of their market dominance.

“It’s like Coke and Pepsi,” said Panayotovich, who is on Twitter at handle @spshoot. “That’s them.”

(By the way, Panayotovich recommends using the four $50 BetMGM bonus bets on longer shots to maximize return. “If they’re going to give you money, make them sweat,” he said.)

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Chicago native has seen Boston sports fever up close

Panayotovich said Massachusetts residents might be surprised just how many of their friends will dabble in sports betting. There are plenty of sports fans for books to pick from. According to a recent PlayMA survey, 51% of Massachusetts sports fans were already betting before Friday.

The famous Boston sports fandom is hard to miss, Panayotovich said.

He saw his Chicago Bears play the New England Patriots this past season at Gillette Stadium. After Pats QB Mac Jones threw an interception, it didn’t take long for New England fans to chant for backup Bailey Zappe.

“Not only are they passionate about their teams, they are opinionated on their teams,” Panayotovich said. “They will be on and against their teams. If they don’t like their matchup: ‘Ah, this team sucks.’

“It is the perfect fit because these fans are insane. And I say that with the utmost respect. Their opinion leads to the bet. And there’s no shortage of opinion in this state.”

Photo by NESN photo courtesy Sam Panayotovich
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Matt Schoch

Matt Schoch is outreach content manager for PlayMA. A Michigan native, Schoch has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Missouri and the Virgin Islands. Schoch has covered sailing on the Great Lakes, cricket in the Caribbean, high school and pro playoffs, and the Olympics in Rio. He's also the former host of the Locked On Pistons Podcast and producer of a documentary on Emoni Bates. A former blackjack dealer, Schoch has studied the industry from all sides.

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