CNBC Should be Ashamed of Money Talks

If you closely follow the world of sports betting, you've more than likely heard about a show on CNBC called Money Talks, which is supposedly a look at VIP Sports, a Las Vegas-based sports tout service run by a fellow who goes by the name of Steve Stevens. Unfortunately, this show is to the real world of sports betting what a Leslie Nielsen Naked Gun movie is to the real world of police work.

CNBC bills the show as a "one-hour docu-soap" which is just another name for a reality show, but the real emphasis should be on the soap aspect, as there is definitely more fiction than fact broadcast each week.

On one occasion a customer has lost a game and was told to double up on the next game, but in real life, the two games that were bet started less than an hour apart, making it impossible to have done so.

A lot has been written about Steve Stevens and his background and he doesn't shy from admitting his real name is Darin Notaro, who has been convicted of scamming elderly people and arrested several times for telemarketing fraud. Probably not the best person to give free publicity to, which is all CNBC is doing with this show.

Notaro is certainly a colorful individual on the show, although a bit of an enigma in real life. On one hand he tells one interviewer that his past criminal convictions and recent birth of a child have made him a better person, while on the other hand there are plenty of online examples of him using profanity-filled diatribes threatening anybody who writes anything negative about him or his company.

CNBC Response

CNBC was well aware of the problems with Stevens and VIP Sports, which nobody in the sports betting world had ever heard of until the show was announced, before the first episode ran.

“We are aware of Steve Stevens’ 1999 conviction, and while we are very clear in the press release that VIP Sports clients risk big dollars in the hopes that Stevens and his agents have the expertise to consistently deliver winners, viewers should tune in on September 10 at 10pm ET/PT to draw their own conclusions about VIP Sports. We are merely betting that viewers will be interested in the world of touts and handicappers and in no way endorse either Stevens’ picks or his business model.”

If CNBC were really interested in the world of sports handicappers, there are plenty of them out there who have actually been in business for a number of years, such as Right Angle Sports, where viewers could actually learn something about the handicapping process, instead of advice like to bet on the Dodgers because they won their last game or to bet the under because you're always ahead in the beginning.

When the show was first announced, Stevens boasted a winning percentage of over 70% and was quickly derided by many in the sports betting world. He has now toned that down to claims of 60 to 66%, which still pushes the envelope of credibility, especially when you consider that his plays have been posted in one of the popular betting forums for the past few weeks and have gone 3-11, including several large money line losers. (The customer who posts the plays claims a much worse record than that, but not all of them were posted, so I'll give Stevens the benefit of the doubt.)

The fact that CNBC did nothing to verify Stevens' claims is a huge black mark against the network and their nonchalance to numerous inconsistencies is downright baffling and shows how little respect they give their viewers.

Worth Watching?

From a sports betting standpoint, there is little to gain from watching, with the possible exception of what not to do, such as buying half-points off of dead numbers, doubling up after losses, etc. Many sports bettors do enjoy the show, but do so while knowing that it's complete fabrication and say anybody who falls for Stevens' sales pitches deserve what they get. Unfortunately, not everybody who watches the show has a sports betting background and being on a financial networks adds some credibility to VIP's claims, even while CNBC tries to distance itself from those claims.

From an entertainment standpoint, the show is definitely entertaining and Notaro does an excellent job playing the role of Stevens, while sidekick Chris Pirelli is a great character. As long as you know that's it nearly all "soap" and little "documentary," you'll likely enjoy the show.