Sports Bettor Goes After Deadspin with $10 Million Defamation Suit
Posted on: June 27, 2017, 06:00h.
Last updated on: October 9, 2020, 09:29h.
Vegas-based professional sports-better and handicapper RJ Bell, who runs the tipster website Pregame.com, has launched a $10 million defamation case against sports site Deadspin.
Proving his knack for backing a winner, Bell has hired lawyer Charles Harder, who represented Hulk Hogan in his $140 million invasion of privacy suit against Gawker, which published a sex-tape featuring the former wrestler.
Gawker Media was declared bankrupt after that settlement and its assets were acquired by Univision, which reformed the company into Gizmodo Media. Gizmodo owns Deadspin.
Bell’s lawsuit claims that a Deadspin article, published in June 2016, entitled “How America’s Favorite Sports Betting Expert Turned A Sucker’s Game Into An Industry,” contains false and defamatory statements, including the assertion that Pregame takes commissions from sports books and profits from its clients’ losses. Bell is also suing the author of the article, Ryan Goldberg.
An offending paragraph from the article, which Pregame disputes, states:
“It’s a can’t-miss business plan, and it pays off twice. First when customers buy the picks, and again when they fork over their money to sports books on those losing bets. This might explain why Pregame is so generous with discounts like ‘bulk dollars’ and half-price coupons, and why Bell trumpets the savings of subscriptions over single-game purchases. Pregame has every incentive to keep buyers in the fold, and keep them betting.”
The article, which at the time of writing had not been removed from the Deadspin site, also claims that had “you bought and played all of Pregame’s picks since 2011, you’d be down $1,359,432,” figures hotly disputed by the lawsuit.
Billionaire Bent on Revenge
Bell says that if he wins the lawsuit he will donate the money to the creation of scholarships for journalism students at UNLV, in order to promote a “trustworthy press,” which, he said, is more important than his own financial restitution.
“Pregame.com … considers sacred the protections provided by the US Constitution to the practice of journalism,” he said in an official statement. “It’s my related belief that any journalist who maliciously lies must be held responsible. Not only because punishment is just in such cases, but more importantly because such disregard for journalist standards places the future rights of honest journalists at risk.”
Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker was famously bankrolled by billionaire PayPal founder Peter Thiel, who wanted to put the site out of business as revenge for outing him in 2007 under the headline “Peter Thiel is totally gay, people.”
Bell declined to comment on whether Thiel had financed his lawsuit.
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