Editor’s note: Sports wagering is a huge business, especially during football season. According to NBC News people wagered $1.34 billion on just football in 2011. Bettors are always looking for an edge and some turn to “Sports Advisement” companies. The following is the story of one Northern California business.
Ever since he was young in Fremont, Kent Elola understood football. He played the game in high school and college. He then became a highly regarded sportswriter, with his football coverage consistently drawing raves in the Bay Area.
But when the newspaper world basically came crashing down, Elola was laid off.
While covering sports, Elola found that he had a level of success picking winners in football games. Without a job, he was further intrigued by the world of “sports advising.”
Along the way he had made a contact in New York – the center of sports advising – and had a standing offer to, in essence, interview for a position in a firm.
“I had basically told the guy I knew more than he did,” said Elola. “They flew me out to New York, showed me the business and I decided to try.”
They set Elola up in an apartment in New Jersey, with an agreement he would spend two years learning the ropes and working on football games. He did well, but began to get disillusioned by the cut-throat nature of the business.
The firm charged a monthly fee to bettors. Win or lose, client still owed a fee.
“I can remember being on the phone with a lady one time and she was crying about how my boss had told her he had a sure winner,” explained Elola. “When she lost her bet, she was crying and upset and my boss was standing next to me when I was on the phone basically laughing. It bothered me.”
It also bothered him that “some people give out both sides of a game and then they call the people on the winning side.”
Finally in 2008, Elola decided to return to California and give it a go on his own, founding Kent Elola Sports.
“If I wanted to stay in New York and rip people off, I could have stayed and made good money,” said Elola. “But I have confidence in my own ability and my own picks.”
He added the twist comes by providing accountability for his picks with his clients.
“I will give my opinion on any game each week,” said Elola of his clients. “I get a 25 percent commission of the profit they make.”
Here is the twist. If the client doesn’t win, they don’t pay. And Elola takes it a step further.
“If they have a bad week, I will help them make it up before they pay me again,” explained Elola of the almost unheard of practice. “If they don’t win, they are not paying me a thing.”
The system works as he rarely runs into someone who doesn’t pay Elola his commission.
“About 95 percent of them want to pay,” said Elola. “They are happy they won and they want to win again.”
There are other clients who are not looking at a specific game, but want Elola’s knowledge of all the games on a given weekend so they pay a flat rate.
Elola has built up a loyal customer base of people throughout the world. Recently he bought a house outside of Sacramento (closer to Reno where he makes his bets) and paid cash for it.
He was able to expand his “office”, a necessity during football.
“I have three TV’s and two laptops,” says Elola. “Football season is pretty crazy as I watch every single game. I spend about 10 hours a day, six days a week watching and working. Saturday’s I am up at 6 a.m. and watch games until 11 p.m.”
Initially Elola focused on football (it still is 75 percent of his business) but he has become successful in baseball and soccer as well.
Elola is a sports bettor as well and spends most of his weekends, especially during football season, in Reno.
“The most I have won on a single bet was $47,000 when Seattle beat Denver in the Super Bowl,” said Elola. “And all my clients were on it as well.”
For more information on Kent Elola Sports, check out his Facebook page or call (510) 209-0730.