FanDuel Partnering With Shock Jock Craig Carton Could Be Impactful, But Risk Involved

Written By Mike Mazzeo on September 27, 2021

The executive director for the National Council on Problem Gambling called FanDuel’s partnership with WFAN shock jock Craig Carton “an inspired hire.”

But Keith Whyte also acknowledged that there is some risk involved given Carton’s checkered past.

Carton served slightly more than a year in prison due to a multi-year million fraud scheme used to pay off his gambling debts.

Last week, he partnered with FanDuel to become the company’s first national responsible gaming ambassador. Carton owes $4.8 million in restitution to his fraud victims.

“My initial thought was it was an inspired hire by FanDuel,” Whyte told PlayNY. “We believe that people in recovery can do anything. And we’re really proud that Craig is going to put himself and his story forward to be a responsible gambling ambassador.

“However, we would note, there’s risk for him in both his personal recovery, and I think there’s also risk all around. His story is a cautionary tale. And I think it creates an obligation among FanDuel to absolutely make sure that they have as many responsible gambling resources in place as possible.”

Carton Says FanDuel Partnership Isn’t Marketing Stunt

While on WFAN to announce the deal alongside FanDuel’s Chief Marketing Officer, Carton said this was not a marketing stunt.

“FanDuel is not using the name Craig Carton, or the Carton and Roberts platform, to acquire more customers,” Carton said. “They have plenty of customers. They don’t need me or (my co-host) to do that. The purpose of this is to get the idea of responsible gambling out there, and I’ve said many times if FanDuel announced it on their own and used the FanDuel voice to do it or a pretty model, it’s going to fall on deaf ears because it’s not real. I want people to know that addiction is real.”

Financial details were not disclosed, but the polarizing sports radio personality potentially profiting off his addiction, and ironically being paid by a gambling company, was a topic that made its way onto social media. A non-profit partnership would’ve made for better optics.

“It creates some uncomfortable conversations around where modern responsible gambling is going,” Whyte said. “We’re (the National Council) not privy to any of those details. But there are a lot of people who have suffered harm from gambling that I think can provide that authenticity. But it is fraught with the potential for him to either become just a corporate shill or for him to jeopardize some personal recovery. I hope that risk is fairly low.

Carton Could Make Positive Impact On Next Generation

Whyte is hopeful that Carton, who has climbed the radio ratings after getting a second chance, makes a positive impact on the younger demographic of potential problem gamblers.

“We work with Craig. He keynoted our 35th national conference in July. He works with our New Jersey chapter quite extensively. We’ve had these discussions (that a non-profit partnership could’ve been more impactful). But FanDuel has a much bigger platform,” Whyte said. “If done right, Craig and his story can really help reach young male sports bettors, in particular. And perhaps that’s going to make them think twice before they lose the house.

“He’s a cautionary tale, and hopefully it will encourage some of those high-risk, young male sports bettors who we have a hard time reaching. They may listen to Craig, if he’s sending a good, positive responsible gambling message as I think is his intent.”

Photo by AP / John Minchillo
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Mike Mazzeo

Mike Mazzeo is the Lead Writer for PlayNY, arriving after covering several of New York's professional sports teams in a variety of roles for the past decade. Previously, he served as a beat writer and columnist covering the Brooklyn Nets (ESPN) and New York Yankees (New York Daily News). Mike also covered both the MLB and NBA nationally for Yahoo Sports. In addition, he served as a general assignment reporter for ESPN NewYork.com. He has also had bylines in the New York Times, New York Post, Newsday, Forbes and The Ringer. With PlayNY, Mike brings extensive coverage and unique story angles to what is projected to be one of the biggest and most lucrative online sports betting markets in the country. It's been an arduous and confounding process to get here, but 20 million New Yorkers (many of them die-hards) are now legally able to bet on their favorite sports teams across the state via online and mobile platforms.

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