Matt Perrault knows there is change coming to sports talk radio. It’s a change that began in Las Vegas and is slowly spreading to broadcast booths around the country.
“We’re going from subjective to objective,” he says. “Hot takes are subjective, but being open about betting lines and gambling is objective.
“I think that’s because the audience is changing what they want.”
Perrault’s prediction: sports gambling will take hold of the nation’s fans just as daily fantasy and poker did in the previous decade. If that prediction holds true, he’ll be happy to have had a front row seat.
The veteran sports analyst and host of SB Nation’s “Pushing the Odds” is an eyewitness to change as he sits behind a microphone in a studio inside the CG Technology Sportsbook at Palms Casino Resort. He describes his show as a traditional talk show that also heavily features conversations about the numbers, and specifically, how current events impact what’s happening in the sportsbook.
“I believe that’s what sports talk shows are going to sound like in a few years,” he says. “But we’re ahead of the curve because we’re here in Vegas.”
A Year of All-Star Memories
Since the early 2018 launch of “Pushing the Odds,” Perrault has grown the show in large part thanks to his location inside the CG Sportsbook. Being so close to the action has raised the attention of listeners and guests, even those who sometimes stop by at random. We asked Perrault to run down his favorite highlights of his show so far:
- In-Studio Guests
“Having a home in Vegas at a property like the Palms, inside a sportsbook, gives me the opportunity to have so many great guests come in studio to be on the show,” the host says. “We will have even more in the future, too.”
- Michael Symon Stops by the Studio
Some of Perrault’s favorite “Pushing the Odds” guests are those who don’t make sports betting their business. Those outsiders, he says, become some of his favorite interview guests.
“Chef Michael Symon, coming by after opening [Mabel’s BBQ] at Palms to talk Super Bowl LII was really cool,” Perrault recalls. “I’m a huge Food Network fan and he’s a big sports fan, so being able to talk Kyler Murray or Baker Mayfield and Cleveland sports — that was a cool moment personally, because I like to hear gambling and sports opinions from people who do other things.
- Up to the Second Updates
Not only is Perrault’s show ahead of the curve from a content perspective, he’s also broadcasting from a location few others in his professions can even access. When a player signs or is injured, that impacts what happens at the betting window just a few feet away.
“The No. 1 thing about the show being at Palms is the access we have to information at the sportsbook,” he says. The conversations I’m having every week, with a variety of people, gives us insight to what is happening in real-time.
- Interacting with Listeners
“It’s always fun when someone knocks on the door of the studio to tell me that they listen to the show or found out about the show because we broadcast from the Palms each weekday,” he says. “As Palms continues to grow there are so many new faces coming in, and it’s great to have people pop their head in and ask my advice. It’s such a huge component to how the show is growing.”
- First NFL Season in the Studio
Perrault cites his first “Pushing the Odds” NFL season and Super Bowl LLI as being his favorite events to cover from his broadcast booth in the first year. While he’s isolated in his studio, he can see everything through the glass walls and carry on conversations that don’t match the typical commentator takes.
“Being at the CG Sportsbook for the NFL games on Monday and Thursday games was really fun,” he says. “That [Super Bowl] week was awesome for us. Everyone else was talking about X’s and O’s and we were talking about sports betting.”
When it comes to broadcasting the NCAA tournament, Perrault says the “madness” never gets old and the Palms atmosphere is perfect for his brand of talk radio.
“We follow the games, we talk about the numbers, the lines, and try to educate people as to how they see the tournament and how they’re going to bet the tournament,” he says. “It’s chaotic, it’s crazy, but it’s a whole lot of fun.”
On a recent show, Perrault addressed the debate over whether Las Vegas is a better venue for the Super Bowl or March Madness. While both can be a pricey trip, he says the latter wins hands down.
“A lot of people talk about the Super Bowl like, ‘Oh my god, I want to be in Las Vegas!’ but I believe the best time to come as a sports fan is the first four days of the tournament,” he says. “There’s more going on, there’s more bang for your buck, it’s just nonstop action.
“I recommend people come in, download the [CG sportsbook] app, sit there, and enjoy betting on as many games as possible.”
Too Early for Predictions?
Perrault’s “Pushing the Odds” airs during what he calls a “prime slot” for sports bettors: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the East coast. He knows there will be a lot of fans tuning in during the buildup to the tournament, but he’s not ready to reveal any predictions. Anything can happen, he says; just look at Duke forward Zion Williamson’s knee strain.
“I love the bracket, I love the tournament, but I never say who’s gonna win until Selection Sunday,” Perrault says.
A Taste of the Palms
Part of what makes his job so thrilling, Perrault explains, is the home court. Broadcasting from the Palms every weekday, the host has seen the fruits of the resort’s $690 million makeover. Whether he’s talking to a friend coming in from out of town, a listener and fan of the show, or even a random stranger in the casino, he’s not shy about sharing his recommendations for tournament dining.
“If you can find a way to get a reservation at Sara’s, it’s an amazing experience,” he says of the hidden restaurant inside Mabel’s BBQ.
“It’s one of the best restaurants I’ve been to in my life and one of the best in Vegas,” he says. “They do cocktails the way it was done in the Frank Sinatra days, and it’s a must for anyone coming into town if you can get in there.”
Pushing the Odds with Matt Perrault is heard nationally on SB Nation Radio, a sports radio network owned by Gow Media. It airs weekdays from the CG Technology Sportsbook at Palms Casino Resort