Sports gamblers are getting valuable data from a former NFL doctor who tweets his injury assessments in real time

  • Dr. David Chao, a former doctor for the San Diego Chargers, has become famous for assessing NFL injuries in real time.
  • The data is used by sports bettors, among others.

Sports bettors have always looked for any edge they can find. As sports gambling gains legalization across the country, the next frontier for finding that edge is real-time medical information.

Enter Dr. David Chao, aka @ProFootballDoc, a former team doctor for the San Diego Chargers. Dr. Chao is now a force on Twitter, podcasts, newspapers and radio shows, quickly using game video to let audiences know his opinion of an injury's severity.

Dr. Chao watches up to 8 games at a time looking for injuries
Dr. David Chao / Mary Powell
Dr. Chao watches up to 8 games at a time looking for injuries

"If you think about it, it makes sense," said Chao about what he does. He compares himself to former referees who are now part of live game broadcasts. "You have all the Mike Pereiras of the world, the former officials deciphering what is or isn't a touchdown or a what is a holding call. I am just doing a similar thing in the medical venue. I call it the medical Mike Pereira."

Just this past weekend, when Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes appeared to suffer a knee injury, Dr. Chao tweeted he wasn't concerned about the knee within minutes.

The knee turned out to be fine and the Chiefs went on to beat the Colts without much of a challenge. Dr. Chao said his accuracy is over 90 percent. He's also careful to note that what he does is very different from real medical analysis.

"This is not diagnosis. This is not a substitute for a hands-on exam or imaging studies," Dr. Chao. "This is video impressions. This is no different than Tony Romo or any experienced QB in the NFL saying it's going to go to the tight end based on the coverage. It's just insider knowledge, not insider information."

Dr. Chao providing instant injury analysis during NFL playoffs
Dr. David Chao / Mary Powell
Dr. Chao providing instant injury analysis during NFL playoffs

These insights are hard currency for gamblers who know how dramatically a game's path can change based on one injury. There's money to be made, even though it's not life changing. "My main monetization is my practice still as an orthopedic surgeon," Chao said. "This is a fun hobby that thankfully is becoming monetized. It was never the original goal to do this to make a living. There is monetization coming and I think it may grow with the legalization of gambling."

The NFL league office did not respond to a CNBC inquiry for its opinion on this trend.

As legalized sports gambling grows across the country state by state, look for more doctors like Dr. Chao to pop up and offer their own instant injury opinions. Many top notch professional gamblers however will want to pay those doctors keep those opinions off the internet, so that the gamblers can maintain that extra edge.