Kelly Stewart in Action. Photograph: Amanda Westcott/Showtime

Action’s most cutting analysis on the burgeoning ecosystem of sports gambling comes from a handicapper, Kelly Stewart, one of Vegas’s only female sports gambling experts and a former bottle-service girl who can spit odds and honest barbs on the Vegas media landscape in equal measure. Stewart was one plane ticket away from moving to Costa Rica last year when legalization kicked her media career, formerly siloed in betting circles, into the mainstream. Now, she’s zigzagging between radio shows and WagerTalk videos, with the added women’s work of protecting respect and relevance through the expensive and relentless pursuit of youth. The camera lingers on Stewart’s makeup brushes, her spiked stilettos and sheath dresses, the blood on her face as she undergoes a painful laser procedure. “As someone who knows she has a shelf life, I have five years to maximize what I want to do,” she says.

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<p>The candidness can be staggering, frustrating, but “I did want them to see that side because men don’t have to do that in our industry,” Stewart says by phone. “The reality is that I do have to go get Botox, I do have to get my teeth whitened,” because you don’t see unattractive women on sports media TV. “That’s the world that we live in, and I wasn’t afraid to say that.”</p>
<p>Though flush with the sounds of freshly aired bills and cheers from a buzzed crowd, Action doesn’t shy away from the darker aspects of sports gambling – there’s a row of liquor bottles, Stewart’s grimaces as she keeps up appearances, Oancea staving off loneliness through weekends living at his parents’ house. A large part of the second episode focuses on the testimony of both gambling addicts and addiction experts.</p>
<p>“I always wanted to put a total objective lens on the industry,” Korem says of those choices. “I don’t want to just praise sports betting as something that’s going to be great. With the good is the bad.”</p>
<p>If we’re already in a world saturated by the language of gambling – “underdog” and “favorite” are Vegas terms, after all – then any examination of sports gambling is an opportunity to see the parameters of sports today more clearly. “Ultimately, I hope that it stirs up a conversation,” Korem said of his hope for Action. “I think that’s really healthy, so that we go into this with an open mindset and not just with rosy glasses.”</p>
<p>Action starts on Showtime on 24 March</p>
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‘We’re not allowed to talk about it’: inside the world of us sports betting
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