For years, former San Diego Chargers team doctor David Chao has been giving instant injury analysis to NFL fans around the world. Tweeting under the moniker @ProFootballDoc, Chao spends every Sunday dissecting replays and interpreting injuries for his nearly 150,000 followers.

This past weekend, some of those fans noticed a change. When New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley limped off the field following an ankle injury, Chao tweeted that his analysis was being posted first for subscribers on his new website.

Chao, who left the Chargers under a cloud in 2013, is in the early phases of launching a new subscription service, which he hopes will give unprecedented insight into the secretive world of NFL injuries. Free for now, though a paywall is likely coming next year, is aimed at helping gamblers and fantasy-sports enthusiasts make smarter decisions with their money.

The pivot is happening because Chao’s weekend hobby became more like a second job. He says he was spending 40 hours a week on his Twitter work, done in the living room of his Southern California home, in addition to his orthopedic practice.

“The question was, ‘Do I keep doing this from my couch, or turn this into an actual business?’ And the tipping point was gambling,” Chao said in an interview. “Gambling makes the business.”

As legal sports wagering spreads across the country, businesses that cater to bettors are also expanding. Fox Sports and ESPN have daily gambling shows, and the Action Network, a digital subscription service that provides gambling news and data, has a membership tier that costs $116.50 per month. Tout services, which dispense betting advice for a fee, are also growing more prevalent.

In-Game Betting
Chao views his work as another service that might help bettors gain an edge, especially for popular in-game wagering. During last week’s game between the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns, for example, star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. left the field shortly before the end of the first half, escorted by medical personnel.

Chao quickly tweeted that he didn’t believe it was serious. Beckham was likely headed to the locker room for his usual IV fluids, Chao said. “Expect him back for 2nd half.” Beckham returned to the game and caught an 89-yard touchdown in Cleveland’s 23-3 win.

“I will never say, ‘Pick this team,’” Chao said. “My lane is injuries; my lane is not handicapping.”

What started as Chao tweeting his thoughts is now a much bigger operation, with a dozen people working on the new site. Their war room has four TVs, plus six additional monitors and a handful of computers.

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