Art Manteris, the director of race and sports operations at the Las Vegas Hilton, captured several of the ironies of his business and the state of Nevada in his self-indulgent book “SuperBookie,” written with former L.A. Daily News columnist Rick Talley.
After an anonymous phone call to the Nevada Gaming Commission linked Manteris to the Mafia, he was the subject of an investigation by the Gaming Control Board. He was cleared of any association with organized crime, but during the investigation learned that the individual has no rights because having a gaming license is not a right, but a revocable privilege.
Manteris wrote: ". . . When the NCAA kicked UNLV in the teeth for alleged recruiting violations, there was some loud screaming in Nevada, and several federal and state politicians instituted legislation to stop the NCAA from operating without ‘due process.’
“I found that to be comical, because the top industry in the state of Nevada operates solely without due process.”
Add due process: Las Vegas casinos have long had the ability to get rid of people who were doing, of all crazy things, winning. Manteris writes: " . . . If I find a player with two (sic) much of an edge, I have the right to refuse his bet. . . .
“We’re not in the business to line the pockets of highly sophisticated, intelligent, professional betting combines. That’s why there are specific individuals and groups banned from playing in the (Hilton sports book.)”
Trivia question: What father-son golfing duo has become masters of the double-eagle?
Why not hockey: Manteris says that hockey is a good bet for sports books because its profit margin is higher than for any other sport.
But it wasn’t always that way. Writes Manteris: “Bookmakers figured that the only people wanting to bet on hockey probably knew too much.
“Then things changed because (a) the market was so competitive and (b) more hockey was available for television . . . and it certainly didn’t hurt Nevada business when Wayne Gretzky came to the L.A. Kings.”
On the inside?The book continues: “A man who normally wagered $500 on an NBA game was suddenly betting $5,000 and winning. So (professional gambler Lem) Barker and (oddsmaker Bob) Martin began following the guy’s bets, and even though they never had solid proof, they discovered that all the man’s big plays were tied to games involving a specific referee. They reported their findings to the NBA; nothing formal was ever announced, but the referee was soon out of the league.”
Call 1-900-RIPOFFS: Manteris offers this advice to bettors: “Stay away from tout services, because 99.9 percent of them are absolute frauds.
“How many times have you seen an advertisement from a tout service that claims to pick 80 percent winners? . . . If a guy can pick 80 percent, why doesn’t he just bet and retire to the French Riviera?”
Trivia answer: Bruce Devlin (one of only two golfers to make one in the Masters) and son Kel (one of only two to get one on the Ben Hogan Tour).
Quotebook: Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) asked Fay Vincent, commissioner of baseball, if he considered horse racing to be sports betting. Vincent replied: “As far as I’m concerned, horse racing isn’t sports.”