With Bet Bash 3 on tap for next week in downtown Las Vegas, there’s one element of the four-day event attendees seem to be looking forward to most: the one-on-one interview with Billy Walters, universally regarded as the greatest sports bettor of all time. Spanky, the event’s organizer and a fellow professional bettor of Walters’, will conduct the Q&A.
Listeners of Spanky’s podcast, “Be Better Bettors”, know his go-to first question. “How was life growing up?,” he asks his guests.
That’s not how he’ll kick off his talk with Walters.
Walters’ public appearances have been few and far between – next Friday’s at the Circa Resort & Casino will be only the third interview he’s ever done (he appeared on 60 Minutes in 2011 and with VSiN’s Brent Musburger last year) – and Spanky wants to give the Bet Bash audience exactly what they’re there for.
“This is a sports betting conference, and I want people to get actionable information or some type of tips,” Spanky told Gaming Today on Tuesday, exactly one week before the start of his conference. “(I’ll) get into the weeds a little bit.
“The first question I’m going to ask him is, ‘How do you do it?’ To be able to be the best at what you do for as long as he’s done it is incredible. Everything’s going to be sports betting focused.”
Walters’ book, “Gambler: Secrets from a Life at Risk”, is set for an Aug. 22 release, and Spanky said he won’t get into Walters’ conviction for insider trading and subsequent prison term or other personal topics Walters likely writes about in the book.
“I’m going to ask him how he bets the game,” added Spanky, “We’re going to get into the process, how big his team is, what role different people have, how do you run such a sophisticated and highly successful sports betting operation?”
Sports Gambling Hall of Fame
While acknowledging the SBC’s Sports Betting Hall of Fame, Spanky believes people on his side of the counter deserve recognition, too, and the 2023 inductees feature both bookmakers and bettors.
Despite anticipating 400-500 attendees paying between $699 (early-bird price) to $1,099 for VIP, Spanky says he’ll be happy to break even on Bet Bash. Part of his motivation is “to be able to recognize those individuals that have paved the way on both sides of the counter for me to be able to do what I do and bet sports for a living. It’s something that needed to be done. It’s been a long time coming.”
The Sports Gambling Hall of Fame, an interactive exhibit, will take up permanent residence inside the lavish Circa Sportsbook.
Looks like @CircaSports is working on a 'Sports Gambling HALL OF FAME'
Who's on your ballot? pic.twitter.com/oeEIvdOpwJ
— Sports Gambling Podcast ™ (@GamblingPodcast) July 29, 2023
Here is the inaugural class:
- Billy Walters. The world’s greatest sports gambler.
- Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal (1929-2008). Professional gambler and Las Vegas casino executive. Portrayed by Robert De Niro’s character Sam “Ace” Rothstein in Martin Scorsese’s 1995 film “Casino”.
- Roxy Roxborough. Former bookmaker known for revolutionizing oddsmaking via mathematics and technology.
- Bob Martin (1918-2001). Credited with having the most influence on the Vegas opening line throughout the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s. Invented the half-point line.
- Jackie Gaughan (1920-2014). Las Vegas casino owner and operator.
- Charles Kline McNeil (1903-1981). Inventor of the point spread.
- Jack Franzi (1928-2019). Foremost a handicapper and bettor, also a top bookmaker.
- Jimmy Vaccaro. Currently at the South Point sportsbook in Las Vegas, introduced halftime and quarter wagering.
- Scott Schettler. Designed, opened, and operated four sports and race books, including the Stardust, where all bettors were given a chance to bet into opening lines.
- Billy Baxter. Pro poker player and sports bettor, called by some the best all-around gambler.
Where Are the Recreational Books at Bet Bash?
Noticeably absent from the Bet Bash 3 agenda are any recreational sportsbooks, such as DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and Caesars. On separate panels at Bet Bash 2 in April 2022, Johnny Avello represented DraftKings and Jason Scott was there for BetMGM.
On the panel titled “Ethics in Sports Betting”, Avello was peppered with difficult questions, mainly about unreasonable betting limits imposed on DraftKings customers.
Avello “held his own, and Johnny’s a consummate professional,” Spanky said.
All books were invited to attend Bet Bash 3, and “The Sharp Model vs. the Recreational Model” was among the topics considered for panels, but there were no takers this time around, according to Spanky.
“I put an open invitation out on Twitter multiple times,” Spanky said. “ … I dangled the carrot, I invited, I reached out. I think (DraftKings CEO) Jason Robins did tell me that some of his staff is going to be coming, but they’re not going to be participating in any panels.”
These recreational books often participate in more mainstream industry conferences, but passing on Bet Bash is an opportunity missed.
“I’m holding a conference by bettors for bettors, and heck man, if you want to be able to go to a conference where you actually can see your customers, particularly some of the more sophisticated customers, and kind of address their issues, talk about what you have planned, maybe get some feedback, it would be a home run. …
“I urge anybody on the other side of the counter, any bookmaker, any regulator, anybody that’s involved in this to come out and hear what sports bettors have to say.”