The Vegas Stats & Information Network (VSiN) launched in 2017 as the first sports media company to focus on the multibillion-dollar industry of sports betting. Legendary broadcaster Brent Musburger is the voice and face of VSiN, but he is quick to credit his nephew, Brian, with hatching the original plan for the network.
On one NFL Sunday at the South Point Casino in Las Vegas, the Musburgers spent two hours in a showroom lounge discussing the potential of the venture.
“Brian had the original idea, and for a couple of years he’d been coming to me and asking questions about the possibility,” Musburger said. “We knew that a lot of people sold picks and there was enormous corruption throughout the industry with regard to (touts). So, the idea was to discuss these (games and picks) from a more intelligent viewpoint.”
More than four years later, VSiN is flourishing with studios in the sportsbooks at the South Point and Circa Resort & Casino in Vegas.
Musburger, who also handles radio play-by-play duties for the Las Vegas Raiders at the age of 82, took time out of a typically busy day for this exclusive interview with Gaming Today.
GAMING TODAY: How is everything in the world of VSiN today?
MUSBURGER: Never better! We went from the dark side of town to the penthouse. It’s been an incredible journey the past few years.
GT: What stands out from the start of that journey?
MUSBURGER: Even though I was the voice of gambling information at ESPN, this idea belonged to Brian, and he pulled it off. I was happy to be a part of it. I had a long-term contract at ESPN, and they were very gracious about letting me out of the deal so I could go to Las Vegas and be part of VSiN.
GT: Gambling was a dirty word in the NFL and other sports for so long. How refreshing is it now to have it be not only legitimized but actively promoted by teams and leagues?
MUSBURGER: It’s what it should be. But I say this in every interview especially to youngsters betting on games: ‘Be careful, OK?’ Those are very tough lines to beat over the long haul. There’s a handful of guys that probably cash six-figure chips, but there’s a lot more who lose along the way.
GT: How would you characterize your own approach to wagering on sports?
MUSBURGER: Listen, I do it recreationally. I don’t for a moment think that I could make a living betting on sports. I would lose in the long haul, and I honestly believe that. But, as far as having fun with it, it makes you feel a part of the game. Recreationally, I’m all for it. But for those out there thinking they can make a living out of it, I would think twice about that.
GT: The Raiders didn’t appear to be a team in turmoil in their first game without Jon Gruden at Denver. What’s your forecast for the team moving forward? Fade or follow?
MUSBURGER: It’s a very interesting question. I’m a radio guy and I pull for them in every game, but it’s a very tough week-to-week league. If they can get that ‘W’ against the Eagles this week and head to their bye week feeling really good about themselves (at 5-2), the playoffs are a probability not a possibility. Since (the line is Raiders minus) three this week, I would take the Raiders. If it goes to three-and-a-half, I would say beware of that hook.
GT: What’s your secret to staying so active with business and broadcasting now at 82?
MUSBURGER: I decided a long time ago to never retire; you have to keep going. You’ve got to have something to look forward to every day when you get up. Now let me put a little asterisk here. It isn’t like I had to go to a coal mine. I got to look at games and travel around the country. I love every day, I love being involved with sports, and I love living here in Vegas. It keeps me young.
GT: Things are moving so fast in the industry with more and more states going through the legislation process. How surprised are you with the pace of growth?
MUSBURGER: Even being part of it here at VSiN, I am slightly surprised at the boom that has just taken off. For years, and I always said hypocritically, the National Football League took a very hard stance against gambling. But now that it’s legal, you can’t watch an NFL game without a reference to (it). I thought it might creep in a little bit and grow, but I was wrong. It exploded. There is a lot of money to be made by the NFL and good for them. They put on a nice product. It’s fun to watch and fun to bet on.
Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited for the purposes of brevity and clarity.