Churchill Downs sportsbook missed here in Vegas

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Who remembers, the Burger Hut?

Owner Frank Masterani and his runner extraordinaire Hershey were the official un-official go to guys in the 70s to 80s Vegas sports betting world. Need a score or an odds update when you couldn’t make it to your sportsbook? Too late, too early or you just needed a sports fix you could count on Frank and Hershey. They dispensed more scores, odds, “advice” than burgers. What a joint.

The Tower of Pizza: Part owner Jasper Speciale gave me my first job in Vegas. From the 60s to the early 80s Jasper and his silent partner Bobby Berent put out authentic Italian food in the never-to-be-replicated, top hangout for Strip celebrities, casino workers and wiseguys from Vegas and out of town.

Go behind the bar and make your own drink; go in the kitchen to ask the chef to make your dish your way; make a bet or borrow a br (bankroll) if you’re going bad.

The tips were unreal and the connections I made were also unreal for a 27-year-old kid like me.

Churchill Downs: A Hollywood set, a Damon Runyon scene. The betting parlor in “The Sting” but a bit more Spartan. I wish we all had memories from Churchill Downs sportsbook. It would survive today in the face of the mega hotels and their monstrous race and sportsbooks. We didn’t go there for comps since the only thing comped were Oreos (two only) and coffee.

No bar, cocktail waitresses or food. One small TV but the place was always busy. You went there to bet sports and horses, watch scores come in on the early, air driven reader board, listen for the clank of the UPI ticker hoping it signaled a good score. There were plenty of steam horses if you had any money left, plenty of locks in the sportsbook.

Big bettors who were somehow always flush rubbed elbows with little guys looking to put a br together. Hotel/casino owners sat WITH chronic scufflers. We were all equal.

Yes, Churchill Downs would survive in todays collection of mega race and sportsbooks as long as it remained as it was in the 60s to the 80s. Bob Martin, Harry Gordon and Frank Hall were true bookmakers who booked with their own money.

Scotty Schettler began his Las Vegas journey in 1968. By the time he quit the race and sports book business he had booked over $1.5 billion for different employers. He says he knows where most of the cans are buried. His book,  is available on amazon.com. Contact Scotty at [email protected].

 

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