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It was 1986 when Art Manteris first hired Chuck Esposito at Caesars Palace. Between Esposito’s smarts in sports and learning Manteris’ bookmaking philosophy, Esposito grew into one of the top bookmakers in the state and soon was running Caesars Palace while Manteris moved on to oversee the Station Casinos chain of local sports books.

Now, 26 years later, the two are reunited again. When Esposito became available earlier this year, Manteris jumped at the opportunity to bring him into the Station race and sports book operation.

Esposito’s office is at the Sunset Station race and sports book and he’ll be heading into his first football season running one of the locals’ favorites, as well as being an intricate part of Team Manteris that includes Jason McCormick and Bert Cirincione.

With the first week of preseason football just passing, Esposito has already noticed some major differences from last season.

“You can definitely feel more of a buzz with preseason this year compared to last year,” Esposito said. “The buildup has been gaining momentum with all kinds of great story lines like Peyton Manning returning after missing a year. Last year we had the lockout as the main story coming into preseason. This year the fans have had months of anticipation for the season to begin.

Esposito is excited about the season beginning and loves the fact that there doesn’t look to be a team capable of going 0-16 this year.

“I don’t believe there’s any league, except for maybe the NHL, that has as much parity as pro football, which kind of gives every fan that feeling that their team has a shot, no matter who it is,” he said. “You can make a case for several lower tiered teams to do well this season.”

The Patriots and Packers have season win totals posted at 12, the highest number among the 32 teams, but Esposito has a lot of question marks placed upon each – more so than might be expected from teams expected to reach the Super Bowl.

“They have a lot of unanswered questions that could see them brought closer to the pack,” Esposito said. “Tom Brady is 35 years old and he’s got another new bunch of receivers. How likely is it that Rob Gronkowski can match his great 2011 performance? The Packers are still going to throw the ball well, but their downfall is they can’t stop anyone. They also didn’t even have a runner get over 100 yards rushing last season.”

One area that will be new for Esposito is the massive amount of contests and promotions Station Casinos offers. Esposito was there when the Las Vegas Hilton Super Contest began, but the scale in which Station does promos and contests is in a completely different stratosphere from everyone else.

No one offers more overlay cash on the table to be taken during football season than Station. It’s a business model that has been highly successful over the years and has kept contestants consistently coming through the doors sampling all the other amenities offered throughout the casino.

Station will again be offering $2 million in cash and prizes for their popular Great Giveaway contest, which has been voted the most popular in the city for 18 straight years. In addition to the cash prizes, the $25 entry fee also allows contestants the opportunity to win cars and houses by either picking the most winners or losers. They even have a category that pays out for being very ordinary. It’s called the fiddle-in-the-middle.

A few years ago, Station came up with the “Last Man Standing” concept, a different type of contest from Great Giveaway, appealing to bettors more because it has a point-spread attached. For $25, contestants pick one game a week. If you win that week, you get to pick again the following week until eventually there is one last man, or woman, standing. All the entry fees are returned as prize money and they guarantee $75,000 for the pro contest and $25,000 for the college.

Last year the pro payout was $86,325 and if a contestant is fortunate enough to win both the pro and college contest, Station kicks in an additional $100,000 bonus.

One of the promotions Station will continue this year is the $1 million parlay cards offered on Wednesdays and Fridays. Picking 15-out-of-15 against the spread pays $100,000 and 20-out-of-20 pays $1 million. They’ll also be offering $1 hot dogs and Budweiser at any of their casinos whenever there is a football game on.

Esposito also noted their in-game wagering has become very popular and they’ll be doing it for all the key games during the season.

Station definitely make it hard not to stop by one their 17 books throughout the city. Realistically, it costs you more money to stay home and watch the games.

And if you get a chance to sign-up for any of the contests at Sunset Station, be sure to say hello to Chuck and welcome him into the locals market. He’s one of the most engaging and personable sports book directors in Las Vegas who loves to take time out and talk sports with his customers.

Wi-Fi wagering

Cantor Gaming unveiled their Wi-Fi wagering system that now allows bettors to bet from almost any device within the state of Nevada using any Wi-Fi network without requiring 3G or 4G location capability.

“Introducing Wi-Fi enabled sports wagering on personal computing devices was a natural goal after the release of our Android-compatible sports wagering application last October,” said Lee Amaitis, president and CEO at Cantor Gaming.

“The best way to do it is go online to and download the application to your lap top, any tablet or phone,” Cantor sports book director Mike Colbert informed us. “It will work with any Wi-Fi connection and you can bet everything through it that we offer inside the book.”

One of the new innovations Cantor books will have this year is not using parlay cards in the sense we have all been used. They will have daily cards posted through account wagering offered in the book and on all the new aps, but not in the paper format we have all been accustomed to. This process should at least put an end to sharp groups round-robining cards at the Cantor books.

Cantor getting into the online business now gives Station Casinos’ Sports Connection some competition. For 10 years, Station has had that market all to itself

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