You have to admire the brilliance of brothers Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta who bought a once struggling UFC for $2 million in 2000 and sold it Monday for $4 billion to Hollywood talent agency WME-IMG.
That’s an amazing 200,000 percent return on investment, and if you’ve been around Las Vegas for the past two decades you’ve seen their genius in action several times as they grew Station Casinos from the hole-in-the-wall Bingo Palace on Sahara Avenue into a giant as the premiere locals chain of casinos with 19 properties.
The brothers’ magic touch in both cases was marketing and giving the public what they wanted. For gamblers at their casinos, they listened to everything that would make visits more regular and comfortable. They analyzed the situation and realized the gamblers wanted to be appreciated – not just those with big money on the blackjack tables, but also the nickel slot players who played daily.
They introduced a players club and rewards program that soon everyone in town followed after seeing the success and rise Station was having. Revenues soared and the brothers re-invested in the company by building more casinos.
They dominated their locals market and followed the same plan with the UFC. They were able to market globally with the UFC and found people wanted more, everywhere – Ireland, Brazil, Germany, Poland and Russia. They brought in longtime friend and Bishop Gorman high school buddy Dana White to run the UFC because of his energy and no nonsense attitude. The trio created a market when there was none. When the UFC was at its highest peak of value, they got out at the right time, while still holding a minority ownership.
So what’s next for the Ferttita brothers? They like the spotlight so maybe Hollywood is in their future. Maybe they can show an industry how to make even more money than they already do. Perhaps they can help boxing as both love the sport, or even bring a pro baseball or NBA team to Las Vegas. Maybe it’s music or a talent agency like the one that just bought the UFC.
One of my first guesses would be them jumping on board full-throttle into lobbying for interstate sports wagering, being ready to flip the switch and take bets as soon as approved. There’s billions of dollars wagering illegally. No one in the U.S. sees a dime of it.
The national marketing campaign of a venture like this would take millions of start-up money to get word out, from Hoboken to Santa Monica, where to bet safely and legally throughout the country. The Ferttita’s have that type of pull and foresight to make it just as big as they made their casinos and the UFC.
GN Games of the Year
On Friday the Golden Nugget sportsbook opened their famed 100 College Football Games of the Year set at a $1,000 limit. Bettors could take their knowledge of what they expect to happen this season and play it against what the GN has posted on their own team ratings. Numbers were posted on the top games from Sept. 10 like TCU -4 at home against Arkansas all the way through Dec. 10 where Navy is -12.5 at Baltimore against Army.
The most intriguing week to break down is Nov. 26 headed by Ohio State -3 at home against Michigan. USC is -5 at home against Notre Dame, Alabama -15 at home against Auburn and Florida State is -11.5 at home against Florida.
If thinking Ohio State is going to be much better than all the pre-season experts are suggesting after the Buckeyes lost 12 players to the NFL draft, then laying a field goal at home Nov. 26 is cheap. Michigan is going to be pumped for this one after being drilled 42-13 last season in the Big House, but it’s not like Ohio State comes in small on the offensive line or has an inexperienced QB. J.T. Barrett returns with no QB controversy and should be considered an early Heisman Trophy candidate (Westgate has him 15/1). Ohio State reloads every year like maybe only Alabama can.
South Point has Michigan and Ohio State both listed at 9.5 regular wins with their meeting likely being the game that makes either bet a winner or loser. The Westgate has Alabama as the 5/1 favorite to win the National Championship followed by Oklahoma, Clemson and Michigan each at 7/1 – Wolverines opened at 15/1. Ohio State has been lowered from 10/1 down to 8/1.
NL Cy Young odds
Clayton Kershaw has all the metrics to win his fourth NL Cy Young Award and it’s the reason why he’s still listed by the Westgate as the 2/1 favorite to win, but he’s coming off the 15-day DL (mild disc herniation) and who knows how his lower back will feel when he does come back. If he continues to be his regular self (11-2, 1.79 ERA), then there’s no race. But what if he doesn’t?
The Cubs’ Jake Arrieta (9/4), the other favorite, has slowed his campaign to win back-to-back years after giving up 15 runs in his last three starts – the last two losses. Both could come back strong, but there may be value on a couple pitchers that could roll in the second half.
The first candidate is San Francisco’s Johnny Cueto at 11/2. All he’s done is go 13-1 with a 2.47 ERA on baseball’s best team that has won 16 of his 18 starts. The other candidate is Miami’s Jose Fernandez who opened at 30/1 and is down to 8/1 to win his first Cy Young. He’s 11-4 with a 2.52 ERA and figures to have some great moments down the stretch as Miami tries to make it as a wild card.