Happy sportsbook ticket writers left behind in corporate age

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First, I would like to thank those who sent me the emails about my article last week.

Jeff H. sent one and I will leave out the place he was emailing about but I would like to delve into his email. Jeff said, “I go to (a place). Cocktail waitresses smile, bartenders smile, slot attendants smile.

“Ticket writers look like they would rather be anywhere but work! Say good morning or hi and you get a blank look 75% of the time.”

When I first started coming to Las Vegas before moving here in 1978, everyone was happy, especially the ticket writers at the old Stardust where I hung betting the ponies most of the time when I was visiting.

There is a reason the smiles have gone the way of the dodo bird.

My first job at the Stardust was writing race tickets by hand, no computers, and we were busy all the time. You had to be fast and players loved it when we talked to them and got their tickets written fast and correct. Good writers would build up a client base with the same bettors coming to their windows all the time. If you were a good handicapper you would have a horse or two to give out to your good tippers.

There were days when this ticket writer back in the early 80’s would take home $300 to $500 in tips on a Saturday. That was big money and kept a smile on my face.

Then came corporate casino bosses and the all-knowing “Unhuman” Resources, who knew nothing but made all the bad decisions. The worst one was ordering that all tips would go into a pool and be equally divided among all workers, including those in the back room who didn’t have to deal with all the money and the people.

The smiles gradually went away, the good writers became so-so and the bad ones figured why should they care when getting their unfair share? The happiness was gone.

Why should a great ticket writer who smiles at all his or her customers and takes in great tips give them away? It’s called the PC world of fairness. Ticket writers in race and sportsbooks are grossly underpaid with the exception of some Strip spots where the tips are big even with the spreading out.

Writers start around $10-11 per hour, are expected to handle large sums of cash on a daily basis and balance every day. Those coming up short could be gone. That’s another reason for the long faces.

I had a friend who was in town and had some success betting with a certain ticket writer and before he left asked he wanted to tip him or her a few hundred. I told him the money would not go directly to the person but would be divided among all the writers both in race and sports.

He decided to try and catch the person on their break and shake hands. If the camera catches this the writer will be fired. Not a perfect scene in the ticket writing world in Vegas with the gas prices hitting 3 bucks a gallon.

Talking Halos

It’s early on in baseball but things are a little upside down to say the least. One huge surprise is the Angels’ quick start leading the Astros in the AL West. The “Halos” as of Monday have gone 13-3 and won 7 in a row. The Red Sox come to town on Tuesday so we will see how good they really are.

In the National League the Mets have stormed out of the box with a record of 12-2, while the favored Nationals languish in next to last place with a record of 7-9 and a miserable 3-7 in D.C.

The surprising Pittsburgh Pirates sit in first place in the tough NL Central at 11-4, including 7-2 away, while the favored Cubs are at .500 sitting in third at 7-7.

The NL West is the most surprising division so far with Arizona in first at 11-4 and the Dodgers last at 5-9. Things will change but don’t lay big prices.

On Sunday for example the Astros were listed at -320 vs. the Rangers, who beat them 3-1. Keep an eye on those run lines when you can get +1.5 plus money.

Horse sense

The Kentucky Derby is right around the corner and looks to be very wide open with at least 10 horses having a big shot. There will be several free seminars around the city and we will keep you abreast of them in the ensuing weeks.

Play of the Week: This will be the last for the three-days-a-week races at Santa Anita. We go to Friday’s card in Race 8, a downhill turf sprint. No. 10 Smuggler Union gets a great post. He has Franco Geovanni up for Howard Zucker and has shown a fondness to this course. His one start was a runaway win last year. He looks set off the layoff at a big price.

A $2 bet on the Derby pays the same as one at Golden Gate. You could be walking around lucky, hit boxcars and not even know it.

If you aren’t in you can’t win.

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