Long-time bookie manages the risk

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Even after three years, the
Charles Barkley Super Bowl bet remains a signature event that Nick Bogdanovich
would give anything to erase.

“I understand that people
are interested and that it gave me quite a bit of notoriety,” he said.
“But, I wish the whole thing would just go away.”

Golden Nugget did its part to
ease the pain, hiring Bogdanovich last year to work side-by-side with race and
sports book director Chris Andrews. The two have formed a 1-2 punch second to
none in the betting industry.

“I loved working for Tim
Poster and Tom Breitling here at the Nugget, but now we are sort of in limbo
with the new owners, who have been in the restaurant business,” he said.
“There are a lot of us excited about the prospects for improving our book,
but at the same time we’re concerned about our jobs.”

Since coming to the Nugget,
Bogdanovich has been influential in organizing football’s richest handicapping
contest, which featured a $5,000 entry fee for choosing five games a week and
one best bet.

“We drew over 95 entrants
with only two or three weeks to put it together last year,” he said.
“We were primed for a really great football contest again, but I don’t
see it happening this season due to our uncertain situation.”

Bogdanovich is cautiously
optimistic that the Nugget’s race and sports book staff will remain intact.
And he’s ready to forget the Barkley bet.

“I have rehashed the Barkley
bet two million times, like beating a dead horse,” said Bogdanovich, who
ran the book at Mandalay Bay where Barkley made his infamous $600,000 wager on
New England to beat St. Louis.

“Management thought I
handled the transaction poorly, which I probably did,” he said. “I
just didn’t go through the proper channels and they penalized me. However, I
don’t think it should have led to termination. I just assumed management had
approved the bet.”

Bogdanovich, who accepted Barkley’s
marker without approval from the casino manager, became the fall guy when Sir
Charles won his bet and walked away with $1 million.

“Working at Mandalay Bay was
a great job,” the Las Vegas native said. “I was there to book and
nothing else. I remember we had more meetings during those 16 months than in the
nine years I worked for Jack Binion at the Horseshoe.”

Bogdanovich became involved in
gaming through his love for sports, but had no prior experience in the industry
until gaining a job as a ticket writer at the Sands under Rick Herron.

“At 23, I got a job writing
tickets at the Sands under Rick Herron and went on to the Horseshoe in 1989 as a
supervisor,” he said. “When Tommy George left, I pitched the idea to
Jack to run the book. He said okay and I did so for nine great years.”

It was for Binions that
Bogdanovich, at age 28, built his maverick image as a risk taker.

“I had a lot of freedom,
thanks to Jack,” Bogdanovich said. “He understood about bookmaking. We
didn’t have mega suites and shows, just gambling. Binion’s was a four-window
joint that had the biggest business handle next to The Mirage.”

It was the unlimited size of
bets, coupled with the World Series of Poker, that made Binion’s popular and
Bogdanovich a rising star in the industry.

Bogdanovich admitted that he had
a lot of offers to work offshore, but declined due to his Vegas roots.

“I was born at Sunrise
Hospital and lived my whole life in Las Vegas,” he said. “My wife and
kids love it here. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

When asked if he had any regrets,
Bogdanovich took a moment and reflected one last time on that bet.

“If I had to do it all over
again, I would have called upstairs to get it approved,” he said. “I
didn’t at the time because it was Barkley, a famous celebrity, and he was
already with two casino people.

“Hindsight is 20-20,”
he concluded. “It was just one of those things. A miscommunication that got
botched up.”

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