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Station’s not-so-odd job

Sep 25, 2007 6:57 AM

With the football season in full swing, those who set the betting lines find that determining the point spreads is an around-the-clock job.

But for Jason McCormick it’s a labor of love.

As director for race and sports books at Station Casinos, Jason McCormick is one of the brains behind those numbers.

The 32-year-old is one of only a handful of people who set the odds for all major sporting events, and he is one of the youngest people to hold the position.

"I take it in stride, and I’m very career-driven and want to continue to grow in the casino industry," McCormick said in an interview with the Daily SouthTown newspaper in Chicago, near his home town of Oak Forest. "I’m privileged to be in the position that I’m in."

Nevada is the only state where sports gambling is legal, and McCormick estimates there are about 20 people who set the various betting lines.

Toward that end, he regularly logs 70 to 80 hours per week during football season.

"Much to my wife’s chagrin," said McCormick, who has two sons, ages 2 and 7.

He often brings his work home — though not in the way that most people do — watching games and recordings of games after leaving the office.

McCormick’s task recently grew larger when Station Casinos announced it would be the first to capitalize on the popularity of fantasy football by offering a betting line on players’ projected fantasy statistics.

It’s no surprise, he said, he wound up in a sports-related career, considering he grew up in family of sports fanatics.

"As a child, it was church in the morning, and then, get ready for a Bears game," McCormick said.

He also remembers attending White Sox openers with his dad and listening to his relatives and their friends picking drafts for fantasy baseball leagues afterward.

While growing up, he spent as much time on the field as he did in the stands, playing a wide range of sports.

"His mother will remember driving from soccer practice and him changing into his football clothes," said Jason’s father, Lee McCormick.

At Victor J. Andrew High School in Tinley Park, McCormick played football and wrestled on the varsity team for four years.

"The way that I grew up, sports was so much of a part of what I did that putting numbers on sports was like second nature to me," he said.

Apparently McCormick also made a few wagers in his youth

His father likes to tell a story about taking his son to the racetrack to teach him about betting on horses.

"I go up to the window to make these bets, and the person looks over my shoulder and says, ”˜Hi, Jason,’ " his father said.

But those who knew McCormick during his teen years said he had more than just a one-track mind — he was a good student, a go-getter and a natural leader.

"He was always more than just about the sport; he was about everyone else," said Tom Lahey, McCormick’s former wrestling coach. "Winning wasn’t everything; being part of the program was more important. He wasn’t an individual; he was more of a team player."

McCormick’s collegial attitude might explain why he worked his way up the career ladder so quickly after graduating from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and why he remains down-to-Earth about his unique position.

"It’s not something that you can have a power trip about," McCormick said.

"Every day is a new day, and every day hundreds of thousands of dollars can move back and forth. I love it, but it can be very stressful," he said.