Tout ads look more like subtractions

Oct 17, 2001 2:28 AM

Pick up a Friday or Monday USA Today, or just about any football magazine and you’re sure to be bombarded with tout ads.

Some of the boasts scream out “Sure winner,” “10,000 star lock,” and “We bring Las Vegas bookmakers to their knees.”

You’d have to be an utter moron to believe such nonsense.

“I’m waiting for the George Foreman grill to pop up, or buy 100 knives for $179,” said Jonathan Jester, former race and sports book director at the Las Vegas Club, in response to such ads. “I’ve got five guaranteed winners, and if you buy now you’re going to get 100 steak knives.”

Many of these less-than-reputable touts claim to have destroyed Vegas bookmakers. But how many touts have actually been responsible for moving the betting line in Las Vegas through the years?

I’ve been covering sports gaming in Las Vegas since the mid 1980s, and I’ve only heard it done at major sports books by Doc’s Sports Service, when they were hot about seven years ago with their Big Ten Conference Game of the Year, and on a much smaller scale by Phil Steele and Jim Feist when they’ve released their Games of the Year.

Don’t just take my word for it. Here are what various Las Vegas sports book directors had to say when asked if a tout had ever influenced line movement with his selection.

“I’ve seen it twice in 20 years ”” Doc’s and Feist,” said D. Wayne Mauldin, race and sports book director at the Castaways.

Bert Osborne, head of sports for Coast Resort properties, said he’d only seen it happen with Doc’s when they had a run going on their Big Ten Game of the Year during the early-to-mid ’90s.

“I wish I could book these touts,” Osborne said. “I’d put up $10,000 of my own money. I want these guys to bet me.”

Jerry Subject, sports book director at El Cortez, remembers SCORE had a brief run more than 20 years ago before faltering on their so-called Lock of the Year. He doesn’t recall any tout having significant impact.

“If they were right all the time, we’d be in trouble,” he said.

Last I looked, sports books in Vegas still were standing and in business. I’ve always thought if you were good, you didn’t need to brag about it.

While marketing plays an important part in any business, including selling football picks, there is no excuse for false advertising and blatant lies.

“Most of us don’t even know who the touts are,” said Vic Salerno, head of the Leroy’s chain of sports books. “They’re claiming they’re bringing us to our knees and we don’t even know who they are, and could care less.”

Bookmakers are appalled and sickened by such ludicrous and patently false tout ads that claim things such as 80 percent winners and million dollar profits.

“If these guys are picking so many winners and going so good,” said Aladdin race and sports book director David Sanchilli, “why would they want to sell their picks? Why wouldn’t they be at the counter making one hell of a living?

“I feel bad for the customer. They’re paying a lot of extra money for games they could come up with themselves.”

There are, of course, respectable touts. They put in the work, have good opinions and aren’t in business to rip people off. Unfortunately for them, there are still naïve and uninformed bettors who don’t understand how hard it is to hit 58-60 percent winners picking games against the spread.

“I have a very bad taste in my mouth for the tout service,” said Joe Lupo, race and sports book director at the Stardust. “There are some very reputable people. So not to discount the entire community, but I’ll go to a different city and open up a newspaper and it will strike me as odd to see ads with some guy’s picture guaranteeing a game tonight.

“To me it’s a travesty that something like that is allowed.”

Quacks can’t get away with advertising fake medicine.

“It’s the biggest rip-off I’ve ever seen,” Mauldin said. “They make it out like they have inside info. It makes us look bad.”