Rotation brought order
to sports wagering

Nov 11, 2003 7:35 AM

It’s called a rotation, but it has nothing to do with tires on a car or switching positions in volleyball.

This rotation is a listing of all the sporting events on a given day in a specific order. It is utilized on the betting boards of every Nevada sports book and in every large offshore sports betting establishment.

To a person unfamiliar with sports wagering, the importance of having the games listed in a certain order may be a mystery. But to the millions of sports bettors who have made more than a couple of wagers in their life (both legally and illegally), it is a necessity.

Try getting a betting line read to you on a busy college football or basketball Saturday and see if you can write those numbers down without having them in an order that everyone uses. You probably would have more success eating soup with a fork.

The product we are describing is called the International Rotation, and it is compiled right here in Las Vegas by the folks at Don Best Sports.

But, in a business where it’s unusual to get anyone to agree on much of anything, how is it possible that every sports book at home and abroad is using the same rotation?

Well, it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t always the case. So, a little history may be in order.

The sports schedule isn’t a new product and it hasn’t always emanated from Las Vegas. Jerry Kilgore started the schedule rotation out of a California office in the 70s. He called it the J.K. Sports Schedule and bulk-mailed for a fee to the few Nevada sports books that existed.

Unfortunately, there were periods when the schedules didn’t arrive in Las Vegas in time for that week’s games. There were also problems with the accuracy of some of the starting times, as network and cable television stations starting changing those times to suit their schedule.

That brought up the possibility of the sports books taking bets after a game had already begun (getting past-posted).

That’s when Jim Feist and Gary Austin, two Las Vegas entrepreneurs who were heavily involved in sports betting, entered the scene.

The year was 1981, and the sports service industry was just beginning to grow and flourish. Feist owned National Sports Service and Austin was the proprietor of the Austin Edge. Both sports service companies provided the betting line to customers over the phone, and both made sports selections available at various prices.

Though they were very fierce competitors fighting for the same customer base in a very narrow market, they each saw the need for the sports schedule to be made and distributed in Las Vegas instead of California.

It wasn’t easy getting the sports books to change the rotation and use another product. And if it were two ”˜square’ bettors doing the persuading, it probably would have never taken place. But Austin and Feist were big sports bettors around town, with Sports Illustrated even writing an article concerning the amount of money Austin wagered on football.

When the Stardust, Churchill Downs, Santa Anita, the Del Mar and the Union Plaza made the switch, the rotation gradually changed hands.

The schedule was given away free and the sports books were called on a daily basis with any time changes in every sport on the betting board.

An interview with Gary Pasquale, Director of Schedule Services for Don Best Sports, will highlight next week’s Part 2. We will also delve into how the schedule grew into its current international status and how the rotation is made.