LVSC chief jumps to ‘house’
side of counter

Dec 9, 2003 8:32 AM

The best line that Las Vegas Sports Consultants (LVSC) can make is that Ken White now runs the operation.

"We here at LVSC are about making all our clients happy," White said on Friday, less than a month after becoming the CEO and one of the principal buyers for the most recognized odds-making organization in the gaming industry.

For more than 20 years, LVSC has been providing odds and point spreads to all major Las Vegas as well as international sports books.

GamingToday last month broke the story revealing the sale of LVSC from CBS Sportsline to an investment group that includes White, Nevada gaming attorney Ellen Whittemore, along with commercial attorney Jeff Patterson and David Whittemore.

For months it was "business as usual" for the world’s largest Âí­independent oddsmaking firm even though the company originated by famed oddsmaker Roxy Roxborough was in a sort of limbo. The company knew it was going to be sold, but had no idea who would step up to the plate or when.

"I’m having a great time here," White said, taking a break from setting his daily NHL and NBA lines. "It could be a comedy sitcom.

The comedy sitcom we’ll leave for Monti Rock III to uncover. Odds are, White and his stable of linesmakers are trying to raise the bar and elevate LVSC to even higher standards.

"It’s hard to say how many places we go to, but we don’t have Coasts Properties and that’s something I would like to pursue," said White. "I plan on talking to them this week. I would like to see if we could help them out."

In addition to trying to bring Coast into the fold, White said he would like to expand and tailor the business around specific sports.

Specifically, White said he would like to designate key personnel to concentrate on handicapping specific sports, such as college basketball, hockey, baseball and football, as well as less-played sports such as tennis, NASCAR and golf.

White has worked in Las Vegas for more than 20 years, and is a former ticket writer and a successful sports handicapper. He is a two-time winner of the prestigious Stardust Football Handicapping Contest, and is still in the running for a third title.

But it’s different this time. Now he’s making numbers for the house and no longer servicing bettors with his selections.

"I really don’t see any difference with what I’m doing (for LVSC) now," he said. "My line is an opinion, worth one bet. My product is just being sold to casinos instead of bettors.

"Quite frankly, I love being on the sports book side of the counter," he said.

LVSC is known for providing the opening line for every major sporting event in the world. The lines change and every sports book can raise or lower the number, but most rely on the LVSC’s expertise and rarely deviates from their opinion.

"It’s our job to make sure sports books in the state of Nevada are extremely positive about the work we do for them," White said. "I do think about threats to our business, but I choose to think positive."

The main concern comes from the nation’s capitol, where some politicians annually produce legislation that, if passed, could bring down the legal sports gaming industry.

"I will do everything I can to lobby for the state of Nevada," White said. "We will continue to serve, make lines and be the best we can possibly be."

In truth, lines-making has never been easier. The Associated Press wire, Don Best injury reports, The Sports Network and the Internet itself has brought the latest information to both the industry and betting public at the touch of a computer keyboard.

"We have everything we basically need," White said. "The accuracy of making lines has never been better. I am glad to just be a part of it."

White did not want to debate the issue of "handicapping accountability," opting instead to discuss producing a way to provide quality information about games.

"I am almost finished with an NFL rating system," White said. "There has never been a program in this business for coming up with that right number. Computers don’t have a feel for how people bet. They may be a starting point, but I think there is a better way to produce a stronger line."

White said that power ratings, such as Sagarin’s ratings in USA Today, don’t have a good foundation over the long haul. And, he’s right.

"By the end of the year, they get close to where they should be," he said. "However, early in the year they could be way off."

There’s no finer example than college basketball, in which odds-makers and bettors don’t have any exhibition games to rely upon.

"No question, college basketball is the toughest sport to rate early," White said. "There are 256 colleges this year. Bettors who pick games will do their own thing and I won’t knock anyone out there."

But in the end, sports books need the best possible lines. Ken White and LVSC are poised to continue to produce them.