Scams in sportsbooks including some behind the counter

January 12, 2016 3:00 AM


The yearly entertainment awards are close and handicapping winners, without risking any money, is fashionable among their followers.

Some serious horse bettors from the old Stardust needed a winner without risking any of their bankroll. The trouble with their plot was it involved horse bettors and a poker degenerate. They’re already big dogs as you guessed.

It was an inside job hatched in the racebook. The cast of characters involved a supervisor, a writer and an outside man on loan from the poker room. It’s an old scam, but these guys figured they were really, really good.

Before computer-generated tickets, a writer could tear one off his machine around post time, time stamp it on the Simplex clock, and place it back on the machine. Now they have a blank ticket that’s time stamped prior to the race going off. Just write the winner after they cross the finish line and head for the cashier. Only problem is, this cast of characters combined made about a 20 watt bulb. We got word of the scam and filmed it from the eye in the sky. A comedy Hollywood couldn’t come up with. It’s going as planned since they were really, really smart don’t forget.

The outside man, our poker player, comes up to the window and pretends he’s busy making bets. The writer tears off a blank ticket, time stamps it, and places it back on the machine. The supervisor is blocking the view of other supervisors, like a fullback keeping the coast clear. Written in the amount circle is $2,000 and all that remains to pull it off is filling in the winner.

Guess what? The race ends in a dead heat. No winner is announced till the films at the track can be reviewed. They could have simply written in the two horses in the dead heat as an exacta or quinella. But no, these seven watt bulbs are waiting for the track to declare the winner.

The supervisor is still guarding the quarterback, the writer is waiting with pen in nervous hand, and the outside guy is still blocking the window from other customers. Behind him is a little old lady wearing one of those little old lady horse player hats. She’s trying to muscle in front of him to get her bets down on the next race. All this is being filmed don’t forget and they’re laughing like hell up in the eye.

The track finally announces a winner, the phony ticket is completed, the little old lady went to another window and our cast is relaxed and full of themselves, wiseguys even. Our outside guy, the poker player in his day job, cashes the ticket; over $6,000 winners and he’s busted shortly. Gaming Control agents were waiting and busted all three.

The ticket writer was the first to sing. He couldn’t wait. He sang so much we brought in an orchestra to accompany him.

Another attempt at easy money also went South. I don’t label this one a scam because of the harmless guy involved and he didn’t plan it.

A lady listener to our weekend radio show that covered 13 states comes in the racebook and approaches Calvin, a ticket writer who was awake at the time. Calvin had a habit of “resting his eyes” as he put it. He was a big, soft-spoken black kid, a harmless teddy bear.

Calvin is just sitting there and this lady hands him $20,000. She wants to leave it, have him bet it on the steam football games and call her with the teams. She was from San Diego and under the impression we had such arrangements. We had no such thing since that would have been against every law and regulation known to man at the time.

Anyway, Calvin writes her a receipt on some kind of Stardust form he dug up, gets her phone number, and the $20,000 goes into his pocket. Calvin just went from a broke ticket writer, sleeping in the lounge on occasion, to owner of a $20,000 bankroll. All he has to do is wait till the games lose. The money is “used up” and he’s home free. The $20,000 is his.

The hitch in his plan now bites him. He can’t pick losers either. The teams he’s giving the lady are winning. He’s trying to lose as usual and can’t. She “runs it up” and heads for the Stardust to cash out. That’s when I get a call from GM John Minor and casino manager Richard Schuetz to come upstairs, now!

We figure it out and Calvin is in a real jackpot, big time trouble. We had to appease the lady and punish Calvin. It wasn’t bad, he lost his job (and a place to sleep). The $20,000, who knows? My guess is Calvin hedged on the other sides and still lost.

It’s a tough business. Take care.

Scotty Schettler began his Las Vegas journey in 1968. By the time he quit the race and sports book business he had booked over $1.5 billion for different employers. He says he knows where most of the cans are buried. His book,  is available on Contact Scotty at