Vegas wasn't always full of Madness this time of year

Mar 14, 2017 3:00 AM

The NCAA Basketball Championship aka March Madness is not as maddening as it once was for those of us who were behind the scenes years ago, before the cookie cutter lines of today.

Today’s sportsbooks open after their personnel in charge wake from a good night’s sleep, breakfast at a reasonable time and not exerting much energy or input into the information they’re about to put on their odds boards. Fire up their computers, copy the offshore numbers or use a local line service, change a few games a half point and call the line yours. Much less aggravation, frustration and energy involved compared to what we did to open the Stardust sportsbook each and every day.

Then most sportsbooks just used our work instead of the offshores and don’t get me wrong, there was nothing wrong with this as far as I’m concerned. Now jump ahead to today. All those who think any Las Vegas sportsbook today actually makes their own numbers on sides and totals raise your hand. No hands that I can see.

We must have been nuts or else what we did was a labor of love. I’d say both. We started work on the next day’s games as soon as the current games were done and the scores were in. Jim Feist’s National Sports Service did all the work on the schedule, matchups, times etc.

We actually made our own numbers on those games.

We had three oddsmakers on the payroll at the Stardust. Most important to us was Roxy Roxborough and his Las Vegas Sports Consultants. We also employed Jerry “the hat” Taffell, Kenny White and his dad Pete. To complete this sausage making process our supervisors Richard Saber, Sylvestor Vallella and Patty Garrett added their input.

I had my own opinion and was the final say on the numbers we booked, not because I was smarter than anyone else. Far from it, in fact. I only hired decision makers who I considered to be smarter than me. There’s no way in hell I could make a line without other input.

I was the final say simply because I didn’t want my supervisors to move numbers. They didn’t want to look bad if the numbers were off. It would be my fault not theirs so now they were free to move numbers the way they should be moved, i.e. according to our action.

We opened every day at 8 a.m. sharp with a new menu to a SRO crowd. Our line went out around the country and if ever, God forbid, we were late the Stardust switchboard would light up like a Christmas tree. People from all over wondered if the Stardust was on fire or worse. 

Why else would the line be late? Then after we had the day’s games booked and scores in we started on the next day’s menu. Win or lose we had to be ready by 8 a,m.

It was an enormous amount of frustrating work and responsibility. I think it must have taken its toll but I’d do it again in a heartbeat, but only if I had the same people helping me. Thanks Roxy, Jerry, Pete, Kenny, Richard, Syl, Patty, Richard Schuetz and the rest of Stardust management who let me do my job.

Scotty at