Offshore Gaming Is Accelerating As New Growth Comes From an Overlooked
Wagering on sports has always been a perilous undertaking,
for both those who are laying the action or taking it. But so strong
is the inclination of U.S. bettors to back opinions with money, whether
it be Joe Sixpack or Willie Wise Guy, that the sheer preponderance of
players guarantees a sizeable pool for bookmakers to service.
About 10 years ago, offshore sportsbooks began appearing in numbers large
enough to suggest the start of an industry. During the intervening years,
the happy confluence of the Internet, technology and the indomitable
will of sports bettors exercising their freedom to be in action has seen
offshore sports gaming flourish. Offshore has established itself in the
U.S. against odds so long, it would have been considered an "out"
Despite the worst efforts and dirtiest tactics of anti-gaming zealots,
including religious extremists, organized sports and other assorted groups
whose beliefs encompass an Orwellian doomsday scenario, the good guys
Now, based on latest developments in Costa Rica, or Bookmaking Central
as it is known, there is evidence that the industry is veering in a different
direction. Instead of a continuance of the trend in which shops move
to an hospitable offshore environment and launch post-up operations,
stateside bookmakers are relocating the operational part of their credit
businesses but maintaining local control of customers and handling payouts
and collections in a traditional fashion.
We've learned that Call Center Solutions (www.bookoffshore.com),
arguably the largest company offering turnkey solutions to operators
in the U.S. and offshore since 1997, "is experiencing an explosion
in new business," according to marketing director, Max.
Given how the sports betting business has expanded and become so competitive,
starting a full service shop, or even just an Internet book is prohibitively
expensive, said Max.
CCS services post up or credit players for about $30 per head per week,
Max noted, adding that CCS currently handles clients varying in size
from 10 players to 2,000 players, at more than 40 offices. Business comes
primarily from three different areas:
* Books writing business in the states, which are expanding or looking
to get away from heat generated by law enforcement. These shops typically
handle 50-250 players per week.
* Books currently operating offshore who wish to reduce their operational
costs and overhead. These costs fluctuate wildly among the different
bet shops based on the business acumen of management. Despite the best
intentions, many books do not have the inhouse expertise to monitor and
control the cost factors that impact the business. (Max cited a client
from another jurisdiction which saw its monthly "nut" go
from $250K to $80K after signing up with CCS. He conceded that was an
extreme example, but invariably, we wind up putting enough money
back into our customers pockets so that the difference is very
* Individuals already offshore who can bankroll their own business with
the house taking 50 percent. With no compromise in bookmaking or customer
service, a per head arrangement, whether from CCS or another servicing
company, is far more cost effective, Max stated.
He observed that starting a business from scratch without an existing
base of customers, is difficult but not impossible. Most new players,
including major corporations looking at the business for its promising
growth rate, dont really understand the costs involved in obtaining
user friendly software, telephone equipment, and knowledgeable, experienced
Max stated that CCS could set up a fully functional office within a couple
of hours. "Were not consultants, were hands on bookmakers,
with the experience and expertise to get a shop up and running. It will
be fully operational, at the lowest possible cost, he promised.
"Our clients get free bandwidth, compared with a standard monthly
cost of $10K-$20K. Software licensing fees are eliminated, as clients
only for each station. Additionally, CCS phone costs are drastically
lower because we own our own earth stations" explained Max. "There
are many other benefits, including absolute confidentiality," he
Of course, this is not a brand new concept, although the execution by
CCS is very sophisticated. We first heard of it years ago from a medium-sized
offshore bookmaker who was servicing some friends from New Jersey and
New York. However, his shop eventually failed and so he never developed
Max admitted there are others trying to fill the growing need for offshore
service to stateside bookmakers. Not to disparage our competition,"
he smiled, "but some of them put prospects who call on hold for
long periods, or transfer them to someone who is less than helpful. We
out years ago by taking care of some associates back in the states, and
used it to subsidize our costs. But once we realized the potential of
this business, we now treat it just as seriously as our own bookmaking
operation. It is, in fact, a totally separate entity."
Currently CCS is looking at other jurisdictions into which to expand.
We wondered if any of the industry's existing, well established
medium-sized books might be customers in the near future, and if so,
would the fact be publicized.
Max said there were ongoing conversations between CCS and many books,
and one day, it just might announce it had signed up a shop that everyone
has heard of. If we do, rest assured we would publicize it and
make full disclosure. There would be no attempt to fool the betting public
about the books new circumstances. Hell, any book that joins with
us has got terrific bragging rights," he stated.
Sportsbook Scene bets with one of the books CCS services. There have
been no appreciable problems. The only thing that comes to mind was once
a winning prop bet was graded as a loser. But a polite email asking them
to check the play saw the issue quickly and amicably resolved.
All of this activity points to a resurgence of local books in the U.S.
It is most unlikely that CCS will continue to operate without serious
competition. We would expect other large books with strong technology
to recognize the opportunity and go after business in the near future.
This new service augurs well for stateside players who insist on eschewing
offshore books and staying with their local stores. Of course, they will
be playing offshore and perhaps not realizing it. It also will be a boon
for enterprising BMs who seek an opportunity to take their business to
the next level.
It is encouraging to watch an industry like offshore gaming, which is
under siege from a myopic, agenda-driven government, shrug off the fascist-like
tactics which are designed to Big Brother it into submission. It just
galls some of our politicos that sports betting cannot be killed.
"Where there is a will, there is a way," the old chestnut
goes. Bettors and bookmakers are living testament to it.
For those businesses interested in getting more info about availing themselves
of offshore servicing, check out Call Center Solutions or call Max at
Vegas Insider Sold to British Info Firm
About four months after it announced
it would sell off its sports gaming information subsidiary VegasInsider.com,
CBS SportsLine.com announced that the Fort Lauderdale-based company has
been sold to Sports Information Ltd., a United Kingdom company.
Terms were not announced, but the new owner said it intends to leave
the company's offices, existing management and key staffers pretty
much intact. VI's expertise will be used as SI Ltd. seeks to expand
its global sports coverage into European and Asian sports.
CBS spokesman Larry Wahl told us that the primary motivation to sell
off VI was not a lack of performance by the company, but rather the decision
to better focus on its core business. That business includes affiliations
with various professional and amateur sports organizations which had
concerns about the gaming aspects of VI. Those concerns could have hampered
or compromised SportsLine's position as an Internet sports content
provider and publisher of various official websites, including the NFL,
PGA Tour, and NCAA Sports.
Just as we were ready to distribute SBS, we heard from VI vice president
and general manager Peter Gold, who clarified the deal and helped put
it in perspective.
While acknowledging that being affiliated with SportsLine offered many
benefits and afforded VI a comfortable operating platform, he noted that
there were differences in objectives between the parent and its subsidiary.
These were nothing out of the ordinary, but skewing day-to-day business
toward the overall good of the parent seemingly at the expense of VI
was sometimes frustrating, said Gold.
He is looking forward to a productive relationship with SI Ltd., which
is expected to be a supportive parent. "It is most encouraging
that the new owner wants to build on our strengths, and has kept our
close-knit company relatively intact," Gold observed. They'll
not be looking over his shoulder or micromanaging, and the VI general
manager is pretty pumped to get a whole range of ventures underway which
previously were either on hold or deemed not feasible.
Due to budgetary constraints, two long-time employees were let go. Managing
editor Barry Daniels and marketing coordinator Mark Franco were victims
of a numbers game in which expenses had to be reduced.
Gold stressed that both had been strong contributors during their tenure
with VI, and that he was giving each of them a stellar recommendation
as they looked for new positions within the industry.
According to a source familiar with CBS's financial picture, VI
was not only highly profitable, but the only SportsLine.com subsidiary
to earn a positive return on investment.
Under the new regime and with Peter Gold's aggressive and dynamic
leadership, we expect to see VI re-emerge as a much more visible entity.
Joe Saumarez Smith, CEO of the acquiring company, noted that he had "enjoyed
a partnership with VegasInsider.com since its original launch in 1997."
VI's executive offices are in Florida, while many of its handicappers
are based in Las Vegas. Under its new owner, it will continue to provide
gaming info designed to help its consumer audience prevail in doing business
with "legal and licensed sportsbooks."
We presume such info could also be used by clever clients to try to win
from illegal bookmakers and unlicensed sportsbooks.
Brush Up Your Shakespeare. Sorry, thats just one of our favorite
numbers from the musical comedy Kiss Me Kate. What we meant to say is
brush up your 'capping skills.
With gridiron action looming in our not-too-distant future, there are
lots of players who need refresher courses in some, if not many, phases
of going head-to-head with their man in the world of 11-10. And from
all the bettors we have heard say if they had their druthers, they'd
druther be getting down on football instead of baseball, this looks like
it could be a monster season.
Two football handicapping seminars are scheduled for Las Vegas in August,
and while both have a common objective, they are dissimilar enough to
offer legitimate variances.
On August 16, Football Handicapping University will be held at Sam's
Town, with Lem Banker, the dean of sports betting, presiding over the
event. In addition to tips and insight from a guy who claims to live
entirely off his sports betting profits, other prominent professional
handicappers will impart their wisdom to players seeking an edge against
Andy Iskoe will explain how to apply and interpret information that is
readily available; Arne Lang, recognized for his expertise in college
football will offer a preview of the coming NCAA season with insight
into up and coming teams as well as those over-rated money burners;
Tim Trushel, who has garnered a strong following for his service from
his morning show on Sports Radio here in Vegas will show bettors how
to bet the games in the trenches; Jay Martin, whose Sports Information
Network service is sponsoring the day-long affair, will cover Gambling
101 and illustrate how he handicaps the games.
Norm Kelley, sportsbook manager at Sams Town will help players
improve their wagering skills by revealing mistakes the public makes
In addition to individual presentations, a panel discussion on football
betting will be held, with a Q&A segment from the audience. Noted
journalist Stephen Nover will moderate the panel.
We will make a cameo appearance at the beginning of the event.
Jay Martin said the "University" and its prestigious faculty
will provide an in-depth education for attendees, and includes time for
one-on-one meetings between teachers and students.
For more information or to reserve seats, call Jay Martin at 1-888-797-0300,
or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On August 22-24, the Sports Betting Festival will be held at Ballys.
Key note presentations will be made by high profile handicappers including
Jimmy Vaccaro, Marc Lawrence, The Prez and Larry Ness. Rob Gillespie
from BoDog ((www.bodog.com) will also be a featured speaker.
Free workshop sessions with eminent analysts such as Marc "The
Cincinnati Kid" Lawrence Jr., Johnny Detroit, Dr. Edwin Meyer,
Marcus Langdon, Marco D'Angelo, Greg Daraban Randall Busack, Alex
Smart, Pacific Star and others will be held. Topics will include:
* Handicapping tips
* Trends & statistics
* Money Management Strategies
* Line shopping
* Everything you need to win this season.
We will make an appearance at this event at a workshop session.
Opening night will feature a cocktail reception with lots of giveaways.
Saturday's schedule includes the workshop and seminars. That evening,
a Guys Night Out party will be held at Jaguar's Gentlemen's
Club, where there will be a buffet and an open bar.
The three-day gala is sponsored by Who2beton.com, DonBest.com, FreePicksByEmail.com
For full details and pricing info, go to www.sportsbettingfestival.com.
Rated players are asked to call 1-866-888-2388; their accommodations
Since we are participating in both affairs, we are obligated to suggest
that football bettors who are looking to put up a better fight in the
never ending struggle between players and bookmakers should consider
attending one of them. If we were not convinced that both events are
truly dedicated to giving bettors a leg up against the books, we would
not be involved.
It is worth noting that we do not have a financial interest in either
event, and do not share in any of the proceeds.
Players wishing to stock up on their handicapping arsenal this year are
advised that Howard Schwartz of the Gamblers Book Store will be at both
seminars, accompanied by a representative inventory of the stores
football betting publications.
In recent years, Las Vegas has made strides in
evolving from a meat and potatoes outpost to a metropolitan city with
and sophisticated restaurateurs servicing diversified cosmopolitan tastes.
Truth be told, some of those fancy joints didnt make it, while
others serve over priced food, and still others have such snobby service,
you know their days are numbered.
So we were delighted to get an invitation recently to the media preview
of China Spice and Sushi+Sake at Green Valley Ranch. Not only are we
devoted aficionados of Asian cuisine, but Station Casinos is especially
adept at providing patrons with a variety of top quality eateries at
So, as we hied ourselves over to the company's most upscale property,
visions of Japanese and Chinese delicacies danced through our head. Our
imagination did not do justice to the food or the strikingly contrasting
designs of the two new restaurants.
Sushi+Sake is notable for its ultra contemporary and upscale casual ambiance,
while China Spice features a modern, casual dining atmosphere. Both are
distinctive for their authentic menus which offer multi-regional dishes
at moderate prices. China Spice also offers a wide variety of American
Since we have an almost unlimited capacity for sushi, we first ventured
into Sushi+Sake, where we were seated at a comfortable lounge table,
This area surrounds a modern and attractive sushi counter which was already
jammed with hungry press people.
As Japanese servers in native garb attended us with a continuous medley
of attractive sushi offerings, our jaws never missed a beat. Spicy tuna,
yellowtail, unagi, salmon, tuna, red snapper and more were presented
along with California rolls, tempura rolls and assorted special rolls
including Kwans duck egg rolls
all disappeared with the
flick of our chop sticks. The impeccable array of food was accompanied
by various infused sake potions, whose names we cannot remember. But
we did consume quite a few Geisha Girls, a particularly kicky drink made
from sake, Parrot Bay coconut rum, bananas and strawberries.
As our tank edged closer to full, we shifted over to China Spice to check
out the imaginative and tasty dishes that were in evidence. This facility
is well designed so that patrons have plenty of elbow room and conversations
can remain private.
You might not think of Pu-Pu platter as an especially imaginative dish,
but the version served here is delectable. We had just enough room left
to sample scrumptious pot stickers filled with pork and veggies, and
our all-time favorite Chinese dish, chow fun. The wide rice noodles were
enrobed in a savory meat sauce which was loaded with tender pieces of
high quality beef. This is a good as it gets.
With our appetite sated, we headed to the casinos comfortable
sportsbook to check scores of bets we had made earlier in the day. But
it was impossible not to salivate over the honey glazed walnut prawns
and Chinese spareribs on a table we passed enroute to the book.
The restaurants open officially Monday, June 23. We can't wait to go
Please send comments, questions, etc. to email@example.com.
08/22/02 | 10/16/02 | 01/27/03 | 02/03/03