Life In a Northern Town…

“I want to take a bet…” says Bob S. in this follow-up interview with Wagerstreet.com. From reflections on the NFL season, to the philosophy of bookmaking, to life in Montreal: Its all here.

I invited any bookmaker or offshore sports book proprietor that would submit to an interview based on our format to send me an email and we would arrange it.

There is a void of quality, unbiased information about sports books on the Internet. Most of the information is clearly agenda oriented – designed to promote the sports book. These articles fall short in education the reader and getting to the heart of the issues and questions facing sports book customers and the sports book owners and managers.

Many bookmakers and sports book owners visit our site daily, yet only one other bookmaker volunteered for an interviewed based on this format (that interview to be posted shortly).

Beggars, they tell me, can’t be choosers, so we decided to go back and ask some more candid, straightforward questions to Bob Sugar.

Wagerstreet.com is a paid advertiser at The Daily Spread, but we go out of our way to ask tough questions instead of relaying some public relations piece designed to promote the sports book.

If you are a bookmaker or sports book owner and would like to be interviewed, please email me atheath

TDS: ‘Bob Sugar’. What kind of phony name is that? Why don’t you use your real name?

wagerstreet

Given the attitude of the United States Government towards online gambling, we’d be foolish to use our real names.

The most important thing about out sportsbook is that we are located in North America on the Mohawk Territory right outside Montreal, Quebec.  We are regulated by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission and we PAY.

Until your government rids itself of the double standards and hypocrisy concerning gambling, don’t expect anyone in the offshore industry to be giving you their life story.

TDS: I’ve heard from several bookmakers that this has been the worse football season in 20 years. Being a skeptic, I think it’s all a bunch of subterfuge – the typical propaganda put forth by bookmakers to their players and anyone else willing to listen. The typical bookmaker seems more than willing to lie about how much money they make. This is true with illegal bookmakers and offshore bookmakers. Are you winning?

Wagerstreet.com:
We are winning, but it’s been a disappointing season to say the least.  On straight wagers in the NFL, we will finish the year with a negative hold.  This is practically unheard of in the industry, but others tell me they are in a similar situation. We are hovering right around break even in the NBA.

I don’t know if this should be attributed to the general incompetence of the lines maker, or if it’s just an anomaly. There was a stretch of 7 or 8 TV games in a row (Sunday Night, Monday Night, Thursday Night, etc.) where the favorite and the over got the money.  This is generally bad news for a bookmaker.  There were also many TV games where all teasers would win – no matter who you played, the favorite, the dog, the over or the under – they all won.

TDS: Many people are predicting a big ‘shakedown’ in the offshore business after football season. These self-proclaimed fortune-tellers cite extremely high bonuses given to players, a credit card processing scandal and the aforementioned so-called losing football season.

Is a customer’s money safe at wagerstreet.com? Are you going broke? Are you in it for the short term or long term? What does the future hold for wagerstreet.com?

Wagerstreet.com:
A person’s money is extremely safe at wagerstreet.com.  Here’s why:

The traditional wisdom concerning the NFL from a bookmaker’s point of view has been “No one beats the NFL – it’s a license to steal”.  Subsequently, the bookmaker will take huge bets from the customer.

This attitude is a recipe for disaster.  The end result seemed to be a bunch of bookmakers were “booking over their head” and basically taking huge bets when the size of their bankroll dictated otherwise.  Whether it was greed, ignorance or ego I can’t really say.  The “smart money” did very well early in the season.  The line was as weak as I’ve ever seen it.  The cost of doing business continues to go up.  The market is saturated, and the cost of acquiring a customer is astronomical.

I don’t believe there is going to be any great crash.   Probably lots of slow pays from some of these books, but no more disappearing acts than one would normally see this time of year.

At Wagerstreet.com, we’ve never booked over our heads.  Some people have complained about our limits.  The truth is, I’d love to take more.  We’ll take $1,500 on an NBA side, $500 on a total. We’ll take anywhere from $3500 to $5000 on an NFL game and one can ALWAYS submit larger wagers to our approval que.  As our business and customer base continue to grow, we hope to increase our regular limits.

TDS: There has been yet another credit card processing fiasco in the offshore business, this time with a company called E-Payment Solutions.

I noticed you take MasterCard and Visa online. Does E-Payment have any of your money and if so, are you exposed at all financially because of their seemingly inability to pay the sports books monies they are owed?

Wagerstreet.com:
We were very fortunate and only lost a very small amount. I am told this company has absconded millions from others. 

TDS: In our first interview, you talked about some of the benefits of being licensed and located in North America, just 30 minutes north of the United States border, in the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory. You mentioned the incredible bandwidth, and technological benefits.

Now, tell us some of the drawbacks.

For instance, it seems to me that with so few other sports books in Kahnawake, that you are somewhat outside the loop of the industry. Is this true? Please elaborate.

Wagerstreet.com:
Its cold here.  I don’t speak French.  However, given the technological superiority of our Internet provider, combined with our ability to have customers paid very quickly (usually less than 24 hours via FedEx) I would say the benefits far outweigh any drawbacks.  Everyone on the reservation that is connected with online gambling seems to keep to himself or herself.  You don’t have a clan of bookmakers going out to dinner together to “talk shop” like you do in other countries. 

TDS: I’ve seen ads where other sports books invite players to come and see their operation in Costa Rica (like I’m sure anyone is going to take up their offer to visit a third world country to ‘visit’ a sports book)

If a player were concerned about posting up with you, would you allow them to visit you on the reservation?

Wagerstreet.com:
If they called ahead, then it probably would be okay.  We’ve already had several visitors from the online gambling world come up here and take a look. 

To be honest, there isn’t much to see.  Our offices aren’t anything special.  The room that houses the servers is by far the most impressive part of the operation up here.  The nightlife in Montreal isn’t bad, but why anyone would want to visit is really beyond me, but he or she are welcome to check us out.

TDS: You are located just a few miles outside Montreal. We hear stories about how great the nightlife is in Costa Rica – what’s it like in Montreal?

Wagerstreet.com:
Montreal is truly a great, multi-cultural city.  There are numerous restaurants, bars, shopping complexes, etc.  I don’t spend much time engaged in the nightlife here, but it seems to offer quite a bit.

TDS: What’s life like on the reserve?

Wagerstreet.com:
Slow, uneventful and peaceful.

TDS: In our first interview, you stated:

“First off we only deal one line to all our customers, the same goes for our limits, our live lines are on our site for the public to see, as are our limits. We will not discriminate between sharps and squares, you will not ever here of us refusing to pay anyone, we are adhere to the motto of old school bookmakers: we book, we pay.”

Is this still true?

Wagerstreet.com:
This is all true except the part about differing limits.  We’ve never told anyone to play elsewhere, but we’ve had the occasion to lower the limits of some customers.  We wish we didn’t have to do this, and it’s generally something we agonize over before its done. We’ve only had to do it 3 times to my knowledge, and in each instance it was for a different reason.  We want to write as much as action as we possibly can, and one can always attempt to bet more online with our approval que.  Depending on our position on the game, most of the time we will accept the wager.

However, as a new book with an extremely fast growing user base, we want to make sure we do everything right.  Part of  “doing everything right” means controlling our risk.  We’ll never, ever book a wager we can’t pay, but there is something inherently NOT FUN about having (for example) $13,000 on one side of an NBA game, and only $230 on the other.

TDS: Do you move on air (the term moving on ‘air’ means moving a line without taking a bet, or blindly following another sports books line just because they are a bigger and more respected book)?

Wagerstreet.com:
Generally speaking, we try to move on ACTION as much as possible.  This isn’t always possibly, but we believe moving on air is a defensive position that doesn’t lend itself to generating the greatest profit.  There are many times when the line may jump from 5 to 6.5 on an NCAA game in a matter of seconds.  I’ll leave it at -5, with full knowledge that no one and I mean no one is going to take +5.  Sooner or later someone will bet it for the limit at -5, and I’ll go to -6 on the game.

I want to take a bet.  If I move from -5 to  -6 or -6.5 without taking a bet, then I’m booking defensively.  I’m booking scared and I’ve never seen anyone make it gambling that was scared of money.  If I’ve got an overnight NBA total at 180, and in the morning all the other books are using 183.5, then of course I don’t plan on leaving that 180 up there.  Sometimes I’ll move it to 182.  I still want to take a bet, and I know I’ll get an over bet at 182.

This goes back to one reason a lot of bookmakers are supposedly in trouble right now. Most of the books follow the top 3 or 4 offshore bookmakers when setting their line. Now, no one made what they should have made in the NFL this year.  However, the top 3 or 4 shops move their lines based on action. Using the previous example, they move the line from -5 to -6.5 in the NCAA Hoops by getting bet at -5, -5.5 and -6.  These other books will go from -5 to -6.5 without any action (i.e. moving on “air”).

Now, assuming that what happened in the NFL was just an anomaly and that bookmakers will start winning what they should again, then the book that moves on “air” is once again going to get clobbered.  The book moving on action – the book that took a bet at -5, -5.5 and -6 is going to make money at each of those numbers.  The guy that moved on air never takes a bet at -5 or -6.  How is he going to make money?  He’s going to write less and win less.  Why does he do this? The sharp players won’t lay 6.5. Subsequently, the favorite wins in overtime by 2.  The books moving on action start to win some of that scratch they lost in the NFL back.   The book moving on air is shaking his head, bitching about how unlucky he is.

Shop A doesn’t know what kind of bets Shop B is getting.  Therefore, why let Shop A dictate the line at Shop B? Why does Shop B do this?

TDS: How sharp are the ‘sharps’ or ‘wiseguys’? Do you fear them as a bookmaker?

Wagerstreet.com:
We respect money.  We also book to “faces” which means there are opinions of people that we respect.  It could be a $300 bettor or it could be a 3-dime bettor – it just depends.

TDS: Where do you get your lines?

Wagerstreet.com:
We use the Don Premium service, as well as use the opinions of in-house odds-makers for some events.

TDS: Concerning the ‘sharpness’ of their lines, what book on the Don Best screen do you respect the most?

Wagerstreet.com:
I’ve got better things to do than keep a running tally of who does what and when they do it.  We take a look at the consensus lines of the same 3 or 4 shops everyone else does.

TDS: I know you offer overnight lines in the NBA . What other different wagering opportunities do you try to offer the bettor?

Wagerstreet.com:
First half lines in all sports, second half NBA lines, money lines and quarter wagering in the NBA, a wide variety of cross sport teasers, etc.  We are ALWAYS adding and working on new things, and if there is something you want that we don’t have posted, just ask! We’ll be happy to try and offer it.

TDS: I hate calling a sports book and getting a clerk that speaks broken or bad English. Do your clerks and employees speak as a first language?

Wagerstreet.com:
Everyone here are native speakers of the English Language.  I don’t see that changing now or in the future.

TDS: In part one of this interview, your position was that someone should play with you because you offer:

  • A fast Internet site
  • Located in North America, so your payouts are quick
  • Licensed and Regulated in North American
  • In Progress Wagering
  • Good Customer Service

Did I miss anything? Why else should a player open an account with your operation?

Wagerstreet
One of the most important reasons I can think of is the travesty committed against Native Indians in Canada and North America.  An important part of our decision to be here was that the money was going to support commerce and trade to a culture that desperately needs it and deserves it.  The Mohawks are a proud, fiercely loyal and dedicated people.  We are happy to help support business here, as opposed to to lining the pockets of a corrupt government in a third world country.

TDS: Thanks once again for your time and candor. Please remind everyone again of your phone numbers, current promotions, and how they may otherwise find you.

We are currently offering a 10% sign-up bonus on all new accounts, plus an extra 5% on all bank wires. If you are already a member, we have a refer a friend bonus that pays you 5% of your friend’s first deposit. We also accept NETeller, and Visa and MasterCard.

From Now until the Superbowl, all deposits (except via Credit Card) get an additional 5% bonus.
thedailyspread.com | January 23rd, 2001

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