Sports Book Scene May 24th 2000

Looking to the future? Then check out the past

Conventional wisdom has pretty much decreed that the future of off shore sports betting is inexorably tied to the Internet, while prospects for growth in wagers taken over the telephone are about as promising as those of any A.L. pitcher matching up with Pedro Martinez.

To illustrate more bluntly:  Online sports wagering is considered sexy as Linda Fiorentino in fishnet hose, whereas betting over the phone equates more closely to the enchantment factor of say, Janet Reno.

But, is conventional wisdom always a reliable barometer?  Hardly.

Recently we asked NASA Sports International president Greg Champion ( what technological goodies the company had in store for its sports book players in the coming football season.  We expected some dazzling, new state-of-the-art Internet service.

Instead, he said, “One of the more exciting advances we will introduce is our automated touchtone phone system.”  It will offer a third option for customers, who now can bet online or over the phone with a clerk.

With NASA’s automated phone system, bettors can avoid talking to a clerk.  It is very similar to the Tele-Bet system originated by the Mirage in Las Vegas during the mid ‘90s.

“It will be an advantage at crunch time,” advised Champion.  “Everybody calls at a quarter to one on Sunday, and even with all our phone lines, on rare occasions a customer has to wait.  Now we can eliminate that possibility.”

The way it works is very simple, he explained.  Call a toll-free number, listen to a greeting and be walked through the process of getting lines and wagering on whatever events you wish.  Once you’ve got the procedure down, you can skip directly to obtaining lines and betting.

Champion expects the new touchtone system to be a big asset, especially among no-nonsense bettors who just want to find out the line and bet.

It sounds terrific, but it is still a financial gamble for NASA.

If the automated phone system is as successful as he expects, NASA will have served as a guinea pig for its competition, we observed.  “We’ve been a beta tryout for our competitors for a long time,” he asserted.  “When we discover a good marketing idea, others quickly appropriate it.  After we develop new software, others jump on board.

“So we do quite frequently beta test a lot of innovative products and services for the industry.”

Regarding the touchtone system to be used by NASA, we’ve seen a demonstration and it has appeal from both the player’s and the book’s perspective.  Nonetheless, the marketplace will determine whether it’s a winner with off shore bettors.

Off Shore Glitch.  Many major sports books in Costa Rica experienced down time on their online and phone systems from midday Saturday through Sunday morning.

According to Caribi marketing director Don Stark (, a major telephone carrier experienced server problems, which affected the off shore books’ ability to service customers.

“It took all night to fix,” said Stark, “but eventually service was restored.”  The reason for the size of the disruption was because so many books use the same carrier, he added.

Sports Bettor’s Credo.  Every once in a while, political satire does exactly what it is supposed to – crucify its target.

A paean to the joy of sports betting, which is also a warning to anti-gaming politicians characterized as “nitwits”, is must reading on one of our favorite websites,

Penned by the site’s owner Wild Bill, it scores a direct hit on the hypocrisy emanating from John McCain, Jon Kyl, Bill Bradley and other politicos who are trying to impose their own peculiar brand of morality on everyone else.

The accompanying music adds just the right soupcon of sarcasm, to a piece that radiates an intelligent point of view spoken with wit and style.  Click here to read “Wild Bill’s Rant!@#?” | May 24th, 2000

– – – – – – – – – – – –About the writer
A long time sports betting columnist, Buzz Daly

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