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As I See It

23 April 2002

I had lunch the other day with Vic Salerno at a place called Cili's on the Bali Hi Golf Course in Las Vegas. It's on the south end of the Strip past the airport, and is owned by Billy Walters.

It's been at least two years since I last saw Billy, and had never been on one of his golf courses or at this restaurant. It is pure luxury with excellent food, and a very spacious layout.

How spacious? I believe Tiger Woods could have teed off and the ball would have never left the building.

It was good to see Billy and I asked him if he needed anything. He just smiled. We talked about the sports betting industry in general and he definitely has a position on where it has been and the direction it is headed.

I had gotten together with Vic to run an idea by him on a football contest that would have a little different twist. Part of the idea is to try to get bettors involved who would be willing to come to Vegas on a specific weekend to play.

For openers, it would not be a free contest, and all entry money would be returned to participants. We bounced around some stuff like a king of the hill concept, or something like the Stardust handicapping tournament which is one loss and out. It could be strictly college games or just the NFL.

Now understand, a variation of everything I mentioned has been tried at least once in the past 25 years. But if we limit the number of entrants and make the payoff substantial, it would stand a good chance of attracting a quality crowd of contestants, and get lots of media attention.

I also believe that I could get some of our friends from the offshore industry to pony up some money to make it worthwhile for players to take a shot.

Like I said, there are lots of free contests with the winners carting off $10K to $15K, but these are usually based on no entry fees, and everybody wants in. With so many players, the odds of winning are pretty high against you.

I have always maintained that nothing should be for free, and losers should pay a decent penalty. But if you win, all the front money should be paid out as prizes. No "take out" for any reason.

You may think it is early to start getting the ball rolling, but I need to start making some contacts now if this thing is going to fly.

I am not looking to take out anything from the contest, and with a big time prize structure, I would hope all the sites that use my column would run the weekly results.

I'm open to a book in Vegas or offshore jumping in as a sponsor. I am convinced it would generate lots of interest among bettors and gain a high enough following to make it a productive promotion for all concerned.

We'll see what develops during the next month. Who knows, maybe we can make it interesting enough so that even Billy would like to take a shot.

Stay smart,

Jimmy V.

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