Art Manteris

Vice President of Race and Sports Operations, Station Casinos—33 years as a Las Vegas bookmaker


Photo by Anthony Mair

When you’ve been in the business for so long … it’s easy to let your own personal opinion dictate your logic. You have to be conscious of that. You have to remind yourself not to let your personal feelings get the best of you. A good oddsmaker must be confident but not have a big ego. There are a lot of broke and unemployed oddsmakers with big egos.

I’ve long believed that sports betting … is good for the game. Whether or not the leagues recognize or acknowledge that, it doesn’t change the reality, which is that there’s a valuable function performed by the regulated sports-gambling industry.

Football has been so widely televised for the last 10 to 20 years … that most people feel that they have a pretty fair understanding of the game and a fair ability to predict the outcome. Some are right, some are wrong. Some are good at it naturally; some become good at it by hard work and studying; and others are just not good at it, period—their emotions get the best of them.

When the Colts played the Bears in the Super Bowl a few years back … we had a big decision on the first player to score. A lot of money was on Bears kick returner Devin Hester—one of our big customers had made a big bet on Hester to score first, and Hester returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. So about 9½ seconds into the game, I was down $100,000. Thankfully, the day got better from there.

I’ve been living for six months now … with the Patriots dropping four passes in the last two minutes of last year’s Super Bowl against the Giants. Make no bones about it: I needed the Patriots to win that game, and I didn’t see those guys dropping passes in clutch situations the whole year. But in the last two minutes of the Super Bowl, they dropped four. I still am not over it. But when this season starts on Sept. 5, I’ll get over it.

The Atlanta Falcons … are my Super Bowl long shot this year. The Packers are going to be the Packers; they’re going to be really hard to beat. The Giants are going to be tough to beat. But those are pretty short-priced teams. The Falcons are better than all the next-tier NFC teams, which gets you deep into the playoffs, which is what you want if you’re going to take a team that’s 20- or 30-to-1. From there, you can either scalp your bet or get lucky.