Mike Colbert

Vice President of Race and Sports Risk Management, Cantor Gaming—10 years as a Las Vegas bookmaker

Every day they write the book: Reading between the lines with four Vegas oddsmakers.

In order to be a successful oddsmaker … you first have to know your customer. And every book has its own type of customer. Also, you better be able to make a number. However you do that, it’s unbelievably important. We have computer models that give us a raw number, and then it’s my job to decide if that number is right or wrong.

My first football betting memory … was Super Bowl XXII, when the Washington Redskins beat the Denver Broncos. I think I was 8 or 9 years old, and I bet on the Redskins. It was the first bet that actually meant something to me. I bet whatever money I had. I remember watching the game with my family, and everyone liked Denver; I went with Washington just to go against everyone else. Broncos quarterback John Elway hit a bomb on the first play from scrimmage. Then Denver kicked a field goal to go up 10-0. It looked like Denver was going to run away with it. Then the Redskins scored five straight touchdowns and just destroyed them.

Legalizing betting outside of Nevada … won’t have the negative impact that many people may think. Whether authorities want to admit it or not, people bet everywhere anyway. They’re either playing in Nevada, playing offshore or playing with an illegal bookmaker. Legalization would at least clean up the nonsense and the illegal activity.

The poor economy … hasn’t damaged our business at all. I say it all the time: The sportsbook business is recession-proof.

Two long shots I like to win this year’s Super Bowl … are Atlanta and Buffalo. I believe the Falcons are going to win the NFC South. With all the controversy surrounding the Saints, they’re going to take a step back this year. And the Panthers aren’t ready to win that division yet. As for the Bills, they made great offseason moves, and I really like the direction they’re going. Will they catch New England this year? Maybe not. But they’ll give them a hell of a battle, get into the playoffs and have a chance to make a deep run. Buffalo is a real live sleeper team.