About Us| Sponsors| Contact
Follow us:   Sportswagers on Twitter

Picks By League

Beware of Tout Sevices

Jun 7, 2011

Meet Jack Price. He's here to bury your bookmaker. He once promised to blow his brains out if the football predictions he gave out to customers on his gambling-advice phone line were wrong. They were, but he and his brains are still with us. Meet Ron Bash, a.k.a. the Coach. He's here to pound your bookie. His ads say he took his team to the Final Four. Did he mention that the Final Four he took them to was in Division III?

Meet Kevin Duffy. He once bragged in a New York Daily News ad, "I'm coming off a great weekend &;; as usual, all my customers crushed [their] bookmakers." Too bad the ad was delivered to the News's offices before any of the games were played. In a world of cheats, cons, grifters, swindlers, carnival barkers and people you would not want to change your fifty, the brotherhood of so-called sports advisors is a gutter unto itself. Consider the service that told its clients that because of a late change in the weather, they should bet the Kansas City Chiefs that day.

Only problem-as Phil Mushnick pointed out in his New York Post column-was that the Chiefs were playing in Seattle, indoors, Or consider Final Score Sports, a nationally advertised service that once picked the Cleveland Browns to beat the Cincinnati Bengals on a Monday night. Unfortunately, the game was the Denver Broncos at the Buffalo Bills. Then there was the guy whose ad listed his brilliant 10-year record for Monday Night Football. Oddly, he had been in business for only five.

This is an industry in which duplicity is the leading economic indicator.

It is also a business in which profits can be enormous-some services are believed by at least one close observer of the industry to make as much as $1 million annually. Last year the people at the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs looked into the advertising practices of the sports-adviser business and came away with their hair on end. "These have been among the most egregious, outrageous claims we've ever encountered," says a department attorney, Fred Cantor.

The idea of sports advisers seems square enough. For a fee of about $300 a month, you call a guy who's really in the know about sports-particularly football-on his 800 number, and he tells you whom to bet on and how much to wager. Or you ring his 900 line, and for about $10 to $50 per call, he'll give you-most often in a recorded announcement-the one or two games that weekend on which he thinks you can make a score. The average gambler could use a leg up, right?

Not this kind. SI took a two-month test drive through the world of sports-advisory services and found misleading ads, bait-and-switches, repeated claims of fixes coming down, misrepresentation of records, unforgivably high-pressured sales techniques, phone harassment, phone threats, phony guarantees, mail fraud, wire fraud and some perfectly dreadful manners. Even the pictures lied. One man was shown in ads to be both Mountain Man Obie ("the legend who broke the bank at Tijuana [sic]") and Mike Zimbo ("the most feared name in Vegas"). Two years ago the Lombardi Sports Wire, a handicapping service based in Oceanside, NY, sent out different letters to two groups of its customers. One group was urged to take Pitt over Notre Dame in a "blowout," and the other was urged to take Notre Dame over Pitt in a "blow out." Apparently Lombardi felt strongly both ways.

Splitting games 50-50 like that-known in the biz as "double-siding"-is the oldest trick in the handicapper's very thick book. That way he knows he has at least some happy customers coming back. The second-oldest trick is to have one of your services try to sign up customers who haven't been doing well with another of your services. Why not, when the same guy owns both? Then there was the salesman trying to hawk the Professor's Picks who told us, "We'll have a Play of the Year for you every three or four weeks."

Oops!

These touts, who are largely unregulated, try to come off as near clairvoyants who routinely hit 75% to 90% of the games on their lists. But the honest handicappers who allow themselves to be monitored independently are lucky to break 52.38%, which, with a bookie's 10% commission on losses, is the break-even point for the gamblers. The touts call themselves Bobby Cash, Edmund Slick, the Swami, Dr. Bob, Action Man, Bill (Get) Wells and Bob Winsmore. Very few names, as you may have gathered, are real. The services claim to have the latest in computer and satellite technology, as well as inside info from a sprawling network of scouts, trainers (Jeff Allen Sports claimed to have "200 trainers on our payroll"), reports, traveling secretaries, coaches and even athletes. In reality, what they usual have are six salesmen in a 10 x 12 office working banks of phones while the boss sits with the Gold Sheet on his lap, a hole in his shoe and a wild guess on his mind. Most advisers have no computer, no satellite, no sources and no more of a clue about whom to pick in tonight's game than your uncle Wolfgang.

"I remember once a guy needed a bailout game real bad," says a former salesman for a major tout operating out of New York City. "He was buried, so he wanted to put two or three dimes [$2000 or $3000] down on something good. I said I had a lock for him. I put him on hold, and I went into my boss's office and I said, 'Who do you want to pick, the Jets or Minnesota?' And he said, 'Take Minnesota. My mom likes purple.' So I gave this poor sucker Minnesota based on some lady's favorite color. He lost."

Ripoffs Rule the Roost, Exhibit A: the Professor's seven-days-a-week 900 Econ-O-Phone. For only $2 for the first minute and $1 for every minute after that, the Professor (Ed Horowitz, a 49-year-old former cocaine addict who claims he taught a course in taxation one year, part-time, at the New York City campus of Pace University) promises to give his "essential" selections. We tried it. For the first seven minutes, we heard a tape of the Professor-who babbled like a man at a podium looking for his notes-plugging his other phone lines and dispersing bits of gambling theory that never quite went anywhere. Finally, he came to the pick we'd paid for. Guess what it was-the New York Jets vs. Chicago Bears game from two nights before. He urged us to take the high side of the over-under (38); the total score of the game was 32 (Chicago won 19-13). It is not a good sign when you are picking games two days late and still screwing them up.

SI: I have a complaint.

Professor's operator: So call the complaint department.

SI: I called the Econ-O-Phone. It gave me the Jets and the Bears.

Operator: So, who'd he give you?

SI: It doesn't matter. the game was played Monday. Today is Wednesday.

Operator: Oh. Has this ever happened to you before?

SI: No, this was the first time I ever used it.

Operator: What game did you want?

SI: I don't know. Just seeing what he said about baseball.

Operator: We're concentrating on football now. Call back tomorrow night.

SI: But the ad says the deal operates seven days a week.

Operator: How much do you think you spent?

SI: Eight dollars.

Operator: You'll live.

Click.

Maybe the Professor has been distracted lately. On April 11, he was arrested in New York City on charges of possessing gambling records, a felony. The Professor plea-bargained down to a $5000 fine and a misdemeanor conviction. Police who raided his Queens office at the time of his arrest did not mention finding a complaint department.

Ripoffs Rule the Roost, Exhibit B: The Source, a sports-adviser service in Farmingdale, NY, owned by Stu Feiner, who also owns a few 900 call-in lines. Exhibit C is Feiner's brother-in-law, the aforementioned Kevin Duffy, perhaps the nation's most prominent adviser, who became famous for running ads that said, "I will go 7-0 for you today, absolutely free." Too bad "absolutely free" meant you first had to sign up for a month's service at $350. Then, if Duffy didn't go 7-0 in the first week, you got the next month free. Duffy, who operates out of Massapequa, Long Island, also claimed to be no worse than 75% right, ever. Yet when his picks were audited by the Sports Monitor of Oklahoma City, one of the rare legitimate monitors (among the dozens of such outfits that purport to keep tabs on the performance of tout services), he never fared better than 58.8% in any regular football season between 1985 and '88, and he sank as low as 39.7% for his college picks in '87. Eventually the Sports Monitor refused to monitor Duffy because of his "deceptive ad practices."

Feiner agreed to be monitored by SI for four weeks in September. To his credit, he unfailingly gave us his choices. To his discredit, Feiner went 19-32, a 37% win rate, and lost us an imaginary $6,210 based on $100 per unit. During that same period, we were anonymously calling Feiner's 800 number, where, curiously, he claimed to be cleaning up. On Sept. 23, for instance, after Feiner had gone 3-11 for the week on his picks for SI, bringing his record for us to 11-25, one of his shills, Kenny Leeds, said in response to our anonymous call, "This week I [meaning the company] went 3-0, the week before, I was 3-1." On Oct. 3, after Feiner had gone 7-7 for the weekend, we again called anonymously and got another Feiner salesman, Larry Marco. "This past weekend, we swept the board," Marco said. Then Leeds called back. "This kid Feiner is making betting history," he said. Yeah, so did Art Schlichter.

Feiner was fined $13,000 in February 1990 by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs for false and misleading advertising, yet he sent out a promotional brochure last month that reported a "1991 documented record college and pro: 9-3." Knowing Feiner's record as we did, we asked him how he could say this. "That's what I had the first week." he said, before you started documenting me." Fine. That would've been the weekend of Aug. 31-Sept. 2. The booklet, however, was dated Sept. 19-Oct. 7, 1991. During one of our anonymous calls, Leeds told us he had "strong information" on a game he wanted us to buy, so strong it was a dead mortal lock, so strong that he was putting $2000 of his own money on the game. We were dubious.

Leeds: You don't believe me? I'll fly you out here [from Colorado].

SI: Fly me out there?

Leeds: I'll fly you to __ Long Island, and I'll have you take a ride with me!

SI: Why?

Leeds" To see how I pick it [his winnings] up and where I pick it up from.

SI: Can you fly me out this week?

Leeds: What I'm saying isÉ;;I'm using-that's a little bit of a mild exaggeration. Don't get me wrong, but I've met a lot of my clients. I've met Dan Marino.

SI: You know Dan Marino? Leeds: Well, I stood next to him at the Super Bowl, and my friend took my picture with him.

Other than suffering the repercussions of having your home telephone number sold to dozens of other advisers, other than sitting through the constant pitches to pay for "special information games" or "steam plays of the year," other than getting con calls from the very same service claiming to be another service that heard you were looking for somebody new, you'll find dealing with 800 phone services is a real treat. true, Mike Warren, a nationally marketed Baltimore handicapper (whose real name is Mike Lasky), went 12-4 over the four weeks we purchased his picks, but before he would give us even one game, his salesmen bugged us to buy into bigger packages. One day is was the "once in a lifetime pick-six extravaganza."

SI: You mean none of our games is in your top six?

Warren salesman: No, you're getting about the eighth-best pick.

SI: How fair is that?

Salesman: You get what you pay for.

Feiner says that if somebody calls his 800 number and doesn't sign up, "We'll call him every day for a couple months, because eventually they'll change their minds.

At least with a 900 number you don't have to leave your home number and be subjected to callbacks from hard-selling touts. But since setting up a 900 service takes only a couple of thousand dollars, tops, and requires almost no overhead, and since no license or education is required, and since almost nobody's cracking down on misleading ads, just about anybody can get into the business. "I look at the papers and tout sheets," says Jimmy (the Greek) Snyder. "Every son of a bitch and his brother is in there. I don't want to be one of them." Of course, the Greek was one until last year, when Warren, who paid Snyder to use his name and picks, chose not to pick up his option. Snyder is now threatening to sue Warren over the terms of termination of the contract. Warren calls Snyder "the most unprofessional guy I even worked with."

That's funny. Some people say the same thing about Warren. Two former Warren employees told SI that during their tenure with him they received "hundreds" of letters from customers complaining of unauthorized charges of $50 and $75 made by Warren's company on their credit cards in late 1987 and early '88. Such phony charges can be challenged by a simple phone call to the credit-card company, but gamblers are reluctant to draw attention to their gambling activities. Besides, said one of the ex-employees, "Warren probably figured that gamblers wouldn't notice an extra charge." Both sources say they confronted Warren about the charges and were threatened by him. Both then quit. Warren wholly denies their claims. "There's never been a complaint about that by a customer," Warren says.

"Mike Warren is a pathetic handicapper and a tremendous con artist," says Feiner. Says Warren, "Stu Feiner? He's got a big mouth, always talking big. He knows this hoodlum and that hoodlum-gonna break my legs. You know what? He can't break an egg. I gave him my address. He's so short, the only thing he can reach is my legs."

If you think guys like Feiner and Warren will make you wish you have never installed your phone, Atlanta's John L. Edens, alias Johnny DeMarco, the Babe Ruth of 900 sales pitchers, will make you wish Alexander Graham Bell had never been born. According to published ads and taped phone calls, Edens:

Got on his 800 line and told listeners to call his 900 line for $25, "and if the game loses, there'll be no charge." That, of course, is a lie. Once a call is made on a 900 line, the charge is automatic. Told customers of one of his phone services that his special guest-selector that day was "a former six-time NBA basketball All-Star who wishes to remain anonymous due to security matters." The anonymous "All-Star" then got on the line and offered his inside information on "three big plays, tonight." Told his customers on another occasion, "Sporting Illustrated magazine calls the Handicapping Hotline the Number One value in sports." Remarkably, there is no Sporting Illustrated. Wrote in a print ad, which appeared in the schedule of games he sent out to customers in early 1991, that his service was rated "the very best available by the Interstate Sports Commission, the nation's only legitimate monitoring service." The ad failed to mention that the ISC is owned by a company with which, DeMarco acknowledges, he is "affiliated." Got on his 800 line in March 1989 and said he had spoken with then N.C. State coach Jim Valvano and had "key" information on the Final Four. Valvano says he has never spoken to DeMarco.

Luckily for all of us, DeMarco/Edens has good intentions. "OK," he says, "so you go berserk on your ads-and some of the those are a little ridiculous-but if you can get people under your belt, you can help them more than you hurt them. Most gamblers are losers. You slow the guy down so he's only betting a couple of games, not the whole board." Hey, if this guy made a hole in one, he'd probably write down a zero.
Still, sports touts are in incredibly gracious and generous group. Just about every weekend they hear about fixes that are going down and are more than willing to share this precious information with you-for a small charge. Sales men for now-defunct Metro Sports, and New York-based service, actually had a fix written into a typed script that salesmen would use on the phone. It read: "I'm glad I got ahold of you in time! We are releasing our biggest information game of the ____ (month/season) going off ___ (day of week)É;;Now, ___ (name), listen carefully. Our inside sources have tipped us off to this game. We know exactly what's going to happen. We know the winner. (Lower voice) It's the kind of game I can't even talk about over the phone-you follow me, right? (Response) OK GoodÉ;;All you gotta do is cover me with $___ How do you do it, Visa or MasterCard?"

The fix scam is essential to a tout's repertoire. "You'd lower your voice way down," says one employee who worked for Duffy for four years, "and you'd say, 'Is this line clean? No taps on it, right? OK Listen, we've got information on this game. you know what I'm saying? The winner of this game was already decided in a hotel room.'"

Although SI paid $275 to sign up anonymously with Linemasters, whose figurehead is the Coach, Ron Bash, we found out very quickly that the $275 didn't cover every game the Coach had "information" on. The day after we signed up, our so-called personal representative, Mike Vela, called to say Linemasters had paid $300,000 for information from "people like you read aboutÉ;;This game is a lock. An absolute lock." Vela said he was putting the Coach himself on the line.

Bash: Look, this is not a game that might win. This is a game that should win. This is a game that is going to win. I know something, between you and me, that I shouldn't know. I don't even like to say over the phone what I know. Even the alums of this school are going to be pounding the other side.

SI: I don't know.

Bash: Look, you're crazy if you don't bet five dimes [$5,000] on this game. It's like stepping over an envelope full of money with your name on it. Send us a nickel [$500]. I have people putting 20, 30 dimes for this game. Milton Berle put six dimes on this game. Hey, you don't get many of these games in life."

SI: You had one of these last week.

After we didn't buy in, Linemasters didn't like us as much. Vela would make us call at least twice to get our picks, sometimes three times. One day he made us hold for 10 minutes. We finally hung up. We called back and left a message. No callback. Called again. Held 10 more minutes. Hung up. Called again. Vela: Hello.

SI: Geez, it's not easy getting ahold of you.

Vela: Excuse me? I called you and your line was busy. I don't have time to call busy numbers.

SI: Hey, I don't have time to sit on hold for 20 minutes either.

Vela: Call back with a better attitude. Click.

We called back. Our collar was starting to shrink.

Vela: Hello.

SI: Hey, let's get one thing straight. You work for me. I paid you.

Vela: Excuse me?

SI: I paid you.

Vela: Call me with a better attitude.

SI: No, don't hang up. Just give me the picks.

Click.

We called back again.

Vela: Hello.

SI: Just give me my picks.

Vela: Maybe if you get lucky today, you'll fall and you'll trip, hit your head and open your ___ eyes and realize someone's trying to help you. You're too ___ stupid to realize that now.

SI: Thanks a lot.

Vela: Take Syracuse, plus nine. Somebody's got to make you see reality. So maybe I got to abuse you a little to make you open your eyes.

SI: I don't need abuse.

Vela: Call me back at 6:30.

Click.

Linemasters went a respectable 11-8 (58%) on pro and college football for us and threw in all the abuse at no additional charge. Not that the abuse we got from Linemasters was at all uncommon. Abusing customers is SOP among sports advisers. "Gamblers are desperate people," says Arnie Wexler, executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey. In investigating Feiner's tactics, an inspector for the Consumer Affairs Department called one of Feiner's 800 numbers to take him up on an offer of a free line on a game during the '89 football season. The investigator spoke with a man known as Sonny Greco, also known as Phil Bonvino, a salesman for Stu Mitchell's Locker Room Report, still another service owned by Feiner. After a breathless, oath-laden pause-free speech, Greco went for the close. His pace was furious. The detective, posing as a customer named Stan, balked. Greco screamed louder.

Stan: I'm being bombarded here. Lemme think on it. I got a lot of guarantees here.

Sonny: I'm not interested in anybody else you're call., Stan! The difference here is this, OK? We own this game tonight on over-under! We own this information. Now go get your credit card, and let's start making money! You don't need to deal with anybody but me!

Stan: WaitÉ;;

Sonny: I own this game in over-under! I have the winner! Tonight! No what's your credit-card number?

Stan: OK, lemme get back to you.

Sonny: Stan, you're not going to call me back! You know it as well as I do, and if you think I'm going to let you off the phone with that ___, you're crazy! OK? I've got the winner tonight! I own this game in over-under, and I'm going to own your bookmaker's ass! So get your credit card out and let's get going!

Stan: Lemme tell you what we're gonna do. I'm gonna think about it. Sonny (louder still): Stan, there's nothing to think about! Click.

Greco is ruthless, loud and scary. No wonder Feiner has given him his own sports service-Phil Bonvino's Locker Room Report. Says a former phone tout for a large Long Island service, "There were plenty of times when we'd tell a guy, 'Look, if you don't come across, I'm gonna tell your wife you're gambling again.' Or we'd tell high school kids that we were going to tell their parents." Says the ex-salesman for Kevin Duffy, "We'd call up anybody, even guys we knew were going to Gamblers Anonymous. We'd stay on them." Question: How do sports advisers get away with it? Better question: Who are customers supposed to complain to? Gamblers don't want to turn anybody in because most of them are breaking the law themselves. As a result, the touts go unpoliced.

That may explain what happened in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Fla. A tout service working under the names Seasons Edge and W.D.L. [We Don't Lose] Sports, among others, would promise to repay gamblers any losses they had with their bookies as a result of bad advice. But according to a grand jury indictment handed down in Atlanta, when the gamblers would call for their refunds, the story would change; the salesman would say, "Oh, you just had the partial subscription package. If you just send me the difference between your package and the full-season price, we'll send you out a check." Some customers would actually do that, and the check wouldn't come. Then the touts would say something like, "Oh, we know we owe you $7,000, but we can only make the check out in increments of $5,000. Just send us another $3,000 and we'll send you the $10,000." Big surprise: The $10,000 would never come. One man lost $30,000 on the con.

Soon clients got a clue and stopped paying. That's when the people from the Seasons Edge group "got heavy-handed," says Robert Schroeder of the office of the US Attorney in Atlanta. "They'd threaten to kill members of the family, burn down their homes." One victim was told if he didn't send more money, he'd be "chopped up into little tiny pieces with a chain saw." Gamblers were bilked out of $413,000 before a victim's parents finally called the FBI when their son, a college student, lost his tuition money and resorted to using his father's credit card to try to obtain his "refund." Schroeder nailed conspiracy, wire fraud and extortion convictions on 12 people. They got the full package-sentences ranging up to 87 months in jail.

There are honest sports services. There are honest out-call masseuses, too.

The trick is finding one. Some handicappers have their picks documented by monitoring services that appear to be reliable. Unfortunately, some say, most monitors are as crooked as the touts. Ed Horowitz, the Professor, says he won't use monitors. "I got calls from two monitors who both said the same thing," Horowitz says. "They said I could pay, like $250 to turn in my games Friday, or $1250 to turn 'em in Monday."

Even more convenient is having your own monitor. Enter Mason King. The ad in the Dec. 7, 1990 edition of The National for Mason King Sports of Catonsville, Md., said you could get picks "from The King himself." Low on willpower, we called the King and left our number (standard procedure in the 800-line tout business). The King himself called us back. He boasted that his winning percentage was about 70%.

SI: Could you document that?

King: Sure. Call the Maryland Association of Handicappers. They document me. I think I'm about 33-16, I'm not exactly sure. I only give them my best play of the week."

King gave the number for the Maryland Association of Handicappers. We called the number and a voice answered.

Them: Hello?

SI: Hello, who's this?

Them: Who's this?

SI: Well, we were just trying to get ahold of the Maryland Association of Handicappers.

Them: Oh, uh, yeah, you got 'em.

SI: Do you document a Mason King Sports?

Them: Oh, oh, yeah. Mason King. He's one of the good ones. We've been doing him about two years now. Last year he was 35-16. The year before, he was 29-20. They're pretty decent.

That sounded a little fishy, so two weeks later we tried again. The same voice answered.

Them: Hello?

SI: Is Mason King in?

Them: Who's calling?

SI: Rick.

Them: HI, how you been? Long time since I talked to you. What number did you call?

SI: 301-521-6242.

Them: Yeah, that's a good one.

SI: This is weird, because Mason King said this number was the Maryland Association of Handicappers. But it isn't.

Them: No. It's a strange number. Very strange Mason gave you this number.

SI: When I called this number last time, you said you were the Maryland Association of Handicappers.

Them: Yeah, they use this number, sure.

SI: You mean they document you out of there?

Them: No, but when they're not in, it automatically forwards to my office.

SI: But you're not in business together, are you?

Them: Oh, no, it's just like, uh, an answering service for me, and for themÉ;;it's a call-forwarding thing. When the office here at Mason King's is closed, it's forward to them.

Now, that's convenient. Not only is the fox watching the henhouse, but the fox answers the hens' phone.

Then there's the Football Betting Guide. This 34-page booklet, which sells for $4, promises to uncover con artists and ne'er-do-wells in the business. The cover, for instance, reads EXPOSED! SPORTS SERVICE SCAMS! Inside, nearly every sports adviser is denounced as a fraud and a thief. Luckily, at the end, the book lists the top 10 services in the country, ones you can count on, ones that the book promises have no connection to the authors or the publishers. So who do you think owns the top two services listed? Right. People connected to the book.

According to Jack Stewart of Las Vegas, owner of Sports Watch (a well-regarded monitor), Greg Silveira, a San Diego-based phone tout, told him that he wrote the Betting Guide. Silveira also told SI that he thought publishing the book would be a good way to drum up business, especially since it listed his own two services, Blazer Sports and Spot Play, as the best. "Look, the sports handicapping industry needs to be cleaned up," said Silveira (who claims his real name is Gordie Deangelo but who also goes by Gordon Michaels). And if it's worth cleaning up, it's worth cleaning up at a profit."

But two weeks after saying that, Silveira took back most of what he had said, conceding that he had a direct interest in Blazer Sports but insisting that he had no involvement in Spot Play or the Football Betting Guide. That seemed odd, because when SI checked on Oct. 16, the 800 numbers for Blazer and Spot Play were both listed under one address in San Diego and under the name Greg Silveira. One handicapper ripped by the Football Betting Guide, Mike Lett, was so irate at his review that he threatened to "go to the FBI." To calm him down, the Betting Guide agreed to run public-apology ads in betting newspapers for the rest of the 1991 football season. Whom did Lett deal with at the Betting Guide? "Greg Silveira," Lett told SI. This tout business has the craziest coincidences.

One of the craziest is that many of the monitoring services are owned by the very people they're supposedly monitoring. Not surprisingly, independent monitors don't get much business. One is the Handicappers' Report Card of Park Forest, Ill. In the last four years the Report Card document the best legitimate adviser as Randy Radtke Sports, of West Brooklyn, Ill., at 57.7% Radtke also had the best single football season in the Report Card's history-66.2%, including bowls and playoffs, in 1990-91. Somehow he has done it without threatening, abusing or lying to his customers. "I don't want to milk customers out of everything they're worth and go on to the next batch," says Radtke, 37. "I'm friends with every customer I have."

A guy like Radtke would make millions if touts were regulated, but there are those who think the whole business should be eradicated, not controlled. Why does somebody living in Iowa City need advice on a bet when betting isn't legal anywhere within five tanks of gas? "How many people get off the phone with these guys and hop on a plane to Vegas?" says Wexler, of the Council on Compulsive Gambling. Licensing would make touts legitimate, but do they really deserve legitimacy?

"You'd be talking with grown men who were crying on the phone," says one former tout.. "Guys who were losing everything but still betting. And I'd lie awake in the middle of the night hoping the guy would win. So I'd call the sports phone and get a late West Coast game at 4 a.m. and go, 'Damn, he lost again.' "

"It was like feeding drugs to an addict," says the ex-salesman for Duffy. "We'd try to take whoever we got and make them bet more. We'd take college kids who were betting $25 and say, 'Hey, you got to bet $500 on this game. If you don't bet a nickel I'm not gonna give it to you.' If they won, they got a taste for big money. If they lost, they were desperate to get out [of the hole], and so they start chasingÉ;; How can anyone who works for Kevin and Stu have a conscience? Basically, I was just hurting people." And that, unfortunately, is the only absolute lock we found.

Sports Interaction