Gadoon “Spanky” Kyrollos is standing off to the side of the stage in Circa Resort and Casino’s Galaxy Ballroom with a huge smile on his face. His creation, the three-day sports betting conference called Bet Bash, has gone almost flawlessly.
This day is no different, and might be the pinnacle of the event. The 45-year-old just moderated the first-ever public appearance by Billy Walters, long considered the GOAT of sports betting.
Walters, whose only other interviews were with 60 Minutes and VSIN, was here to discuss his new book, Gambler: Secrets From A Life At Risk, as well as to share his sports betting knowledge with the convention attendees.
They were eager to hear it. The ballroom was packed, and considering the ovation Walters received after the 45-minute Q&A, those in attendance were appreciative of the information Walters provided.
It is one nugget of data conventioneers are mining in their effort to become better sports bettors. The convention has grown from its first year as a one-day event with 220 people to three days and 550 attendees. They pay anywhere from $749 for general admission to $1,099 for a VIP pass to not only learn, but to network with some of the best in the business.
“There’s a need for this,” Kyrollos says. “There is no other conference that is by bettors for bettors. Everything is industry conferences, operators, regulators. Nothing is for the player. To me this was a no-brainer.”
That is certainly why William Harris is here. The 24-year-old from Austin, Texas has been dabbling in sports betting for the last four years but now is getting serious about it. He came to Bet Bash to get better at wagering on sports.
“I’m still fairly low-level,” Harris said. “I started at $10 to $20 a bet on a game. Now I am up to $50 to $100. I want to increase that, though. I want to learn as much as possible. This seemed like a great event to do that.”
Kyrollos packs a lot of activity into the three days. One day features a speed-networking event where people can meet with industry professionals and pick their brains.
“That was important to me,” Harris said about the event. “I was hoping to make connections. Talking to guys who are experienced and can teach me stuff, maybe get a mentor.”
Harris did some effective networking at one of the evening’s cocktail parties.
“I was a little intimidated at first,” Harris said. “Everyone was willing to help out and give me advice. They were willing to talk to me.”
Connections are definitely something Kyrollos stresses.
“You can’t do this alone,” Kyrollos says. “You know, one person might be good at one thing, another person might be good at another, but if they combine themselves, they get that synergy, two plus two equals five, and then they come out greater as a whole.”
Another teachable moment Kyrollos wanted was the panels he assembles on the final day. This year featured three expert panels.
The first was “Attacking the Weekly College Football Line.” There were sports bettors and bookmakers on the stage explaining how they analyze lines that are set by the sportsbooks and how the bookmakers adjust for the betting that takes place.
The second was “Traders.” That discussion featured professional sports bettors and sportsbook managers. They shared how they examine the day-to-day grind of being a professional sports bettor as lines are released, limits rise, and bookmakers and bettors compile their positions on the daily slate of games.
The final panel was “Can’t We All Just Get Along.” This group that included content creators delved into the social media aspect of sports betting and how the two coexist.
As popular as Bet Bash has become, Kyrollos wants to keep it intimate.
“I like our size,” he says. “I don’t look to increase too much. And the Circa has been great to us. I don’t want to make this turn into like a 3,000-person convention. You kind of lose the luster of it. I want everyone to recognize everyone’s face, and we still want to bring in new people, don’t get me wrong. But it’s going to organically grow.”
There might also be another benefit for the event, Kyrollos says.
“It’s just word of mouth, and people say this is a can’t miss event,” he says. “And hopefully, some of these operators and regulators, they start saying, ‘Hey, listen, it might be a good idea to listen to our players and listen to our customers and see what they have to say.’ Right?”