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Betting the Books

Learning the new sports betting lingo is enough to transform a regular trade-magazine editor into a cigar-chomping, fedora-wearing, crusty old handicapper.

Betting the Books

As you may have noticed, I wrote an article on sports betting for this issue. It involves online sports betting via internet casinos. It is an area in which, as hard as it may be to believe, I am not an expert.

Normally, when I write about casino activity, much of it is from personal experience. When I write about slot-machine features, it is with the familiarity of someone who has spent hours at a time spinning the reels. I even did that before you could simply cash out a ticket and stop playing for a restroom break.

Yes, there was a time, kids, when hundreds of dollars in credits had to be cashed out in the form of buckets of coins, and there never were enough coins in the hopper to cash out quickly. You had to wait for a slot attendant, normally some doddering guy about a hundred years old, to lug a sack of quarters or dollar tokens across a vast casino floor to refill the hopper, after which he would fill out more paperwork than normally required for a mortgage, before you could finish your cash-out task.

Needless to say, if it was a restroom emergency, the situation could turn ugly.

But to get back to my original point, I believe the effect on the casino industry of Britain’s departure from the European Union will be… No, wait. That wasn’t my original point. It was the sports betting thing. Yes, as I was saying, I know about things like slot machines and restroom breaks from personal experience. When I write about blackjack, it’s because I’ve seen dealer cards totaling 21 more times than I can count. Craps? Hey, I’ve heard the term “seven out” more than I’ve heard the term “hello.”

Not really. I’ve only been a craps player less than 10 years, which for me, sadly, is the blink of an eye. More on that later.

The point I’m making via this excruciatingly circuitous route is that, when it comes to sports betting and internet casinos, I must admit to being a novice. Even though Las Vegas has been something of a second home to me, I have made precisely two wagers on sporting events in the 35-plus years I’ve been writing about casinos.

Both wagers were on my Steelers to win. My Steelers lost both times. So naturally, I deduced that it was my wager that caused the losses, and never wagered on sports again.

I’ve been similarly slow to dive into the internet gaming craze. I always loved going to casinos. Somehow, playing blackjack online, in my pajamas over corn flakes at my kitchen table, has thus far not caught my fancy. (I do enjoy walking into the high-end gaming parlor at Borgata in my pajamas, though. Oh, the looks I get!) Besides, I like to wave bye-bye to my cash as the guy plunges it into the netherworld under the gaming table.

Also, I love having lots of chips in front of me (as rare an occasion as that is). I don’t even want to “color up.” I’d rather have enough chips to dive into, like Scrooge McDuck did in his vault in the old comic books. You can’t do that with virtual chips.

Still, as I learn more about internet casinos, and online sports betting in particular, I can see how people are having tons of fun betting on games. I can see how much of a blast in-play wagering is—watching a game while throwing a few bucks down on who will score the next touchdown or the next goal, or hit the next home run.

Also, you’ve got to love the lingo.

This is something I experienced when I was still learning how to play craps. I remember not having a clue what “Horn-high yo!” was, but betting it anyway just because it sounded cool. Researching the world of sports betting is yielding similar cool-sounding lingo. Before I even place a wager, I’m looking for the lowest juice—minus-110, baby!—watching for the lines to move, beating the spread, betting the dog, avoiding the squares, and looking for what the sharps and wiseguys are laying down.

It’s enough to transform a regular trade-magazine editor into a cigar-chomping, fedora-wearing, crusty old handicapper. (Is that the right term?)

By the way, I have one piece of extremely good news to send your way this month: I will not be writing a single word about the coronavirus.

I’m too busy washing my hands like there’s no tomorrow.

Frank Legato is editor of Global Gaming Business magazine. He has been writing on gaming topics since 1984, when he launched and served as editor of Casino Gaming magazine. Legato, a nationally recognized expert on slot machines, has served as editor and reporter for a variety of gaming publications, including Public Gaming, IGWB, Casino Journal, Casino Player, Strictly Slots and Atlantic City Insider. He has an B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the author of the books, How To Win Millions Playing Slot Machines... Or Lose Trying, and Atlantic City: In Living Color.