Let’s face it, the history of sports betting shows on television is not pretty. Oldsters among us still recall the flameout of Jimmy “the Greek” Snyder, the first prominent personality to discuss football betting before a national network audience. More recently, we’ve been subjected to basic cable hucksters attempting to con the gullible and the feeble-minded into paying for worthless football predictions. Now and then, a TV hack will don a wizard’s hat and offer his “fearless forecast.”
Given the dismal track record, it’s not surprising producers have been hesitant to take a chance on a TV sports betting program.
Enter The Linemakers, a promising new entry in the field that made its debut this month on Discovery HD Theater (Cox channel 1687). Taped each Tuesday at the South Point and airing Friday evenings, The Linemakers features a panel discussion on sports betting among a group of Nevada sports book industry insiders. The lineup includes Lou D’Amico, Vinny Magliulo, Kenny White, Richie Baccellieri, Rick Herron and Jimmy Vaccaro. Brian Blessing hosts.
The titular linemakers review the previous weekend’s football action from a betting angle and look ahead to the coming weekend’s games, discussing point spreads in a professional, measured manner with some organic doses of humor. Nothing seems forced, and the industry veterans know their stuff.
- Jeff Haney is one of the nation's leading sports gambling writers. Connect with him at sophisticatedmaniac.com
“We know the topic, but it’s a lot of work to gather your thoughts, put them in order and get a good flow to it,” Baccellieri told me. “They send us a segment sheet with an outline of the show on Friday, so throughout the weekend I’m making notes of key points on the sheet. Then when we get started Tuesday, hopefully we’re all on the same page.”
The conversation in the show’s first episode focused on the basics of sports betting and probably seemed overly rudimentary to a Las Vegas audience. The second installment delved into some meatier concepts. For example, the crew pointed out that when Utah State nearly upset Auburn, the Aggies were an underdog of as high as 14-1 on the money line.
“I think we have to find an audience of people somewhere in the middle,” Baccellieri said. “They’re not in the inner circle of the business, but they understand what sports betting’s like and they enjoy it and want to know more. That’s a pretty broad range of people.”