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Las Vegas betting icon inducted into Sports Betting Hall of Fame

When Circa sportsbook manager Nick Bogdanovich graduated from college, he had no clue what career he wanted to pursue.

A few years later, the Las Vegas native earned his unofficial PhD in sports betting from Binion’s Horseshoe, where he became sportsbook director at age 27 in 1989 and took wagers from the sharpest of the sharps.

Bogdanovich, 60, touched on his higher education as a bookmaker last week when he was inducted into the SBC Sports Betting Hall of Fame in a ceremony in New York City.

“When I was working at the Horseshoe, that prepared me for the rest of my career,” he said. “I was really green, and I was running the second- or third-biggest book in the state. The first five calls I’d get in the morning, the first one was from Bob Black, known as ‘Toledo Black.’ The second call would be from Billy Walters. The third call was from Billy Baxter. The fourth call was from Jack Franzi. The fifth call was from Jimmy Aller. And the next 10 calls weren’t any easier.

”They were the who’s who of bettors. If I didn’t learn fast, I would be out of the business.”

Bogdanovich learned fast. After nine years at Binion’s, he also ran books at the Stratosphere, Mandalay Bay and Club Cal Neva before embarking on a nine-year run as William Hill sportsbook director.

He helped William Hill set state records for revenue before the company was acquired in 2021 by Caesars Entertainment, which fired Bogdanovich four months later.

In 2022, Bogdanovich was hired at Circa Sports, which, like himself, takes pride in welcoming sharp action.

“I’ve sort of come full circle because of Circa. They take all comers,” he said. “We’ve got the who’s who of bettors now at Circa. Those early years at Binion’s probably prepared me well.”

Sands of time

Born and raised in Las Vegas, Bogdanovich always had a passion for sports and starred in baseball and basketball at Western High School. He played college basketball at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho, where he earned a degree in business administration.

“With that degree in business, I had zero idea what I wanted to do,” he said. “I just came home and tried to figure it out.”

Bogdanovich landed his first job in the sports betting industry as a ticket writer at the Sands with the help of South Point owner Michael Gaughan, who also was inducted into the SBC Sports Betting Hall of Fame last week.

In fact, Gaughan flew Bogdanovich and several other Hall of Fame bookmakers, including Chris Andrews, Vinny Magliulo, Jimmy Vaccaro and Art Manteris, to the ceremony on his private plane.

“That’s what made it so special. Going in with Michael and having him take us back there,” Bogdanovich said. “There were plenty of good gambling stories along the way.”

Bogdanovich is friends with the sons of Las Vegas cardiologist Charles Ruggeroli, a close friend of Gaughan’s who asked if he had any openings in 1986.

“He didn’t have any openings. But a guy who used to work in Michael’s book, Rick Herron, was running the book at the Sands and hired me,” Bogdanovich said. “After six months, they promoted me to supervisor and then I just went from there. That’s how I originally got going.”

He quickly realized he wanted to work in the industry for the rest of his life.

“Right away, I knew that I had to be around the action,” he said. “There were several high rollers in there, and once I got around it and saw the action in the book and the casino, I guess I was probably hooked.”

After a well-publicized misunderstanding in which Bogdanovich was fired from his post at Mandalay Bay over $550,000 in Super Bowl bets placed by Charles Barkley (without a marker), he spent two years on the other side of the counter as a pro sports bettor.

He won three handicapping contests in a row at Leroy’s, including a $5,000-entry one that paid $160,000.

“That was a fun little run there,” Bogdanovich said.

But he called it “a blessing” to get back to work as a bookmaker for good in 2008 at Cal Neva in Reno, and he’s proud that he’s always treated bettors fairly in his 37-year career.

“From day one, I’ve always been considered a liberal bookmaker,” he said. “I’ve tried to do things the right way.

“I ran fair places. I’ve always had fair pricing, and I’ve always treated customers fairly. I just know, in the long run, that gets the job done.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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Las Vegas handicapper Bruce Marshall is an analyst at VegasInsider.com. Each week, he provides the Review-Journal with NFL tech notes and trends. Follow @VegasInsider on X.