VSiN sports gambling network marks 1-year anniversary at South Point

Updated February 4, 2018 - 12:31 am

It was 2 p.m. on the eve of Super Bowl Eve. In a little while, Brent Musburger would be ensconced in the VSiN broadcast booth at the South Point sports book, counting down the hours to the 52nd installment of The Big Game and checking in with sidekick Ron Flatter, who was looking, live, at the Golden Knights’ hockey game against the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul.

But first, there was a young couple from Montana, where Musburger is from, who had come a long way to see him. The broadcast legend slid out from his surrogate office — a booth in the sports book — to chat with the kids from the Big Sky.

Vinny Magliulo, one of Musburger’s “Guys in the Desert,” said fellow oddsmaker Jimmy Vaccaro would be by to set the over/under on the number of onlookers from other states with whom Brent would interact before this day’s two-hour chat on Sirius XM 204 was complete.

“Endless energy, and one of the best ambassadors for legal sports wagering that we could ever have,” Magliulo said. “During the show, if we have an extended commercial break, he’s out signing, he’s out taking pictures.”

It was a year ago this weekend that South Point owner Michael Gaughan arranged for Musburger to arrive at the broadcast studio he had built for him and his Guys in the Desert via a carriage drawn by the majestic Budweiser Clydesdales. This was only three days after Musburger, 78, called his final game for ESPN, Georgia vs. Kentucky in basketball.

VSiN — which stands for Vegas Stats and Information Network — would debut with a special report on Super Bowl Sunday. Now it’s a year old, with 10 hours of live programming per day and lots of podcasts. Time flies when one is breaking down the odds.

“It’s been amazing, because last year at the Super Bowl we just did a halftime show — who knew?” Musburger said before being told the young couple from Montana had been waiting patiently. “A whole new world has opened up for us.”

Initially, VSiN might have been just something to do in his semiretirement, a way to help nephew Brian and brother Todd realize their vision of launching a multiplatform network dedicated to betting on sports. But Brent Musburger said with sensibilities about sports wagering evolving and becoming mainstream, it also was the proper time to drop a dime, a la John Stockton.

“I always knew there were big bettors in town, and there were syndicates of big bettors that put their money together. But what I saw in the sports book were the $20, $50 and $100 bettors enjoying friendship, buying a ticket and making sure they got a free beverage with it — you’ve got to get a free beer if you’re going to bet a game in a casino,” Musburger said with an enthusiastic wag of the finger.

“Some people work crossword puzzles, other people like to bet on sporting events. No harm as far as I’m concerned.”

0:03

■ The honors continue to roll in for Tommy Pham, who was inducted into the Durango High School Hall of Fame on Friday night. Pham, the first ballplayer of Vietnamese descent to play in the major leagues since Cincinnati Reds pitcher Danny Graves, had a breakout year for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2017, hitting .306 with 23 homers, 73 RBIs and 25 stolen bases in 128 games. The 29-year-old outfielder recently was named Man of the Year by the St. Louis Baseball Writers’ Association.

■ Palo Verde High’s Matt Polster received his first cap — which is what soccer people call an appearance in an international game — in the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 0-0 draw against Bosnia and Herzegovina at StubHub Center in Carson, California, in a Sunday friendly. “Through the course of the January (training) camp, I thought I did really well. … I wanted to be part of the starting 11, and I achieved that,” the 24-year-old Chicago Fire defender told U.S. Soccer.

■ NASCAR might have issues with dwindling attendance and TV ratings and stars retiring, but its drivers still know how to connect with fans. Kurt Busch, Bubba Wallace, Ty Dillon and Cole Custer came out of their haulers unannounced to sign autographs, pose for selfies and interact with fans on a Las Vegas Motor Speedway pit tour during a break in testing Thursday. You should have seen the smiles.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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