Working In a Sportsbook

WORKING IN A SPORTS BOOK June 23, 2004 - Wild Bill

This is the time of year that requests for information on working in the sports book industry usually surface. Newly minted university graduates begin their adventure into working life and a fair number believe this to be an appealing career choice in a growing industry.
Below is the first part in a series of articles based on current advice from people already working in the industry, both in Costa Rica and Las Vegas. It isn't an impossible dream, but one that certainly must be considered carefully before an attempt is made to break into the field.

Think about it, who wouldn't want to work in a sports book environment? At least the commonly held stereotypes of the work sure sound appealing. The mix of a profitable cash-based business, gambling and sports will certainly appeal to a large number of young males looking to find meaningful work.

But beyond the televisions around the office and the non-stop gambling discussion, working in the industry doesn't quite match the stereotypes.

The first sacrifice is the most immediate. Obviously, most people can't start this line of work where they live. The first step is moving to one of the limited areas where the work is available, which is Nevada or the few offshore jurisdictions. While people conjure up mental images of Costa Rica as being a green, tropical paradise, the reality is more like San Jose, a diesel-choked metropolis with bad roads and a recent surge in crime.

I certainly agree there are far worse places to live, but somehow I don't think most people ever imagine it the way it is. Others will choose to go to Las Vegas to pursue their career, yet find that crime, traffic, and skyrocketing housing costs greet them and the 6,000 other people moving to town every month.

The next sacrifice is subtle, yet adds up in the long run. Most people go to get their degree so they can have a job with reasonable office hours for good pay. Reverse that and you have the typical management-level sports book employee. While many of the hours spent in the office aren't hard-working hours, they are hours nonetheless. Even if the work isn't terribly difficult, the vast majority of us surely would rather be anywhere but work.

Every sports book manager in Costa Rica that I know puts in a minimum 10-hour day. Most work six days per week and some even make it in to work all seven days, except in the slowest of times. These same employees can vividly remember their last vacation, usually from many months if not years ago. Is this the life most of us would really choose?

I will outline other sacrifices in Part 2 later this week. I expect only the most dedicated, and therefore the most likely to succeed, will still view working in the industry as a worthy career goal.

Good stuff. Looking forward to part 2.

Did you catch the Sports Illustrated article a few months back on Roxy (think that was his name)? Pretty lengthy article and I definitely thought it showed the no nonsense and stressful side to the job.