Talking With Sportsbook Manager Todd Crafts

Veteran employee chats about his experiences in the ‘book’

Todd Crafts has worked in Nevada sportsbooks since 1995, so he’s seen a lot of money bet on sports. In his 23 years in the industry, he’s helped many first-time bettors come into the books, and he assures every one of them that the process is as easy as putting money on a winner sounds. While the sportsbook counters and big boards of numbers might seem intimidating, Crafts guarantees that a sportsbook experience is all about having fun.

What are the biggest days for traffic?

The biggest events are always the most crowded days. Super Bowl is the biggest day for sure. Then the second is the opening four days of the NCAA Tournament, with the Thursday and Friday the biggest. For horses, it is the Kentucky Derby. Whatever the biggest events are, those always seem to be the biggest wagering days.

Does that make it more exciting for everyone, whether they’re betting several thousand dollars or twenty?

Yeah, that’s it. The environment brings a lot of excitement, win or lose. If you’re in an environment where they’re into the action, it’s not just the daily grind of your wagering. The bigger events bring out the general public, which generates more of an electric atmosphere that’s not just completely revolved around winning and losing. More people on both sides of a bet, it’s a little more exciting for sure. The big events are more work for the people behind the counter, but it’s worth it.

Craziest bet you’ve seen?

The craziest bet I’ve seen to win is probably for a long shot in 1996, when Mark McGwire sat out the first month of the season and someone put 100 bucks on him to still win the home run title. It was something crazy, like 1,000-to-1, and he ended up winning. McGwire was hurt for a month and a half and still hit 52 home runs, but that was interesting to see someone bet on that. But there’s been a lot of great bets. When the Rams won the Super Bowl in ’99, they were 200-1, and a lot of people cashed in then. The long shots, those are the ones that we remember.

People are betting on everything, and you’re not laughing at ridiculous bets?

No, you see it all the time. Anything can happen. You bet on your team. Some sports see a little more long shot action, but it does happen in every sport. Come in, pick a team, take a shot and view it as an entertainment experience.

How often do you get intimidated people leaving without placing a bet?

Not too often that we see. Usually, we can spot them out and a supervisor or writer coaches them through what they need to get a wager in, as long as they have some idea of what they want to bet. We’re friendly people.

What does a first-time bettor need to come with?

For the first-time player, the best thing to do is have an idea of who to wager on. That helps a lot. Believe it or not, some people come in and say, ‘Who should I bet on?’ That really does us no good. They need to have a favorite team or a game they like on the slate that day that intrigues them to come out. Just go from there as far as asking someone behind the counter how to go about it.

Usually, the person behind the counter will instruct them to use a betting number if possible. That helps the process. But it’s OK not to use a number as long as they don’t have a long parlay.

It is OK to ask some questions about certain bets?

That’s what we’re there for. We want new players, and if anyone has questions or worries, it’s up to the staff to help them out. It’s usually really fairly simple for both the bettor and the person taking the bet.

What are some ways for a first-time bettor to come in and get a little confidence so they come back?

If they’re looking to try it out, go for a bet where their odds of winning are great so they get the thrill of actually winning a bet a few times. They’re not winning as much, but it’s most likely a win. It’ll be a straight bet on the Moneyline favorite. Usually, if you lay a favorite, more times than not, your chances are better to choose them to win outright without points included.