After 43 years of betting in Las Vegas, Art Manteris hangs up and sets off on the bookmaker’s true dream: a comfortable retirement.
Manteris, one of the longest-serving bookmakers in Las Vegas, this week announced his retirement from Station Casinos, where he has overseen the company’s racing and sports betting for the past 22 years. He will remain with the company in an advisory capacity, but says his days of making big decisions are over.
“He loves the industry a lot more than I do and I loved it,” legendary Las Vegas odds maker Roxy Roxborough said of Manteris, his longtime friend.
The 64-year-old Manteris came to Las Vegas from Pittsburgh in the late 1970s. His bookmaking career began as a ticket writer at the Fremont Hotel & Casino in downtown Las Vegas before moving to the fabled Stardust, where he worked on the manually operated oddsboard that resembled the old-school baseball scoreboards similar to those in Fenway Park .
He then headed sports betting at Caesars Palace and the Hilton SuperBook in Las Vegas (now Westgate) before retiring from Station Casino. In 2019 Manteris was inducted into the SBC Sports Betting Hall of Fame.
In his final week, Manteris spoke to ESPN’s David Purdum about his goals, strategies and greatest achievements from his 40-year career as a bookmaker.
Questions and answers with Art Manteris
What are the goals of a bookmaker in a major Las Vegas casino?
Manteris: Driving handle (amounts) and revenue (net profit). It has to be both. It is not easy. You have to drive the business and you have to drive the results and sometimes they don’t always go hand in hand.
What’s the biggest bet you’ve made?
Manteris: One million dollars from Kirk Kerkorian (a well-known Las Vegas business mogul who passed away in 2015). It was at the 49ers-Chargers Super Bowl. He had the favorite and the chargers had a chance in the last few seconds.
Please compare what would cause the point spread to move in the 80s and 90s and what would make the line move in the current sports betting market.
Manteris: There are big differences in why the line moved then or now. At that time, the line movement was mainly money based and moving the markets. Now there are so many lines online that a small amount of money can have a dramatic effect and move the line across Nevada, the country, and the world. It’s not always a good thing. For a good bookmaker, it is important to know what is causing this line movement and how believable a line movement is.
Has the weather improved over the years? Are they harder to beat now than they were in the 80s and 90s?
Manteris: They’re harder to beat because the theoretical odds are thinner. The competition has reduced the theoretical house edge, which is more beneficial to the player. Because of the nature of the game, the player is harder to beat. Still, the last three years have been our most successful years ever and I feel good about it.
How do you go about setting lines and odds for the local Las Vegas teams like the NHL Golden Knights and NFL Raiders?
Manteris: Is it in the bookmaker’s best interests to raise the price for the hometown team, knowing that the hometown favorite will be getting local money? My answer is clearly no, it isn’t. It is far better for the public and for your bottom line results to book at the right price, not to purposely increase the price and thereby place value bets on the other side by the discerning entrants and your bread and butter discouraging local players who might know that the price is excessive. Sure, your peaks and valleys will get more dramatic if you book the right number in these circumstances, but this is the business you are in. You have to play with it.
What was the biggest sweat of your career?
Manteris: The first year Vegas Knights had a huge liability for winning the Stanley Cup, and they got so dangerously close that I still shiver when I think of it.