Scott Schettler Named To Sports Gambling Hall of Fame

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Scott Schettler Named To Sports Gambling Hall of Fame
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Scott Schettler, a longtime oddsmaker who wrote a book about various characters at Las Vegas sportsbooks during the Mob era, has been named to the Sports Gambling Hall of Fame.

Schettler is among 10 gaming pioneers being inducted into the Hall of Fame’s inaugural class. The induction ceremony is set for Aug. 11 at Circa Resort in downtown Las Vegas. The event is being held during the Bet Bash sports betting conference.

Schettler is one of nine inductees already named. The final member is expected to be named soon. 

Pizza And A Parlay

Schettler’s 2009 book “We Were Wiseguys and Didn’t Know It” chronicles the transition in Nevada from stand-alone betting parlors run by odds-making gurus to large sportsbooks inside casinos. 

Making his way from Pennsylvania to Las Vegas in 1968, Schettler found a job through a connection at the Tower of Pizza, an Italian restaurant on the Strip just south of the Dunes hotel-casino. The Tower of Pizza no longer exists. That area on the west side of the Strip near the Cosmopolitan has been built up over the years. In 1998, casino developer Steve Wynn opened the Bellagio hotel-casino where the Mob-linked Dunes once stood.

By the time Schetter arrived in the late 1960s, the Tower of Pizza’s co-owner, Jasper Speciale, a New York transplant, not only was taking food orders over the phone but also was accepting sports bets that way.

On the phone, Speciale would say, “What’s that? Pepper and egg sandwich. Okay … and a pizza with pepperoni. Okay … and a parlay with Alabama and Oklahoma. Okay.”     

From Restaurant To Legal Sportsbooks

After moving on from the restaurant, and a stop as a bar boy at the off-Strip International resort (now the Westgate), Schettler landed at the Churchill Downs, a stand-alone race and sportsbook on the Strip. The Churchill Downs also has been demolished. It was located between the current-day Paris and Planet Hollwoood resorts. 

That experience led to jobs for Schettler at sportsbooks inside casinos in Reno and Las Vegas. During this period, Schettler worked with sports betting innovators such as Bob Martin and  Roxy Roxborough, who also are being inducted into the Sports Gambling Hall of Fame. 

In Southern Nevada, those jobs put Schettler in contact with an array of Las Vegas sports-betting regulars, including casino executives and the Chicago Outfit’s Tony Spilotro.

In 1983, Schettler became director of race and sports at the Stardust hotel-casino, once a Mob-connected resort on the Strip with a large sportsbook earlier developed by Chicago oddsmaker Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal

Rosenthal had left town after surviving a car bombing in 1982, but in the 1970s he illegally ran the Stardust and three other Argent Corp. casinos for Midwestern crime families. Rosenthal also hosted a television talk show from the Stardust, featuring celebrity guests such as Frank Sinatra. 

In the movie “Casino,” Robert De Niro portrays a character based on Rosenthal, with Joe Pesci playing a Spilotro-inspired character. The Stardust has since been demolished. In June 2021, Resorts World Las Vegas first opened at that location.

A few years ago, former casino executive Richard Schuetz posted a tweet recalling a phone conversation with Schettler about the “old days” in Las Vegas. 

“I just got off of the phone with Scott Schettler, who ran the Stardust book, back in the day,” Schuetz tweeted. “I met Scott when I ran the casino at the Stardust. The call lasted 30 minutes and we were talking about the old days. 28 of those minutes involved hilarious laughter.”

Now, Schuetz is scheduled to introduce Schettler at the Sports Gaming Hall of Fame’s induction ceremony in August.

Sports Gambling Hall of Fame List

Below is a list of the Sports Gambling Hall of Fame members named so far:

  • Charles McNeil 
  • Jack Franzi 
  • Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal 
  • Jackie Gaughan
  • Bob Martin
  • Billy Walters
  • Roxy Roxborough
  • Jimmy Vaccaro
  • Scott Schettler

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Larry Henry

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