Behind the Betting Lines 1/02/2005

by T.B
Courtesy of
1/02/2005 11:15 AM EST

Behind The Lines Vol. 18

Happy New Year everybody.  That greeting comes to you from Curacao, the offshore sportsbook capital of the world.  Well, in my mind it is and maybe I’m a little bit biased.  But Curacao’s been involved in the gaming business since the offshore movement started and at one time or another has been home to some of the most successful and longest running operations in the industry.  Names like Oasis, Gameday, Pinnacle, VIP and ABC Islands.

Of course, because Curacao has been involved in the industry since 1995, the island has seen its share of scandals as well.  I’d have to say the biggest one involved Sports Market and its owner Charlie Therwanger, the Texas Con Man.  He disappeared from the island after the 2001-2002 football season, which culminated with New England upsetting St. Louis in the Super Bowl.

It was easy to tell something wasn’t right with Sports Market in the weeks leading up to that game.  They were never afraid of taking Wiseguy action and their numbers were always a half point or a point off the rest of the world.  But that whole college bowl season they had numbers that were off the wall.  Some games were 2 ½ to 3 points off what everyone else had.

The capper was the Super Bowl though.  The line was 14 EVERYWHERE, and it was drawing almost 50-50 action.  Everywhere that is, except Sports Market.  They were running 14 ½, so you knew they were trying for a monster decision on St. Louis.  I mean, they were the only place in the world running 14.5 so anybody who was going to bet New England was doing it there.

On top of all the action they were taking in from their customer base, Therwanger was also betting out the game at other offshore shops.  He had dug himself a huge hole and was banking on Mike Martz to get him out of it.  Bad move.  And when the dust settled and Sports Market’s employees showed up for work the following Tuesday, they found a locked door.  The Texas Con Man had already fled the island.  To this day there’s more than a few folks who’d like to know the whereabouts of this dirtbag.

Sports Market isn’t the only soap opera story from Curacao, just the most outrageous.  Other infamous names that have long been since forgotten include Rainbow Sports, Lone Star, Grand Holiday, and names that have been changed like the Galaxy-Royal Sports saga.

What’s the reason for the mini-history lesson this week?  The NFL games are a joke for the most part.  There are only two games where both teams have something on the line.  The Jets @ St. Louis game is one of them and New Orleans @ Carolina is the other.  Let’s see, you either have to bet on Mike Martz or Chad Pennington?  Good Lord.

Teaser Of The Week

St. Louis up to + 10 ½ and Carolina down to – ½.

I’m hitting the beach to have a pina colada with my special lady friend.  Enjoy the games this weekend … T.B.