LAS VEGAS – We’re fresh off one of the sports calendar’s biggest betting events of the year: March Madness, where officials estimated over $10 billion wagered.
Billings native Brent Musburger was, and still is, in the middle of it. Literally.
Retired from network television sportscasting, Musburger has been hanging out for a little over a year in a glass studio overlooking the South Point Sports Book, while wading into gambling advice on Sirius XM radio with bookmakers Vinny Magliulo and Jimmy Vaccaro.
"We walk them through the spreads," Musburger explained in an interview outside his studio. "The overs, the unders. We explain the teasers, the parlays. We try to give them (gamblers) a little more information."
It’s stuff he couldn’t really say when calling a Michigan-Ohio State game. But now Musburger is the front man for My Guys in the Desert, a term that used to be his subtle signature during games to indicate whether bettors may have won or lost on what would otherwise look like late, meaningless points scored in the game.
"He’s the perfect guy for this," said Musburger’s nephew Brian, who helped spearhead the venture. "He loves what he’s doing. He’s having fun out here and that’s what sports betting should be. You have a little action on the game. It makes it a little more exciting. We’re all out here having a little fun."
"Listen," Brent Musburger surmised, "most bettors are recreational betters. And if you want to be $20 on your favorite team, that’s fine. Obviously we’ve got guys who bet $20,000 on their favorite team."
"I don’t have the courage to do that," he admitted with a smile.
But Musburger did have the courage to help his nephew/attorney Brian launch what they’re counting on to become big business.
"It was about eight years ago. I came out to Las Vegas with Brent and met a guy named Jimmy Vaccaro," Brian recalled. "And I was just a fly on the wall for this conversation with Brent and Jimmy. And I knew then the conversation they were having was so much better than anything on sports talk radio, that we could let people see behind the book. There’s a science to bookmaking and setting lines out here in Las Vegas."
Here’s where it really gets interesting. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule within the next couple weeks whether to legalize sports betting outside of the Silver State.
"If the Supreme Court allows New Jersey to follow in the footsteps of Nevada, then it would expand quickly to other states around the country," Brent Musburger said.
And the Musburgers believe Montana could be one of the first on that expansion list. If that’s the case, if multiple states legalize sports betting, then gamblers in those states will be hungry for betting scoop. Then the Musburgers may have hit a jackpot with their one-of-a-kind, nationwide advice on Sirius-XM Channel 204.
"You’re hearing directly from the guys setting the lines," said Brian Musburger. "There’s not a lot of those guys in the country. There’s maybe seven or eight guys that truly set the lines."
Brent Musburger admits he’s always appreciated the small bets, 20 bucks or so. But now that he lives in Henderson, he admits the enjoyment has lost some of its appeal.
"You know what’s interesting about that? Because it’s there every day and you see it, it’s nothing special," he said. "When you travel in here, like I always did for three or four weekends every year, then you’ve got to run up and make this bet, and bet that game and bet this game. So, you find yourself not being attracted to betting every day, if that makes any sense."
It makes perfect sense. This way he keeps his house, but still pacifies the gambling tug by helping enthusiasts make the right call.