Monday, January 17, 2011

Salt Of The Earth

If you want to be reminded how far CBS News' franchise, 60 Minutes, has fallen roughly the past 10-15 years, you can do worse than read the transcript (here) or view the video (below) of the segment presented by part-time correspondent Lara Logan. It is a little bit of a fluff piece but Las Vegas needs an infomercial and Logan is 60 Minutes' unofficial hottie, so I guess it's O.K. Some excerpts:

When it comes to gambling, everybody knows the house has the advantage. But there are some high rollers who consistently win, and it's hard to find anyone better at winning than Billy Walters.

He bets on football and basketball, is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and has been so successful that many Las Vegas bookmakers are afraid to even take his bets....

And there's no bigger bettor than Walters. But you'll never see him betting. He has anonymous partners in the sports books who bet for him and for themselves. They take their instructions from Walters.

He's holed up in his home office, with his phones and computers. On a Sunday morning in December, just an hour before the first NFL kick-off, he looks more like a stock broker than a gambler, checking the numbers and phoning his bet orders to his partners in the sports books.

"Okay, I need up to 250 on Green Bay, up to 150 on Cleveland," he instructed one of his partners over the phone.

That's $400,000 he's betting on just two NFL games.

"Where do you see the Charger total?" Walters asked. "Look at 46 only for up to 40,000. 146, up to 140,000. Game 132, where do you see the Cowboy total? 51 and a half only for up to 30,000."

"How much money did you just bet?" Logan asked.

"Let's see, 225, 325, 525, 550, 750, 900, 11- 1230, 1270, 1370 - it's a million, 370,000, plus 10 percent. That's how much I risk," he replied after a quick glance at a sheet of figures.

"Average Sunday morning of football?" Logan asked.

"Yeah, and again, who knows? I would say that before the day's over, I'll probably end up with, I don't know, maybe $2 million at risk," he replied.

Over the years, people have spied on Walters and even rifled through his trash, trying to learn what teams he is betting on and how much he is betting. To protect his operation from prying eyes, Walters has become obsessed with security and secrecy. All of his partners use code names, like "J-Bird" and "Wolfman...."

"Yeah, I had a pretty bad day. The net loss, I lost $257,200," he explained. "I could lose again today, I could lose again next week, I've had losing weeks, I've had losing months."

But he told Logan he's never had a losing year. And in sports betting, that is unprecedented....

All his winnings have made Walters a very rich man. He lives large, like a corporate titan. He and his wife Susan travel in a brand new jet worth $20 million that they use to travel to their seven homes....

Walters joined a now infamous syndicate called the "Computer Group," which revolutionized sports betting in the 1980s by feeding data into computers. The group made so much money that authorities thought they were running an illegal bookmaking operation. Later, Walters was also accused of money laundering and having connections to the mob....

(Walters was indicted four times but) None of the charges stuck and Walters went on to build his own betting business. He became better than the bookmakers at predicting which team would win and by what margin....

Walters has built an empire from his gambling. And at the age of 64, he isn't slowing down. He owns four golf courses, eight car dealerships and a ton of stock.

Along the way, we learn that Walters has given millions to charity and has lost "quite a bit of money," as he puts it, on Enron, WorldCom, and Tyco stock. Quite an adoring report on behalf of one of the privileged few the President and congressional Republicans cannot do enough for.

Fortunately, President Obama was able to overcome the "professional left," the "moaning of Congressional liberals," as well as the "infantile leftism" of Democrats generally to get those deserving guys like Billy Walters a tax break. After all, they are the country's "job producers," creating jobs for productive guys like J-Bird and Wolfman. The lowest 40% of the nation's taxpayers will have to ante up more money than before, but who could be more deserving of a tax break than Billy Walters and his middle-class colleagues?


the computer group sports betting said...

they made millions doing this ? I only wish I could win a few hundred lol.

Just Jake said...

Why watch 60 Minutes or give it publicity for that matter?

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