Betting on sports hasn’t been high-stakes or accessible. But with the invasion of Europe-based businesses in the sport, the pros are feeling pumped and getting banned from plying their trade. Is this the end of the professional sports bettor?
I’m not a bookmaker,” Gadoon Kyrollos tells me as we stroll through the Hard Rock Casino in Atlantic City, playing penny slot machines. “I’m a sports bettor.” Kyrollos is one of the highest-rolling sports bettors in the USA. He bets millions of dollars every year from NFL matches, on sporting occasions to the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. He is known throughout the world by the name Spanky, also in back pack, sweatpants, and his hoodie, he very much looks like a 40-year-old version of the Rascal. His back pack is not carrying snacks and school books. It is full of bricks of cash.
“Bookmakers hang a number,” he explains, as he pantomimes holding a gun sight as much as his attention and pulling the trigger. “And that I snipe’em”
Despite the bag full of money, the penny slot machine transfixs Spanky, pumping one bill after the following. On his cellphone he consults a recorder which tells him how to play this specific machine so that it’s”and EV,” or positive expected value, meaning that the player has an advantage over the machine over time. “Here is some real insider shit I am showing you right here,” he tells me, referring to his dictionary, that has formulas for dozens of slot machines plugged in to it. “I mean, it’s probably a border of, like, $12, but in case you were walking down the street and watched $12, you would bend down and pick it up, right?”
It’s very important to Spanky that I know the gap between bookmaking and betting, since a lot of people don’t know or appreciate the distinction, such as the Queens district attorney, that charged Spanky with bookmaking in 2012, a charge he states stemmed from a widespread misunderstanding of this enterprise.

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