Vinny Magliulo (l.) has a long history in sports betting but according to Richard Schuetz, his greatest attributes are his honesty and integrity. If that’s the lesson he could teach to young participants in the industry, that would be the ultimate goal.


“If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.”—Alan K. Simpson

I started in the gambling business in the early 1970s, working for Bill Harrah in Reno. I was a college student at the time and needed the money – and the money at Harrahs was good. Moreover, I could work nights which allowed me to attend classes during the day. What this now means is I am essentially in my 50th year in the gambling business.

It seems I now often find that I am speaking to people in the gambling industry who were not yet alive when I entered the business. At times, this feels strange. I also seem to be spending more and more time reflecting upon the changes I have seen in our business.

I look at the gambling business through many different lenses. One is as an economist, and that is motivated by having spent many years in universities being indoctrinated by the “dismal science.” The other lens is as a historian, for in working on a Ph. D. dissertation addressing the development of the Nevada gambling regulatory model from 1945-66, I was tremendously dependent upon a great many historical sources, including the wonderful oral history collection I found at the University of Nevada, Reno. This collection contained many of the stories of the early pioneers in Nevada gambling and its regulation.

I also was lucky to spend many hours towards the end of his life with Ed Olsen, chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board for the period of 1961-1966. I had spent much of a summer with Ed during a time when his health was quickly deteriorating while working to understand the evolution of the Nevada regulatory model. I then returned to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City to work on our project. As soon as I heard that the end was near for Ed, I rushed back to Reno to say goodbye. When I got to the hospital, he was being administered his last rites, and when he saw me, he motioned for me to approach him. I placed my ear near his mouth and he told me I had made mistake in a draft about Jimmy Hoffa and the Teamsters loans. Later, the priest mentioned to me that it was the first time he had ever had last rites interrupted to discuss the mob.

Because of my age and background, I tend to look at the industry from a very long-term vantage point. The things I have been focusing upon of late are the changes that are currently taking place in our business. I often find developments that I applaud—and I sometimes find developments that bother me.

My appreciation of gambling’s history has led me to have initiated an effort to develop a book that will share the stories of a few of the sports wagering legends. I suspect I look back at the past times in the evolution of sports betting with a certain degree of romance and nostalgia, and I have been lucky to know and work with many of the people who shaped the early days of the legal betting industry. It seems it was a simpler time, and the business was exciting. Nevada was the only state that offered real sports betting and the money in this sphere was serious and we took very large wagers. I have wanted to ensure these times and these people are not forgotten, and that is the purpose of the book effort.

In discussing this book with others, a name that is continually mentioned for inclusion is Vinny Magliulo, a gentleman who continues a long and storied career in the betting space. I recently had the opportunity to meet up with Vinny in New York City, at the 40/40 Club, during the recent SBC event there.

Vinny and I were in a very crowded room and Vinny was essentially the only one in the room who was wearing a mask. Vinny mentioned the mask and said he hoped it was not making it difficult to hear him. I told him I could hear him well. He then said that when he told his daughter he was traveling to the East Coast for a conference that she made him promise to always wear a mask—and Vinny promised.

It was at this moment a notion hit me, and that was the notion that one of the attributes which was truly a part of the earlier days in betting was the integrity of the people involved. They all had their good days and bad, but generally, they understood the importance of being honorable. They were all in a very small ecosystem and to survive they needed to adhere to a basic code, and that code was to do what you said you were going to do. His daughter was thousands of miles away and Vinny could have just as easily put his mask in his pocket, as everyone else in the room had. But he didn’t. In New York City, Vinny was demonstrating honor before my eyes by keeping a promise he had made to his daughter. When it came to demonstrating his true character, Vinny was walking the walk.

A great many people are entering the sports betting business in the United States these days, and it would be great if they were to learn the most important aspect of the business from Vinny. That, of course, is to make your word your bond and always do your best to honor it. It may not seem like an important consideration right now, but trust me, once you get 40 or 50 years under your belt, you will find it is the most important thing there is. Just ask Vinny.

Better yet, ask Vinny’s daughter.

Articles by Author: Richard Schuetz

Richard Schuetz started dealing blackjack for Bill Harrah 47 years ago, and has traveled the world as a casino executive, educator and regulator. He is sincerely appreciative of the help he received from his friends and colleagues throughout the gaming world in developing this article, understanding that any and all errors are his own.