“No money will change hands and it’s purely for entertainment,” says John Avello, director of race and sports book operations at the Wynn Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“But people are going to have a lot of fun with it, because it is without doubt America’s premier dog sporting event and has a huge following.”
“We are thrilled to be on the sport book board along with the Oscars, the Super Bowl, NCAA basketball and all other major events that are so much a part of our culture,” said David Frei, Director of Communications for the Westminster Kennel Club in New York.
Last year during the two-day event, the Westminster Kennel Club had a record 127 million hits on its website as people from more than 140 different countries watched the breed judging on streaming video.
“Now, not only are dog lovers able to get involved and judge from outside the ring and pick their own favorites, but with the show on a sport book, they have the opportunity to have a vested interest at heart to see who wins,” Frei said.
“When it comes to working out the odds, it’s all about instinct, intuition and networking,” said Avello, known in Las Vegas as The Wizard of Odds. “And there’s no doubt having a math background helps. When I do my Oscar odds, I talk to Hollywood insiders and get what they’re thinking, and the same applies to other events like the Grammys and TV shows such as American Idol and The Apprentice. But having worked out the odds for Westminster, I now truly understand the meaning of ‘the underdog’!”
Since opening in 2005, the Wynn Las Vegas has earned the reputation of being one of Sin City’s most luxurious sports books, boasting 37 plasma TVs and three 12-foot-by-12-foot big screens. Its executive staff are also renowned dog lovers. Owner Steve Wynn brings his dogs to work, and Avello confesses to being a besotted pet parent to a West Highland terrier named Piccolo and a white cocker spaniel named Bacio.
“Dog lovers have such a spiritual and emotional connection with their dogs that if you own a particular breed, you automatically have a vested interest when those dogs come into the ring,” Frei said.
“The recent rise of the Yorkie proves that many modern dog owners prefer a portable, pint-sized pet that fits their modern, fast-paced lifestyle,” AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson said. “Not since the Boston terrier hit the top nearly 70 years ago has a small breed worked its way to such a high spot on the list.”
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Now that Westminster is on the sports book in Vegas, will doggy-betting fever spread to other parts of the world? Both the online betting giant Betfair.com and William Hill, the prestigious London-based forecasting firm, say that in the past they have accepted bets on the Crufts Dog Show, but they have no plans to put Westminster on their board.
So for now, the standard maxim still applies: What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
For more information, call 702-770-3072 or email John Avello at .