LAS VEGAS — A sports book that closed after a robbery on a busy football betting weekend left angry bettors holding unpaid winning tickets and unanswered questions about what happened to more than $1 million in phone accounts on deposit by big gamblers.
The closure of Gary Austin's Sports Book on the Las Vegas Strip not only left bettors with winning tickets they could not cash, but also put into jeopardy the phone accounts, some of which were jammed with tens of thousands of dollars in cash.
Many sports book operators also believe the tale of gamblers not being paid their winnings has seriously damaged a fast-growing industry just starting to shed a bandit image.
"It definitely gives a black eye to the industry," said Vic Salerno, president of the Nevada Assn. of Race and Sports Book Operators.
Austin's closed Nov. 9 after a lone bandit robbed it of an estimated $267,000 in cash, much of it from wagers made on that weekend's football games.
Although owner Gary Austin had taken in a reported $1 million in phone account deposits, he closed the book after the robbery, apparently unable to pay off winning tickets.