Gary Austin is an old school tout that Sports Illustrated did a 4,300 word article on in 1980 and that same year he appeared on NBC’s Today Show with Tom Brokaw. The media portrayed him as a sports betting god and many paid $100 to $150 (a lot of money in 1980) to purchase his picks. If you think Gary Austin just retired in the mid 1980’s and disappeared, you’re wrong. Actually, he went on to run Gary Austin’s Sportsbook on the Las Vegas Strip which he claims was robbed, but most feel he lost players phone-in bank deposits gambling on Game 6 of the 1985 World Series. His sports book closing down and stiffing players for over $1 million dollars is what many feel put the nail in the coffin for independent Las Vegas bookmakers.
Today Austin is a multi-millionaire believed to have made his fortune offering sports betting to Americans via offshore locations. The most famous offshore sportsbook he is (or was) associated with is Tradewinds Sportsbook, a credit shop clients now access via trdwd.com. Back in the early 1990’s Tradewinds became one of the first sportsbooks to operate from Costa Rica. Today, to get an account with trdwd.com you need to know an agent or bookie. However, www.justbet.cx is a gambling website with roots tied to Tradewinds, here any American who visits their website can open an account.
The Full Gary Austin Story
Gary Austin was born as Clarence Gary Austin in Three Rivers, Michigan in the 1940’s to parents who were devout Methodists and owned and operated a funeral polar. The use of a middle name as first was a long family tradition, and one he’s since passed to his own son. As a child Gary Austin’s sport of choice was baseball, and he was so interested in it he’d keep box scores, RBI’s, walk totals and other stats for his backyard games between faithfully following his favourite professional team the Detroit Tigers. On track to make his parents proud Austin received good marks in school and eventually attended Michigan State. During his two years at university he won a handful of junior golf tournaments, and his sophomore year was the Michigan State Ping-Pong champion.
During his junior year at university, Gary Austin lost interest in his studies, accepted a position with Continental Can Corporation and married his high school sweetheart Judy. The two had two children together Kimberly (Kim) born in 1968 and Michael (Troy) in 1970. In 1969 Continental Can promoted him to West Coast manager of sales, service and distribution and the Austin’s then made their home in Mission Viejo, California.
Gary Austin Discovers Sports Betting
According Garry Austin, a friend introduced him to sports betting in 1971 and he won $200 his first week and $700 his second week betting with a bookie. Once he seen that bookies actually paid, he began taking betting seriously. Austin already had a passion for statistics, predicting games, knowing his favourite team’s chances etc. that he developed and maintained as a hobby since grade school. After a couple years honing his skills and learning important lessons about bankroll management he became rather confident his family could live on his income from sports betting. When amazingly his wife didn’t object, he quit Continental Can to pursue a career as a professional sports bettor.
According to Austin (and keep in mind this is coming from a man who was paid to sell sports picks), by 1974 Southern California bookies owed him over $100,000 and it was near impossible to find enough local action to meet his limits. To handle this he set up a syndicate that involved four different bettors working as a team. These four would take turns flying to Nevada on weekends as well as calling in bets to bookies on the East Coast. In 1975 however, when a larger bookie got arrested Garry Austin was charged with a crime for the first time in his life; his crime was “placing a bet”. Frustrated with the archaic laws of the Golden State, in June 1977 he relocated to Las Vegas, Nevada. Here he purchased a home off the strip not too far from Wayne Newton’s ranch and in a location where then Las Vegas headline entertainers Sergio Franchi, Bobbie Gentry, Jerry Vale and Robert Goulet were his neighbours. The home cost $300,000 of which Austin claims he paid $250,000 as a down payment in cash.
The Austin Edge
In the fall of 1978 the first ever Castaways Pro Football Handicappers Championship took place. In case you’re not aware Castaways Hotel and Casino was Las Vegas strip property that was replaced by the Mirage in 1987. In the 1970’s Castaways was a Mecca for serious sports gamblers, because it was their sportsbook called “Hole on the Wall” that the great late Sonny Reizner created football proposition bets. These were hugely popular and all the “who is who” of football betting frequented this casino to get these props and put them on their own parlay cards. Their first handicapping championship spanned the 1978/79 NFL football season and attracted 56 high stakes gamblers each posting up a $1,000 buy-in. Gary Austin dominated the contest winning 62% of his picks; 4% higher than second place. By mid season dozens of gamblers walked into Castaways each hour for two reasons 1) to get their NFL props and 2) to see who Garry Austin had picked.
Capitalizing on the following, Gary Austin rented a portioned-room at 5030 Paradise Road where he established Austin Edge, Ltd. He then took out full page newspaper ads (shown in this old newspaper clip) that touted his Castaways victory. In these ads he offered to send a copy of his 1978 I.R.S. form which declares NET gambling earnings in excess of $100,000 to anyone who requested it. He also offered to 2-1 odds with money posted in advanced at any Las Vegas sports book to anyone who could beat his 1978-79 Castaways winning record. The entire advertisement was for his tips service which was open 7-days per week from 8AM to 5PM PST. It cost $100 weekly to get Austin’s bets, or $150 to get his bets, his star ratings (each bet rated between 2 and 5 starts) and late breaking news.
The US Media absolutely loved Austin’s story and became an instant celebrity. On Feb 25, 1980 Sports Illustrated published an over 4300 word article about him being a master of football betting strategy, and discussed his tips service. On September 5, 1980 he appeared on the NBC’s Today Show where Tom Brokaw interviewed him claiming this was a man who wagered $30 to $50 million on sports last year. He quickly became the most known tout in the business with only his good friend Jim Feist a close competitor. How he actually did providing picks is anyone’s guess; there was no internet in the early 1980’s to contain an “Official Fade Gary Austin Thread” by TheRX. One thing is for certain though is his competitor Scott Tom who ran “The Buckeye Letter”, now called “The Steam Sheet” was never shy about publishing Austin’s results when they lost – once calling him “The Million Dollar Stiff” and this was before he actually pulled off a true million dollar stiff job, I guess those predictive skills are why Scott Tom usually had winning seasons.
Gary Austin’s Sports Book
In 1981, the Austin’s Edge expanded and in a partnership with fellow tout Jim Feist the two were able to recruit many Las Vegas sportsbooks to use their rotation, updates and line movement service which was basically a precursor to Don Best. Later that year Gary Austin probably realized his name was so big, and he was touted as the expert in setting odds that his confidence level was at an all time high. This resulted in him opening Gary Austin’s Sportsbook on Las Vegas BLVD across the street from Caesars Palace. In no time at all this became the most famous sportsbook in Nevada and who is who of the betting industry frequented it.
There are no shortages of stories regarding this sportsbook with several big name punters claiming “this is where the renegade lines could be found” or “the guy who ran this shop was a true cowboy”. In short, due to Gary Austin believing he had a massive edge on certain games, lines would move massive especially on college sports. He was also proud of the fact he’d take any action. The most famous betting syndicate ever created The Computer Group wagered here routinely betting $30,000 on a side. With how short lived this sportsbook was, and how famous it had become, – myself I can’t help but wonder why everyone hung out here. Most likely it was the easiest shop for the sharps to beat.
1985 World Series (Gary Austin Robbed Twice in a Week?)
Word on the street was Gary Austin was down big and made an all-in sized bet that the St. Louis Cardinals would win Game 6 of the 1985 World Series which took place on October 26, 1985. Anyone who watched that game knows Gary Austin was robbed due to two bad calls. The most significant came with the Cardinals leading 1-0 in the ninth. Here first base umpire Don Denkinger called the leadoff hitter Jorge Orta safe, but television replay clearly showed he was out. The Cardinals then let a popup foul fall between Clark and Porter which they paid for when there was a single on the very next pitch. A long story short the Cardinals would lose that game 2-1.
Many speculate the Cardinals losing Game 6 left Gary Austin broke. Perhaps lucky for him his sportsbook was robbed a few days later. A testimony to how things worked in Las Vegas at the time, this robbery was largely unreported by the media. It wasn’t until after his sportsbook closed on November 9, 1985 and weeks of complaints to anyone and everyone who would listen that the media finally covered it. The source that started the reporting frenzy was the Los Angeles Times who on November 24, 1985 published an article questioning what happened to the money in the phone in accounts. This article stated “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.” And then concluded with “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.”
There are no case files, media reports or anything else to be found even when digging deep I could come up with on what happened regarding the phone bank accounts. Many forum posters have shared over the years that the Nevada Gaming Commission put on a pony show hearing and nothing came of it. Metro dug around a bit in investigation, but it was a situation where none of the powers that be wanted them to find much, because Gaming was entirely clueless about the financial dealings of sports books they licensed. Perhaps discovering the $1 million in deposits was lost quite some time prior to the robbery wouldn’t have looked good for them. In any cases, Gary Austin had the highest limits and most unpredictable lines, so as a result many of who-is-who of sports betting were stiffed when his sportsbook closed, and many still pop up on forums from time to time to tell about it some 27 years after the fact.
Garry Austin After Las Vegas
A popular rumour is that Gary Austin fled to Costa Rica, immediately after closing his sportsbook in November 1985. The first problem with this theory is that Gary Austin was too big of a name in sports betting to just quit, and many clients who didn’t have deposits with him were going to continue to gamble. Costa Rica wasn’t even on the map in 1985 as a locale for sports betting (that didn’t start until 1992 to 1994). Where he actually ended up was not too far from his previous home of Los Angles where he had lived from 1969 to 1977. Operating in the Ronald Sacco neck of the woods, his bookmaking business continued illegally from Manhattan Beach California. This was until he was arrested for investigation in September 1988 for what was described by authorities as a 5-month long probe into a $1-million-a-day betting operation he, Fred Cowan, Mark Mitzenmacher and Charles Rizzuto were believed to be bookmakers for. It was this investigation that led him to flee the country from. Where he went is anyone’s guess, but in the early 1990’s he resurfaced in Costa Rica where he launched Tradewinds; a company whose lineage now spans to justbet.cx.
Where is Gary Austin Today?
Garry Austin is not at all in hiding. Already one of Costa Rica’s most influential businessmen, in 2002 he married top Costa Rican supermodel Lynda Diaz. Although minus the rich background, she’s certainly the Costa Rican equivalent of a Paris Hilton type. The two had twins together and you can see their photos in this article. Prior to their divorce in late 2009 the couple lived in an $8 million dollar mansion which overlooks the 8th hole of “Cariari Country Club”, which is the most known golf course in Costa Rica. They both remain local celebrities, and if you’re able to Google or YouTube in Spanish you can find countless photos, videos and stories including their opinions on politics, films or just about anything else. Anywhere in Costa Rica Austin or Diaz might travel the paparazzi is always close by.
On the few rare occasions where Gary Austin has been confronted about the million dollar stiff job from 1985 Las Vegas, sadly his response has been “I’m under no legal obligation to pay”. He’s a man that would have a storied life and probably be more known than Calvin Ayre in the gambling industry if it wasn’t for the Gary Austin’s Sportsbook skeleton still in his closet.