Las Vegas inaugural class of Sports Gambling Hall of Fame inducted at Circa

Sports betting legends Billy Baxter, Jack Franzi, Jackie Gaughan, Bob Martin, Roxy Roxborough, Scotty Schettler, Jimmy Vaccaro, Billy Walters, Charles McNeil and Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal were inducted into the Sports Gambling Hall of Fame at Circa Resort & Casino.

Located in an enclave within the world’s largest sportsbook, the new space honors bookmakers and bettors who have notably transformed the sports gambling industry. The inaugural 2023 class also included in memoriam inductees Gaughan, Franzi, Martin, McNeil and Rosenthal, who were represented by their respective family members. 

The induction ceremony took place during an event at Bet Bash, the professional sports betting networking conference. Each inductee was memorialized within the sportsbook with a plaque featuring their name, induction class year and biography.

Circa’s CEO Derek Stevens; Circa’s vice president of operations, Mike Palm; and Gadoon “Spanky” Kyrollos, founder of the Sports Gambling Hall of Fame and Bet Bash conducted the induction ceremony.

Among the esteemed inductees is Billy Baxter, a renowned professional sports bettor and poker player. Baxter is perhaps best known for his instrumental role in staking Stu Ungar’s $10,000 buy-in for the 1997 World Series of Poker Main Event, a venture that Ungar impressively won for a record-tying third time.

His multifaceted career spanning poker, sports betting, and boxing management has earned him recognition as a figure to admire in the industry.

Another significant figure inducted is Michael “Roxy” Roxborough, a pioneering oddsmaker who revolutionized the field during the 1980s and 1990s. Roxborough introduced the innovative use of mathematical formulas and computer models in bookmaking, leading to his prominence as one of America’s foremost oddsmakers.

His influence extended even further with his role as co-founder of “America’s Line,” a betting odds column that reached a vast readership of 128 newspapers.

Scotty Schettler is a distinguished addition to the Hall of Fame, having held the position of sportsbook director at the iconic Stardust. Notably, Schettler played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Stardust lottery, a pioneering initiative that enabled individuals to bet on opening lines at specific times.

His contributions helped democratize the process of sports betting, offering everyone a fair chance to participate.

A key figure that accelerated the growth of sports betting in Las Vegas, Jimmy Vaccaro, will also be honored. Vaccaro’s career trajectory includes instrumental roles at the Barbary Coast and The Mirage, where he played a vital part in expanding sports betting across the city.

He even dared to take action on a historic upset, allowing bets on Mike Tyson’s unexpected loss to Buster Douglas despite Tyson’s staggering 42-1 favorite odds.

Billy Walters joins the distinguished list, recognized as one of the most accomplished sports bettors in history. His remarkable 36-year winning streak stands as a testament to his expertise and acumen in the field.

Walters was a prominent member of the Computer Group, a renowned sports betting syndicate that made waves in the 1980s by being among the first to utilize mathematical formulas and computer models for sports betting.

The Sports Gambling Hall of Fame also pays tribute to those who have left a lasting impact through their legacies. Figures such as Jack Franzi, an influential oddsmaker, and Jackie Gaughan, who pioneered the concept of a casino sportsbook, are remembered for their significant contributions.

Additionally, Bob Martin’s excellence in oddsmaking during the 1960s and 1970s is acknowledged, as is the innovation brought about by Charles McNeil, credited with inventing and popularizing the point spread and teasers.

The late Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal, a pro sports bettor and casino executive immortalized in the film “Casino,” is also honored. His transformation of the Stardust’s race and sportsbook into a hub of activity and innovation earned him a place in the annals of gambling history.

Rules and regulations for the Sports Gambling Hall of Fame were created and voted on by an advisory board consisting of 16 members, all of whom have spent much of their lives in the sports gambling industry.

Over the past several months, the board met, discussed and voted on the development of the inaugural class. A 75 percent approval rating was needed for an individual’s induction to pass.

The world’s largest sportsbook at Circa rises three stories high and features a massive, 78-million-pixel, high-definition screen. The book is operated by Derek Stevens’ sports betting brand, Circa Sports.