Saturday, Aug. 25, 2007 | 7:32 a.m.
On the Web: For more information or to register for the seminar, visit www.vegasinsider.com/handicapping-seminar/2007
Shameless plug: I will be part of a media panel at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday. Other participants: John Kelly, Dave Tuley, Sid Rosenberg, Kevin Rogers, Steve Cofield, John Hanson and Dave Cokin.
Don't expect to find much talk about the travails of the offshore gambling business at next week's big football betting symposium at the Red Rock Resort.
Don't come looking for in-depth discussions on the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act or the pros and cons of sending money to a bookie in Belize.
Instead, you can pick the brains of oddsmakers, gamblers and professional handicappers on subjects such as their forecast for this college football season, NFL future-book betting and who really creates the opening line.
The 2007 Vegas Insider Football Handicapping Seminar, free to the public and featuring a strong lineup of sports betting figures from Nevada and out of state, is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Monday and Tuesday at Red Rock's G and H reception halls.
The seminar's target audience is sports bettors, from beginners to experts, rather than industry insiders. Most of the seminar's sessions will focus on various aspects of the upcoming football season, college and pro.
"My thinking was, anybody out there who is into sports betting, this seminar is for you," said Peter Gold, executive vice president and general manager of Vegas Insider. "This is not an industry seminar. It's an event for sports gamblers.
"We're focusing on the nuts and bolts of handicapping the football season as it relates to the legal sports betting scene in Nevada."
More than 250 people have signed up for the seminar, exceeding Gold's projection of 75 to 125 by this point. Registration at the Vegas Insider Web site (vegasinsider.com) is available through Sunday.
Although the seminar is free, registering ensures you won't get turned away at the door if the event fills up.
"The response has been overwhelming," Gold said. "It's a free event. There's no hidden agenda. We're not asking for anybody's credit card, none of that (malarkey). We just want it to be a good exchange of valuable information on sports betting.
"I think we're really filling a void in the marketplace."
The seminar marks Vegas Insider's return to conducting public sports betting symposiums after an absence of several years. Previous seminars, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, spotlighted football and basketball handicapping.
A major offshore sports betting operation then sponsored an annual betting conference in Las Vegas for a couple of years, although those events focused more on gaming industry trends than actual sports handicapping for Las Vegas bettors.
Those seminars came to an abrupt end when the political culture in the country turned hostile to offshore betting companies.
That set the stage for Vegas Insider, whose Web site provides a wealth of free sports betting information along with links to handicappers selling their picks, to reenter the field.
The roster of speakers at the conference includes sports handicappers with no ties to Vegas Insider, such as Tim Trushel, Ted Sevransky and Erin Rynning, and others from the site's stable, including Andy Iskoe, Mark Franco and James Manos.
"We didn't want it to be just an advertisement for Vegas Insider," Gold said. "We just wanted to put together a collection of guys who are really smart and good at what they do."
Gold said he purposely did not set up a "green room" at Red Rock for the featured guests, so they should be accessible to the public.
Because many sports handicappers are iconoclastic by nature, with strongly held opinions, it's a good bet there will be plenty of spirited debate on most of the seminar's panels.
"Part of it is an experiment," Gold said. "It's like I'm putting a test tube up there and hoping it doesn't explode in my face."