Spanky, his gang and the Sports Gambling Hall of Fame

Bet on it: Kyrollos works with Circa Sportsbook owner to launch homage to sports bettors.

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 Gadoon “Spanky” Kyrollo

Gadoon “Spanky” Kyrollos and “Captain Jack” Andrews are a pair of successful sports-betting veterans.

Gaming Today

LAS VEGAS — Spanky sought help in locating relatives of the late Charles K. McNeil, a former University of Chicago professor who hatched football’s point spread.

In 1981, at the age of 77, the Chicago native died in Florida. He was buried in Virginia. We profiled him here June 25, 2022, but all lineage leads evaporated, I informed Spanky several months ago.

In the gambling industry, Gadoon Kyrollos is universally known as Spanky. Creating the Sports Gambling Hall of Fame, to be housed inside Circa’s sportsbook, led him to McNeil’s near-branchless family tree.

Spanky aims to honor each inaugural inductee by inviting that person — or, if deceased, a relative or two — to a special dinner.

He found a McNeil granddaughter and a distant cousin. Both will attend the festivities at BetBash 3 at Circa in August.

“Where there’s a will,” the 45-year-old Spanky told me, “there’s a way.”

His successful excavation highlights the dogged diligence and resourcefulness of one of sports betting’s most prominent figures, who on occasion challenges the arrogance and prevarications of industry executives.

In Circa owner Derek Stevens, Spanky befriended a kindred spirit unafraid of risk. Circa Sports is the rare shop that welcomes Spanky.

“The only place in Nevada, pretty much, that shows you on the wall its house limits,” Spanky said. “NFL Sundays, you can bet $200,000 on a game, sometimes more. And you can walk through the casino and shake the owner’s hand. Derek wants to be in the midst of it all. I don’t know of any other casino where that takes place.”

TEN STEPS AHEAD

A lifelong New Jersey resident, Spanky had staged the first BetBash at The Ashford in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 2021. More than 220 people packed the place to network, share ideas and forge friendships, “to create synergies,” he said.

Regarding the impressive showing, Spanky added, “And just for a one-night event.”

That inspired him to ask Stevens about having Circa play host to BetBash 2, which it did in April 2022. Its resounding success begat BetBash 3, Aug. 8-11.

Post-BetBash 2, Spanky honed his Hall of Fame ideas and presented them to Circa sportsbook director Matt Metcalf. They polished the itinerary and approached Stevens last September.

“As soon as we started talking about it, Derek just started smiling,” Metcalf said. “It was right up his alley.”

Spanky added, “When [Stevens] sees something he likes, and it makes sense, he’s all for it.”

Circa is a natural hall site, since its 60th-floor rooftop Legacy Club features metallic-bust tributes to Las Vegas pioneers, like casino owners Kirk Kerkorian and Steve Wynn, and bookmakers Bob Martin and Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal.

Stevens and Spanky are similar. Metcalf didn’t disagree, especially in work ethic, vision and positive thinking, in terms of believing what they can accomplish with the proper mindset.

“Both are old-school guys who believe in the handshake, honoring your word and doing the right thing,” Metcalf said. “I think Spanky has great appreciation for how sports betting operated over the past 40 to 50 years, and how it looks today.

“Derek is the same way.”

Spanky assembled a 16-member panel of experts — South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews and lieutenant Vinny Magliulo, longtime betting scribe Richard Scheutz, author Arne Lang, et al — who vote.

Neither Spanky nor Stevens are on the panel, eliminating potential conflicts.

A candidate must receive 75% approval to be inducted.

Via BetBash’s Twitter page, Spanky has revealed that Martin, Rosenthal, Jackie Gaughan, Roxy Roxborough and Billy Walters comprise half of the hall’s first class.

He allowed me to break the news of McNeil’s induction. Tap Spanky’s site, or the hall’s, for the final four revelations.

“Spanky plays a game that is 10 steps ahead of everybody else, kind of what Derek does,” Metcalf said. “Derek relies on his people to execute the same way Spanky relies on his corps of guys to execute.”

MAYBE ONE DAY . . .

Spanky lives in Freehold, New Jersey, with his wife and four kids. Kyrollos was first called that when he was 11. It’s his Twitter handle, accompanied by a photo of tyke actor George McFarland from the “Our Gang” TV show.

With decades of street savvy, and dual Rutgers degrees in computer science and finance, he oversees an operation consisting of five traders, computer models and technology that regularly moves millions of dollars in global markets.

He developed SpankOdds, free aggregator software that displays color-coded, ever-changing odds from worldwide books.

It has experienced glitches, even Wednesday, but Spanky has a quick maintenance crew.

“My staff uses it, so it went from five to 1,000 overnight,” Spanky said. “We didn’t expect that. It’s been pretty stable as of late, knock on wood.”

Machines make the business far too impersonal, he said, which was another BetBash impetus. And when a bettor sees the SGHOF, Spanky hopes there’s a spark.

“If you’re going to place a bet in the sportsbook and you see, Whoa, there’s a Sports Gambling Hall of Fame! ‘Maybe one day I could be good enough to be a Hall of Famer, and here’s my first bet. I’m on my way to that journey.’

“So it’ll be a motivator, too.”

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