08/11/2004 12:00AM

Olympics bets? Not in the books


When sports book directors call your mild-mannered Las Vegas correspondent, it's usually to get the word out about a special promotion or something they want you to come check out on their betting boards.

So, it's been a noticeable change the past few weeks, as I've received requests from these directors to tell DRF readers not to come to the sports books to bet something. The Summer Olympics from Athens, Greece, start this weekend, but don't look for odds on the betting boards in Nevada sports books.

Back in February 2001, when the state was fighting the Amateur Sports Integrity Act in our nation's capital and arguing to keep college sports betting, a proactive step was taken to outlaw wagering on high school sports and the Olympics. No betting has ever taken place on prep sports in the legal books here, so that was a token gesture, but the decision was made to take off the Olympics.

Offshore sports books are under no such regulations, however, and odds can be found all over the Internet.

The Olympic (no relation) sports book has the U.S. men's basketball team, despite its struggle in exhibition play, as the -210 favorite (risk $2.10 for every $1 you want to win) to win the gold medal. Argentina and Lithuania are the co-second choices at 6-1.

BetWWTS has a separate prop where you can bet exactly how the U.S. team will fare: gold medal is -300, silver medal is at 2-1, bronze at 6-1, and no medal at 5-2.

If you feel the U.S. team has gotten the losses out of its system, you can get +110 at BetWWTS.com that the team will go undefeated. You have to lay -140 if you think the team won't win all of its games.

The U.S. women's basketball team is seen as more of a lock by oddsmakers. Pinnacle has our lady hoopsters as the 1-5 favorite, and BoDog has them at 1-8.

But basketball isn't the only sport on the menu. No American is favored in any of the boxing divisions at Olympic; super heavyweight Jason Estrada was given the best chance as the 7-2 second choice behind Russia's Alexandre Povetkin.

For anyone interesting in track and field, you can find odds on just about every event, and even how many medals track star Marion Jones will win (no medals is -600, one medal is 8-5, two medals is 5-1, and more than two is 10-1). You can get 10-1 at BetWWTS if you think U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps will win seven gold medals; it's -2,000 if you think he won't.

For the cynics who think that performance-enhancing drugs have ruined Olympic competition, there's a wager at BetWWTS that asks which country will be first to have an athlete fail a post-competition drug test: China is the 5-1 favorite, followed by Russia at 8-1, and the U.S. in a group at 15-1 with Australia, Germany, and South Korea.

Crazy sports bettors see the Shrink

A group that is well-versed in the world of offshore betting is in town this weekend. The second annual RX Bash, hosted by theprescription.com (or therx.com for short), is being held at the Golden Nugget with a party Friday night and a poker tournament Saturday.

Website founder Kenneth Weitzner (better known by his online moniker, The Shrink) was also scheduled to host a watchdog panel Thursday night in an attempt to come up with some rules and guidelines for the offshore industry, or at least for watchdog websites that attempt to work as advocates for online gamblers.

Tournament circuit heads to Reno

With the Bally's Summer Stakes tournament behind us, the next big handicapping tournament in Nevada will be the September Shootout on Sept. 11-12 at the Reno Hilton.

It's a live-money tournament in which entrants pay $200 towards the prize pool and then make $300 in parimutuel wagers at the windows each day. Players get to keep any tickets they cash and compete for prizes.

As opposed to contests that require players to bet win only or win-place-show, this one makes it as close to a regular day at the races as possible, with no restrictions on what kind of wagers can be made, including multi-race wagers. Also, for the first time under this format, $1 combinations will be allowed.

In addition to their winnings, the top four finishers will qualify for the $1 Million Horseplayers World Series set for Jan. 27-29 at The Orleans in Las Vegas.

The Shootout will also bet the last event at the Reno Hilton for tournament coordinator Steve Fierro, who has accepted a job in the marketing, advertising, and promotions department at the Casino Fandango in nearby Carson City.

"I'll still be doing the same thing with my handicapping and radio show, but I'm just moving my tack over to the Casino Fandango," Fierro said.

World Series of Poker leads pack

The "American Casino" is on hiatus on the Discovery Channel and "The Casino" on Fox returns with a new episode Monday, but while they both have their fans and detractors, the best Vegas-based reality TV show is the World Series of Poker on ESPN.

While ESPN has been showing WSOP events the past month, the first episode of what they're calling "The Main Event," the $10,000 buy-in Championship Event, begins Tuesday night and has a new episode every week, with the final table being shown in a two-hour special on Sept. 14.

The participants are not actors (well, except for a few celebrities who were in the field and eliminated in the opening weekend) and either earned their way in qualifying tournaments or put up $10,000 to get in the game. They are real poker players playing for real money, and that makes for real drama, as opposed to a lot of "reality" shows, where the participants are playing to the camera.