When Circa Resort & Casino in Downtown Las Vegas holds the induction ceremony of its Sports Gambling Hall of Fame on Aug. 11, the roster of the inaugural class will be filled with colorful characters.
Among them will be the likes of the late Lefty Rosenthal, a bettor and casino executive who survived a Las Vegas car bombing, and Billy Walters, recognized as the greatest sports gambler of all-time who has been both a philanthropist and convicted for conspiring to commit insider trading.
Of the 10 inductees, about half are deceased and some of the others are removed from gambling. However, one of them, Billy Baxter, was making noise this summer at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.
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Baxter Now in Two Halls
In fact, Baxter can lay claim to being a member of both the WSOP Poker Hall of Fame and now, Circa’s Sports Gambling Hall of Fame.
Baxter, whose age is listed as an “about” (as in “about 83”), finished second in this year’s WSOP Seniors Event. That runner-up finish was worth about $473,000. It was Baxter’s biggest single cash haul in a career that has seen him win seven WSOP bracelets. His first was 48 years ago.
This summer at the Seniors event, which is open to players age 50 and older, Baxter was down to two big blinds at one point. Two big blinds is akin to almost being out of the tournament, so his comeback was epic.
However, Baxter’s gambling influence goes beyond being a durable poker master. The native of Augusta, Georgia, who resides in Las Vegas, has had substantial influence on the sports gambling world in introducing halftime betting as sports gamblers know it today.
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Baxter Known For Government Suit
Still another major contribution Baxter made in gambling was prevailing in a lawsuit against the federal government. In 1986, Baxter sued the government for a tax refund involving $178,000. Baxter argued that as a professional gambler, he was engaged in a “trade or business” and his income should be taxed at a rate that reflected the nature of his livelihood.
In short, Baxter won the case both in the initial trial and in appeals court.
The Sports Gambling Hall of Fame is the climax of several days of sports betting presentations and networking called Bet Bash being held at Circa, Aug. 8-11.
Along with Baxter, Rosenthal and Walters, the other inductees in the Hall of Fame are Jackie Gaughan, Jack Franzi, Bob Martin, Charles McNeil, Roxy Roxborough, Scotty Schettler, and Jimmy Vaccaro.
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Bill Ordine was a reporter and editor in news and sports for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Baltimore Sun for 25 years, and was a lead reporter on a team that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News. Bill started reporting on casinos and gaming shortly after Atlantic City’s first gambling halls opened and wrote a syndicated column on travel to casino destinations for 10 years. He covered the World Series of Poker for a decade and his articles on gaming have appeared in many major U.S. newspapers, such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald and others.