Indiana Daily Student

Alumnus uncovers gambling business

Chad Millman would've taken a job with the trade magazine Trash, the reputable serial documenting the garbage industry. But they turned him down.\nAs did the glass industry's periodical.\n"They told me I'm the worst typer ever," Millman said from his home in New York.\nSo Millman, a 1993 alumnus armed with degrees in journalism and political science, settled for the athletics trade magazine, Sports Illustrated, thanks to a little persistence and luck.\nThrough a chance meeting with then-SI senior writer Rick Telander, Millman got his chance to write for America's dominant sports magazine.\n º"I met Rick Telander at a gym outside Chicago," said Millman, a Highland Park, Ill.-native. "I introduced myself and said I'd love to write for SI one day. When I got back to school, I wrote a letter … and ended up being his research assistant over the summer working on a book."\nThat summer work led to an internship and a chance to cover the 1992 Summer Olympics from Barcelona. That internship -- and a good word from Telander -- turned into a much-needed job offer.\n"If Telander hadn't been working on a book that summer, who knows what would have happened," Millman said. "SI was always a goal. I ended up failing miserably at all these places, and SI bailed me out."\nMillman parlayed his start as a sports writer at the Indiana Daily Student and his creative writing class at IU with work at SI, CNN/SI and ESPN The Magazine into a successful fiction career. His second book, "The Odds" -- a profile of the sport's gambling industry -- hit bookstores March 20. \nThe book follows the lives of men living on both sides of the industry, bookmakers and "wiseguys" -- powerful gamblers who can maneuver the betting line through their influence.\nMillman thought of the idea for the book after writing a story in 1999 for ESPN The Magazine surrounding the betting industry.\n"I had done a story before the NCAA tournament about who sets the point spreads," Millman said. "What's the first domino to fall in a six-billion industry. And I tracked it down to Stardust. They set the lines for every game -- first. \n"I thought it was fascinating to be the kamikazes of the gambling world because such a move really leaves them exposed to the wiseguys."\nThe wiseguys, who make a living by betting, know the games so well that any mistake the Stardust made could cost it millions of dollars, Millman said.\nCurrent SI senior writer, Rick Reilly, a friend of Millman's, calls The Odds "one wild read."\nMillman is the guide on the hair-raising tour of Vegas sports gambling. "It was fascinating and furious and frightening. When I was done reading, I wanted to do two things: hug my kids and never make a bet again."\nAmong the wiseguys profiled in Millman's book is alumnus Rodney Bosnich, who moved to Las Vegas in 1999 to bet professionally.\nWhile staking out the Stardust looking for a younger profile in his book, Millman stumbled upon Bosnich. \n"I went out there knowing I wanted to profile Joe Lupo and Alan Boston," Millman said, referring to the book's two other main characters. "I wanted to get someone new in the industry. I went there that weekend specifically to find a younger guy to profile. I sat at the Stardust from 7 a.m. to 7 at night, and this one kid kept coming up to bet. He was wearing an IU hat. Later in the afternoon, I introduced myself and told him about the project. It was the most serendipitous event to happen. It worked out perfectly."\nBosnich began his betting career while majoring in business at IU. He'd prey on IU fans who'd do anything to support their team -- even make unwise bets. Bosnich would manipulate the line in his favor and take bets from unsuspecting students. Before he graduated, Bosnich had bankrolled nearly $20,000 courtesy of "stupid frat guys," Millman writes.\nSince then, it's become even easier to bet, Ann Mayo, director of the Sports Management program at Seton Hall, told Millman.\n"It's scary how accessible betting is to college kids," Mayo said in the book. "The kids who used to fix the games with a bookie will do everything they need over the Internet."\nMillman talked four to five times a week to Lupo, Boston and Bosnich and flew to Las Vegas every other weekend during the course of a six-month period. \n"There was a point at the end of the year when Alan (threatened to kill himself)," Millman said. "He said, 'You'd love that wouldn't you?' He knew I was there to write a book. That was my agenda. To see them lose a game by a half a point because some 18-year-old freshman made a free throw, I feel somewhat sympathetic for them. But as much as I like these guys, the more turmoil they're in, the better it is for me."\nPublicAffairs publisher Peter Osnis said the book has received rave reviews from both SI and The Wall Street Journal. PublicAffairs published the book in hopes it would garner attention; Millman and Osnis haven't been disappointed.\n"It's off to a great start," Osnis said. "It's a story about a very serious subject, but it's told with great flair. Chad found a way to bring humanity to the story. He's a really good story teller and a really good writer."\nCheck out to read an excerpt from alumnus Chad Millman's second book, The Odds.\nBosnich did not return IDS phone calls to his Las Vegas home.

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