Star of upcoming CNBC reality show on sports gambling an unsafe bet, sources say

But Stevens’ prior conviction in a telemarketing scam that bilked elderly investors of at least $234,000 nearly 15 years ago is now being scrutinized as CNBC officials begin to distance themselves from Stevens’ picks.

Todd Fuhrman, a former oddsmaker at Caesars Palace who now runs gambling site ToddsTake.com, characterized Stevens as part of a “disturbing trend” within the sports gambling world.

The controversy surrounding Stevens — who was lauded by CNBC as a “well-known handicapper” in a July press release announcing the “docu-soap” — was first reported by Business Insider, which cited a report by WagerMinds.com that found that the domain name for Stevens’ business was registered eight months ago under the name Darin Notaro.

Notaro, then 25, was sentenced to one year in jail in 1999 for his role in a Las Vegas telemarketing scheme that victimized elderly residents nationwide. As one of six men charged in connection to the Century Pacific Group, Notaro was also ordered to make $12,230 in restitution.

“It certainly doesn’t inspire confidence for CNBC to showcase a man with this kind of checkered history,” Kurtz told FoxNews.com. Stevens’ website boasts a winning percentage of 71.5 percent “to be exact,” a figure that — to say the least — raised some eyebrows within betting circles. “What I find particularly stunning is that the network is telling viewers to draw their own conclusions as if this were a guy who was merely controversial for his opinions as opposed to his financial shenanigans.”

“Obviously the guy in the video is a complete scam artist,” Voulgaris posted on Twitter on Monday. “The media consciously chooses to validate the wrong personalities, creating an aura around characters that are no better than modern-day carnies.”

Stevens, a 39-year-old Las Vegas handicapper and upcoming host of the network’s “Money Talks” reality series on the world of sports gambling, runs VIP Sports in Sin City. “70 percent? No shot.”

Noted NBA gambler Bob Voulgaris, who did not return a message seeking comment early Wednesday, denounced Stevens’ claim of winning more than 70 percent of his bets.

Howard Kurtz, a Fox News media analyst, said he found the matter to be problematic.

“We are aware of Steve Stevens’ 1999 conviction, and while we are very clear in the press release that VIP Sports clients risk big dollars in the hopes that Stevens and his agents have the expertise to consistently deliver winners, viewers should tune in on September 10 at 10pm ET/PT to draw their own conclusions about VIP Sports,” CNBC said in a statement to FoxNews.com. “Did they talk to respected voices in the field? Did they reach out to actual sportsbook operators? Did they track Stevens for at least two seasons to see if his claims were warranted before giving him his own show?”

Notaro is also listed as the renter of the office space at 4004 Schiff Drive, the location of VIP Sports, records show.

Kurtz continued: “By giving Stevens this platform, CNBC is implicitly vouching for him and no corporate PR statement can change that.”

“We’re seeing a disturbing trend start to emerge; the proliferation of docudramas, movies and articles that lead to sensationalizing dishonest personalities within the sports betting industry,” Fuhrman wrote in a blog post on Monday.

CNBC may be taking a huge gamble on Steve Stevens.

Fuhrman then noted that “no one, and I mean no one” knows Stevens, who was touted as something like a Las Vegas fixture.

“Why the [expletive] you calling here so early?” Stevens said before hanging up.

Stevens declined to comment when reached early Wednesday by FoxNews.com at his Las Vegas home.

“My disgust with the topic runs deeper and is with the supposedly reputable network for their half-baked attempt to do appropriate research on the featured personality,” Fuhrman wrote. “We are merely betting that viewers will be interested in the world of touts and handicappers and in no way endorse either Stevens’ picks or his business model.”

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Sports :: The NBA Final Picks

Although Shaquille O’Neal is an experienced player with four championship wins Cleveland doesn’t have enough supporting players on the team to help them win. Nothing is set in stone. Even as extraordinary as LeBron may be he cannot win the playoffs by himself.. They can only do a trade to try and lower their salary budget to bring in fresh blood. Many people felt that Boston has a 24.3 percent chance to win it all in 2010.

Do you have a favorite team that you are rooting for? Or maybe you just have a player that you like. In a poll recently posed to fans 51 percent felt that the Lakers would win again in 2010. He is the franchise player that skipped college basketball because of the beauty of his playing abilities. Does your team have a shot at the next NBA Finals? Usually if the team was pretty good in the previous year they will have approximately the same performance unless major players are hurt, were traded or retired. They are the returning champions and have won numerous titles, so they are really the team to watch. New players are too green to have an effect as it will take them a while to get trained and acclimated to professional basketball.

One of the other two contending teams that might have a shot is the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though many say that LeBron is still young and hasn’t fully matured enough to win even though he is a phenomenal player. Unless Kobe gets hurt or something unforeseen happens they should be one of the two teams vying for the title.

As it is still early yet anything could still happen. The other time that happened was with the Chicago Bulls as Michael Jordan wanted to win so badly that he was willing to sacrifice his NBA salary since he was making more money in advertising endorsements. Many feel that the salary caps should be raised so that other teams can compete. They have won a championship game in the past decade so they would need to have a few key players to step up to the plate to get to the playoffs. The favored team could have a really bad year. No one yet knows who is going to win and the NBA picks are still too early to decide. Yet still others feel that the top league players should take a salary cut to gain additional players if they are truly serious about winning. LeBron James leads this team. Unless LeBron James is willing to go this route the Cavaliers may never win.

Number 24 Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers have the greatest odds to win. Most of the teams that are in contention have franchise players and are at the salary cap so they will not have an opportunity to draft any really good players. Your underdog team could possibly get that NBA ring.

The other team that is on the watch list is the Boston Celtics. Boston used to be a powerhouse in the eighties and they may rise up yet again with the right people in place

Handicappers’ Blog | At The Races

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Alice Springs and Lumiere impress at Newmarket July meeting

Newmarket’s July Festival provided the second concentration of major tests for the two-year-old form following on from Royal Ascot, writes Graeme Smith.

Whilst the US-trained Lady Aurelia had blown the Queen Mary field apart at Royal Ascot I am still waiting for a European filly to announce herself as top-class. Quickening to the front over a furlong out, Limato soon went clear in tremendous style though he gave his supporters a moment of worry when hanging right across the track. With two wins from two runs since being gelded, this was the best performance of the 5yo’s career and I have raised his mark from 112 to 118. Ardad clearly was not himself having failed to settle at the longer trip; but several others from the Windsor Castle have also let that form down and I have reined it back 2lb to 104.

The race had a wide-open look beforehand but, on course, there was sustained support for the Henry Candy trained four-year-old gelding Limato.

Boynton and War Decree are both hugely imposing colts and have already come a long way in just two starts apiece.

Mehmas might have passed his latest test but he lost his status as the leading British juvenile following the 7f bet365 Superlative Stakes later in the week. Limato aside, she arguably travelled as well as anything but could not match the winner’s decisive burst. This was one of those cases where a couple of debut winners leap-frogged some more established types. A poor run in the 1000 Guineas led to various comments about whether she had been overrated, had not trained on or perhaps did not get the mile. . However, his versatility over 6f/7f – connections are still confident he’ll get a mile given the right circumstances – gives him plenty of options and wherever he turns up he is an exciting horse to look forward to.

Incidentally, Caravaggio’s effort in beating Mehmas at Ascot remains the current benchmark for European juvenile colts.

A head behind in third was the progressive 3yo filly Quiet Reflection, winner of this year’s Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot. The first five home in the Albany were covered by little more than two lengths. The level of competition promises to get tougher with a handful of potentially smart maiden winners from the last week including Dabyah and Easy Victory.

Travelling well within himself off what was a decent pace from the word go, it always looked a case of when, not if, he would stamp his authority on the race.

This year’s 6f Group 1 Darley July Cup at Newmarket, the largest field since Sakhee’s Secret win in 2007, also featured eighteen runners writes Stewart Copeland. War Decree gets 110 via my workings but his figure at this stage is in the hands of my Irish counterpart. He was doing his best work late when fourth in the Chesham and here reversed the placings with Cunco; and that without getting a clear run here.

Completing the frame in fourth was Profitable, much improved at 5f this year and winner of the Group 1 King’s Stand last time out when he ran to 117. Currently rated 115, she posted a figure of 112 on the day.

Limato all class in July Cup romp

Mehmas saw off a new wave of competition from the Coventry with Silver Line stepping up in trip from the Norfolk, Ardad doing the same having won the Windsor Castle and a host of promising maiden winners.

Also, Frankel’s daughter Fair Eva has had her impressive Haydock success franked several times over as she waits for her next assignment.

This implies that Dutch Connection (second: pre-race 115) and Custom Cut (fourth: 114) were a couple of pounds shy of their best with performances of 113 and 112. In beating a field of such depth and quality I have taken the view that he has.

With both the clock and race standards pointing to a repeat of Mehmas’s 110 performance from Royal Ascot I took the view a reproduction of that form was good enough, nor did he seem to have much in reserve. As well as quantity there was also plenty of quality with no less than six of the challengers already successful at the top level.

Kentuckyconnection (fourth: pre-race 108), Atlantic Sun (fifth: 102) and Mohab (sixth: 98) each ran to, or within a pound of, their current marks.

Two high quality fillies lit up the mile division at Newmarket’s July meeting last week writes Dominic Gardiner-Hill.

Limato went in to the race as the highest rated in the field on 119 based largely on his impressive success in the 7f Group 2 Park Stakes at Doncaster last year. The 99-rated Mr Scaramanga remains with potential too. That confidence in the market, which eventually sent him off favourite, was not misplaced.

How good were the Newmarket two year olds?

Having already shown a level of form good enough to win an average July Cup, it was a case of deciding whether Limato improved further still to win how he did. From a ratings perspective, things slotted in neatly with runner-up Cymric appearing to reproduce his 109 gained when fourth in the St James’s Palace at Royal Ascot on his previous start.

The general view at Royal Ascot was that Alice Springs was an unlucky loser of the Coronation and this result adds credence to that view. A winning performance of 103 ranks above only those of Arabian Queen (2014) and Please Sing (2008) since 1991.

It is obviously still early days for these fillies. He stepped up again to post a career best effort of 115. Allocating him that rating puts him on a par with Lethal Force in 2013, and you have to go back to Oasis Dream in 2003 to find a higher rated performance in the race. The placed horses here, Intelligence Cross and Broken Stones, both seem at an earlier stage in their development than the winner so there is still hope for them to progress further.

The Duchess of Cambridge proved a similar story as Aidan O’Brien’s Roly Poly raised her game to see off Magical Fire by half a length. She still emerges with plenty of credit though and, given her effectiveness with give in the ground, it was no surprise to hear she will be targeted at some of the big sprint prizes in the autumn.

Both historical standards and a direct line through the Chesham form lead to a new assessment of 113 for Boynton.

In other footnotes, Silver Line became the latest to endorse the Norfolk form and that winner, Prince of Lir, has now been raised to an assessment of 108. This suggests that Lumiere reproduced her 116 figure and a step back into Group company is eagerly awaited.

This is based on third placed Gabrial returning to the sort off form he showed when third in both the Sussex Stakes and the QE II last year and Kodi Bear (sixth) running the same race as he did in the Queen Anne. Having contested the Lockinge over 8f on his reappearance, Limato was dropping back to 6f for the first time since he chased home last year’s top European sprinter, Muhaarar, in the inaugural Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

The former proved herself a top-class 2yo last year with victory in the Cheveley Park and her rating of 116 saw her topped only by Minding (120) in the 2yo filly pecking order. Again the race looks relatively simple to rate as Always Smile (third) looks to have reproduced her current mark of 110 and that fits pretty well with Irish Rookie (fourth: pre-race 106) improving a pound to 107 and Ashadihan (fifth: 106) running a pound off her Coronation form. Whilst he showed himself effective at this trip, his best form clearly remains at the minimum and I have him running to 112 here.  It was no surprise to hear that the 5f Nunthorpe at York was next on his agenda.

She was also encountering the quickest surface she has faced to date. This suggests that Alice Springs might have scored by around half to three quarters of a length with more luck.

Her six lengths demolition of the field in Thursday’s Listed Plusvital Henry Cecil Stakes answered all those questions in no uncertain terms.

If that was the appetiser, then Alice Springs provided the main course with success in the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes on Friday. Rated 113 when a narrow fifth in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee where, arguably, he was on the wrong side of a pace bias that day he franked that view in improving further still.

Both the historical and pre-race form standards line up on a rating of 121 and the impressive nature of his success fully merits crediting him with that level of performance.

Boynton and War Decree drew upwards of five lengths clear of a pair who had finished in the frame in the Chesham.

Quite where Limato goes next depends largely on him getting the fast ground he favours.

Chasing him home in second was the five-year-old gelding Suedois, who has shown gradual improvement this year since joining David O’Meara. With Europe’s top older milers struggling to break the 120 barrier, Mutakayyef’s emergence is welcomed.

Thankfully that made no difference to the result apart from the fact a case could be made he would have won by further than two lengths but for his wanderings.

At Ascot Qemah beat her over 4 lengths, at Newmarket Alice Springs beat her by 4.75 lengths. Not only does my race rating of 115 better my figure for Coronation winner Qemah (114), but a straight form line using Ashadihan also gives Aidan O’Brien’s filly the edge.

In the first major race of the week, the Arqana July Stakes, Mehmas put his reputation as the leading British-trained juvenile on the line and it emerged intact following a half-length defeat of the staying-on Intelligence Cross. With luck they may meet at some point during the remainder of the season.  I am, of course, referring to Lumiere and Alice Springs.

Not to be outdone, the boys hit back with a fine performance from Mutakayyef in the Fred Cowley MBE Summer Mile at Ascot on Saturday.

A speed figure of 103 does not quite substantiate the level to the extent the speed figure did in the July Stakes; but that is probably down to the time it took for the pace to get going