JustBet History and Beginning
When it comes to gambling sites beginnings, perhaps only the history of bookmaker.eu is more colorful than that of www.justbet.cx. This is a company whose lineage carries with it a player stiffing from 1985 by a "legal" US sportsbook based in Las Vegas, Nevada. Despite this, they're one of the most trusted gambling sites in the business, and rightfully so. All this and more will be covered below on the history of Justbet.cx.
The Gary Austin Story
Gary Austin became famous and turned tout (pick's seller) after winning the Castaways NFL Handicappers Championship in 1978. For those unfamiliar with Las Vegas history, Castaways was a significant location for many reasons. First, this is where the Red Rooster Nite Club (built in 1931) once stood. The hotel was built in 1957, and in 1963, it was renamed Castaways. During the sixties, it was famous for its 15,000 gallon aquarium located behind the front desk with daily shows featuring naked woman inside.
Perhaps more significant, this was a longtime mafia hotspot and many of the "who's who" in the world of sports bookies hung out here. Their sportsbook called "hole on the wall" was managed by gambling hall of famer, Sonny Reizner, and this was where he invented NFL prop bets. The hotel was torn down in 1987 (it was located approximately where the Mirage stands today). In any case, the contest was massively hyped: Gary Austin ran an amazing enterprise, perhaps got a big head, and the media fed it further.
After winning the Castaways capping contest, Gary Austin set up a company called "Austin's Edge" that took out full-page newspaper ads bragging about his wins and marketing his picks for sale. It caught so much attention that in 1980, Sports Illustrated magazine did a 4,300-word article on him. Later that year he was interviewed by Tom Brokaw on NBC's Today Show.
In the year that followed, he made many television appearances, became a bookie, and opened a sports rotation service (a precursor to Donsbest) with now infamous tout, Jim Feist, as a business partner. Made larger than life by the media, he opened Gary Austin's Sportsbook on Las Vegas Blvd. located about where Bill's Gambling Hall stands today.
The stories associated with Gary Austin's Sportsbook are many. Over the years, we've heard it referred to as a real cowboy joint where the owner often set off-market prices due to his leans on certain games. Gary, portrayed as a larger-than-life tout, perhaps was too proud to decline a bet. It was said that sharps such as Billy Walters and his crew would wager mid-five figures a game with Austin's book.
The famous story is about Gary Austin's huge bet on the Cardinals winning the World Series. If you're interested in controversy, Game 6 of that series had it, as did Game 7. Many speculate that he was broke at the time, and lucky for him (wink, wink), his sportsbook was robbed, forcing him out of business. It was as simple as that! Robbery right after the World Series, and the place closed. With that, all winning tickets were useless, as were pending futures; and the phone-in banks that included as much as $1 million were lost due to operator bankruptcy.
While most assumed that Gary Austin would disappear, never to be heard from again, this isn't how it played out. Logically, most casual gamblers that followed the Sports Illustrated and media coverage of his portrayed greatness never knew the man had gone broke, or had ever heard of such a thing as Gary Austin's Sportsbook. Naturally, Austin would stay a bookie and a tout, and the next time his name resurfaced was in 1988 when he was named in a federal investigation into a $1-million-a-day bookmaking operation based in Los Angeles. While he was only one of many named, rumor has it that this bookmaking business was then moved to Costa Rica and in 1996 was given the name TradeWinds.
Early Tradewinds Sportsbooks
In late 1997, the sportsbook Guardian Guarantee, heavily marketed by tout Jim Feist, put Tradewinds on the map. Their marketing ploy was with a single deposit, you could wager with two sportsbooks using the same balance: Tradewinds and Sports Exchange. These sites had virtually the same lines, and while everyone had heard of and openly discussed Tradewinds as a Gary Austin product, what exactly Sports Exchange was we are not sure.
In any case, before long the name would change to BetGuardian, simply a Tradewinds mirror site. By the year 2000, dozens of additional Tradewinds powered websites with their own brand name popped up as well. The most popular were Regency, BetBadlands, and BetMalibu that went along with Tradewinds and BetGuardian.
Tradewinds Always Paid Fast
Although the Gary Austin connection initially kept most forums from recommending the Tradewinds brands, the 1990's player feedback was impressive and overwhelmingly positive. The Tradewinds powered websites had decent risk tolerance, weren't known for limiting players, and always paid lightning fast via person-to-person transfer such as Western Union. No matter how much the watchdog forums warned people to avoid them, player feedback from regulars was always along the lines of "seriously, these guys are solid".
Gary Austin's name stopped being brought up on forums over time. For those wondering what happened to him, in 2002 he married Costa Rican supermodel Lynda Diaz. The couple had twins and lived in a multimillion dollar dream home until their 2009 divorce. While he's lived quite a good life, he's not all that great a person. Anytime an old-timer approaches him over the 1985 Las Vegas debts, his response is "the statute of limitations has expired" or "I'm not legally obligated to pay." It's amazing that moral and ethical obligations, or the gambler code, matter not at all to Mr. Gary Austin, a larger-than-life gambling fraud.
Of course, due to the nature of the business as an illegal sports betting operation targeting the United States, how much (if any) ownership he actually had/has in Tradewinds is unknown. However, we do know that somehow he afforded an $8 million home behind the 8th hole of Costa Rica's Cariari Country Club.
JustBet.com Launches as New Tradewinds Brand
In retrospect, it might seem that Tradewinds had an unusual business model, as it appears that the company ran dozens of sportsbooks that were all the same. Some players were with BetGuardian, others with Guardian Guarantee, Badlands, BetMalibu, Regency, TRDWD, M&M Sportsbook, or one of countless others. In actuality, a lot of Tradewinds marketing was done by touts who were getting recruitment fees to send players to the books.
These guys would appear on ESPN.com or in full page ads in newspapers and magazines, and they also ran score phones and free pick lines they marketed. Eventually, they'd make personal contact with a player and drop a name of their sportsbook of choice. The many brands were simply an easier way to know who to pay. As the Internet started to mature, and branding and Google rankings became more of a factor, the need to rebrand became a pressing issue.
As a response to the need for brand identity, on August 1, 2006, the most popular Tradewinds website Regency was rebranded as Justbet.com. From here, for the first time since their start a full decade earlier, Tradewinds began offering an open affiliate program. This, of course, being for the JustBet.com brand. Over the next two years, many other Tradewinds sites would have their players migrated to Justbet.com. As an affiliate-friendly brand, Justbet excelled. There were contests at SBR, unique bonuses at RX and EOG, and Covers gave them a huge push.
Justbet Key Staff
While marketing exposure is one thing, what you do with it is another. This is an area in which Justbet excels. Nathan M., a standup guy well-known in the industry, took a position representing JustBet on various forums under the handle Sharky79. For many years and still to this date, if any player has a challenge, Nathan is always there to fix it fast. Other great guys behind the company include Scott C. who gives out massive bonuses, and Butch C., who if you know by name, you're probably not a fan.
Butch heads up risk management, which is what keeps the book in business, but it also means cutting limits for player's too sharp and making threats to players who chargeback. The two females in marketing, sexy for their smarts, are Stephanie W. and Brooke D. Then, of course, in addition to several hundred support reps / ticket writers there is Gary T. who has been the general manager for a few years now. Most will remember Gary for his support days with BetCRIS. He's the glue that helps keep their massive operation running smoothly.
Justbet's Latest Innovations
Once an underground type of bookie, Justbet has been amazing as a legit retail betting brand. In addition to P2P and credit cards for US players, those living elsewhere can deposit with Neteller, Skrill, Ukash, or Click2Pay. Their platform now includes a sportsbook, racebook, and online casino accessibility from a single log-in and player bank. The website works great on Nokia, Blackberry, iPhone, Android, and most other mobile devices. It also features many of the latest industry innovations such as live dealer casino games and in-play betting for sports. If you're ever lucky enough to visit their offices, you'll find over 100 flat screens monitored by several hundred employees who take support calls and write bet tickets.
To sum up, Justbet is a well-managed online sportsbook that offers great support in all departments. They also feature outstanding sports betting bonuses, fair dispute resolution, and fast payouts. Whether Gary Austin has any association with the brand is unknown, but there's never been a hint of concern at this time. No payout delays, nor any other issues to report. JustBet has a perfect and proven track record. Due to a 2011 change that has taken place near industry, they've moved away from the US facing .com domain and now operate at www.justbet.cx.
Author: Jim Griffin
Updated: March 2015
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