Barstool Sports: The night the lights went out in Vegas

Dec 16, 2020 |
By: Barstool Sports

You've probably read Barstool Sports, a kick ass sports blog with an East Coast focus. They join us every week to enlighten us on their own betting experiences. This week Pete Manzo tells us about one of the most overlooked scandals in recent betting history.

People always have bad beat stories. But there is no doubt what is the worst bad beat in the history of gambling. It's the night the lights went out in Vegas. 

For the non-degenerates in the audience, the game I am referring to is UNLV/Wisconsin, played August 31, 2002.

As you’ll see, the game’s ending was shadier and more mysterious than a North End election. What you will also see is that of all the unpaid writers in all of metro Boston, this one just so happened to be vacationing in Las Vegas that week and in attendance at Sam Boyd Stadium that night.

Here is my account of the events leading up to and through the now infamous game:

When I arrived in Vegas on Tuesday night the 27th, it didn’t take long to figure out who UNLV was playing in their home opener on Saturday. Whether it was the Tram to the Mandalay, the front row at Club Paradise, or the line (again) at the ATM, you couldn’t go 10 feet without seeing someone sporting “Bucky the Badger” paraphernalia or wearing a friggin’ foam block of cheese atop their head.

Wisconsin fans had actually flocked in such droves that week that the game itself set an all-time attendance record for UNLV football.

What Badger fans also did was flood the sportsbooks. And rightly so.

In fact, when I first noticed the line at “Wisc…3….UNLV” written in red magic marker at the “palatial” Tropicana sportsbook, I too nearly put down my Keno Gold card and hopped the six folding chairs blocking my path to the betting counter.


How could UNLV only be getting a field goal to a Big Ten power like Wisconsin? Did Randall Cunningham have an extra year of eligibility I didn’t know about? Is the Fonz the new coach for the Badgers?

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