Before he became a sports writer, David Garrett was a sportswriter.
Confused? Don’t be. Garrett’s former occupation was in journalism, covering high school sports in Riverside, Calif. Today, he is the supervisor for the race and sportsbook at the Santa Fe Station in Northwest Las Vegas.
“I enjoyed the variety of journalism,” said Garrett, 50, “But I didn’t enjoy the deadline pressure and how you were always worried about the next story as soon as you got done with the one you had written.”
Garrett covered sports in California’s Inland Empire for a dozen years or so. Doing that time, he got to write about future professional athletes Mike Anderson, Ryan Madsen and Kyle Turley.
“It was a good feeling to write about people,” Garrett said. “These guys went on to be famous but they remember you writing about them and that was pretty cool.”
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Then he left the newspaper business and started writing tickets in the sportsbook at Santa Fe. Eventually, he was promoted to supervisor.
“I went from sportswriter to sports writer,” Garrett said with a laugh.
Garrett deals with a little different pressure these days. Like when it’s Sunday morning and the early NFL games are getting ready to kick off at 10 a.m. and the line at the Santa Fe snakes around the book with anxious bettors looking to get their wagers in. But Garrett has a veteran crew of writers and they seem to manage to get just about everyone’s bets in by kickoff.
“It’s a real positive place to work,” he said. “We have one of the best rooms in the city. They don’t make these kind of books anymore, with the exception of what they did at Circa. We’re told all the time, ‘You guys are the best’ and that’s a good feeling when people appreciate you.”
Garrett has represented his property well in Gaming Today’s 2020 Bookies Battle contest, which is sponsored by his employer, Station Casinos. He is 117-103 with two weeks remaining after finishing 9-7 in Week 15.
“I’ve tried to find underdogs when I can,” he said of his strategy, which is similar to that of most of the successful contestants. “I’ll take whatever points I can get.”
His goal? To be on the leaderboard and finish in the top 10 which would put him in next month’s Bookies Battle Playoffs.
“There’s some big names on the leaderboard, some legendary guys,” he said. “If I can be in with them, it would be a real honor.”
It’s been a good year for Garrett when it comes to rooting for his teams. He’s originally from Los Angeles, so for him, it’s the Dodgers in baseball, the Lakers in basketball and the Kings in hockey. His football team? The Seattle Seahawks, only because L.A. didn’t have a team back when he became an NFL fan. The Rams were in Anaheim, then St. Louis and the Chargers were still in San Diego.
“It’s been a good year,” Garrett admitted. “The Dodgers won. The Lakers won. The Kings had a tough year but I think they’ll bounce back.”
When the coronavirus pandemic shut down all the casinos in Las Vegas back in March, Garrett wasn’t even in the country. He was on a cruise with his wife Michelle.
“It was shocking when we found out,” he said. “We were on the ship and they let us go to the ports and it felt like the safest place in the world. Then we got home and there was nothing left in the stores. We had turkey in March.”
But Garrett and his family (they have three boys, ages 23, 12 and 8) got through it and when Santa Fe reopened in early June, Garrett was glad to be back. The guidelines in the book are stricter to comply with the state’s health mandates, but he said everyone on both sides of the counter have learned to adjust and co-exist.
“People know the routine now,” he said. “You get on line earlier and that way you don’t get shut out. Or you can sign up for the (Station casinos) app which a lot of people have done and they can bet from their seats, both sports and race.”
The app may be the biggest advancement in Garrett’s 15 years in the sports betting industry. It’s changed everything.
“There’s so many more ways to bet than before,” he said. “It’s great for both the book and for the bettors.”
The biggest change this year besides social distancing? No $1 hot dogs on football game days and nights.
“Yeah, a lot of people miss the hot dogs,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll have it back next year.”