The rise of Dial Sports and pre-Internet American sports betting
The evolution of American sports betting prior to the Internet can be traced back to a garage office in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
At its peak, in the early 1980s, Mickey Charles’ garage was receiving 20 million phone calls a month and generating millions of dollars in revenue. The calls, costing as much as 50 cents apiece, came from across the nation. Many were placed from the pay phones outside of Madison Square Garden, some came from Las Vegas and almost all were from gamblers. But Charles wasn’t running a backroom bookmaking operation.
A charismatic and ambitious kid from the Bronx, Charles was one of the public voices of sports betting in the 1970s and ’80s. He wrote a gambling column for the Philadelphia Inquirer and featured Las Vegas sportsbook executives and handicappers on his radio broadcasts. In a 1978 appearance on “The Today Show,” he nailed the score of Super Bowl XII, telling then-host Tom Brokaw theDallas Cowboys would beat the Denver Broncos 27-10.
“I told Tom Brokaw that I’d come back on, but he couldn’t ask me for another score ever,” Charles joked during a spring phone interview about his successful and lucrative career in sports media and gambling.
Financially, things took off for Charles after he transformed the two-car garage adjacent to his home in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, into the headquarters of Dial Sports, one of the earliest pay-per-call services that provided frequent score updates on games.
Continue Reading Via: David Purdum at ESPN Chalk