Posts Tagged ‘CNBC’

CONTINUED from PART 1 of this series…

By W.G. Ramirez (TWITTER: @AP_WG)

  • BACK IN BUSINESS

Once released from prison, and needing to feed his appetite for making stacks of cash, Notaro was introduced to the sports-tout business by close friends who were working at a couple of the better-known telemarketing rooms at the time.

“I knew there was another telemarketing racket to where people were making good money, so I was looking for another gig where I could use my sales talent to become successful in something because as a kid I felt like that was all I knew,” Notaro said.

After working in a couple of sales rooms in Las Vegas, he eventually opened up a one-man office in Northwest Las Vegas and started to learn the nuances of the business. Eventually, he ended up at 4004 Schiff Drive – where he currently operates out of – and says he’s been operating under the same business license for nearly 13 years. According to filings with the Secretary of State, Notaro is the President, Secretary and Treasurer of Executive VIP Services International, which operates VIP Sports Las Vegas.

“You’ve got boiler rooms, and you’ve got licensed and bonded rooms – people that do everything on the up and up; I take pride in being that person, always have,” Notaro said. “When you compare me to Vin Diesel (referring to the movie Boiler Room), it’s hurtful. This isn’t a movie, I’ve worked my ass off legitimately to build this. I’ve never been a guy to market and advertise. I’ve never advertised ’72 percent, call my phone,’ like I’m a fraud or lying to people. I’ve never advertised or ran ads in my life.”

Maybe not, but the original “sizzle reel” made by Left Turn Productions – the same production company that made Mayweather’s documentary ’30 Days in May’ – promoted an outrageously big winning percentage by “Stevens” and riled up nearly everyone that decided to voice their opinion, including Las Vegas Review Journal columnist John L. Smith, who wrote two columns – one that introduced the upcoming series, and a second in which he interviewed a longtime gambling consultant and math and probability expert. Notaro admitted the publicized percentage(s) were Hollywood stunts gone bad for promotional purposes, and acknowledged he has not hit that percentage during his time as a sports tout. But he too got riled up – more than any other time during the scrutiny he’s received – since his show, according to him, is about his life and the sports-tout business operation, and not winning percentages or handicapping.

“That was exactly a clip from my TV show,” Notaro said. “That wasn’t me making a website and then going out and spending money advertising that I’m 72 percent. Even though people do that, I’ve never advertised in my life. My show is not about percentages. … My show is basically about bringing you in (my) world.

“The only people right now that are really bashing me are guys in the industry; guys that probably want a TV show or guys that used to be able to pay for advertising and have people call them and make millions of dollars. Those days are gone, so there’s gonna be guys a little upset that I’ve landed a show on CNBC when advertising in this business is so hard to come by because the day of spending a million dollars to get three back in return are over. And it’s fine for people to bash me, but I just want a fair shake. I want people to watch the show and give me a fair shake because they’re going to love it.”

  • MONEY TALKS

And so, a sports-tout business reality series that has generated as much controversy and drama within the sports-betting world as Miley Cyrus’ twerk session on last week’s Video Music Awards is set to debut on CNBC in a little less than two weeks, on Sept. 10.

Notaro2

Darin Notaro, aka Steve Stevens, makes his debut on CNBC’s Money Talks on Sept. 10.

“I’m very proud in what I’ve done and how I’ve succeeded and NBC is all about giving me a fair shake,” Notaro said. “They’re completely aware of everything and thank God for them because they believe that somebody changes. And I’ve really changed into a different person that people should be excited to see.”

The 40-year-old Las Vegas-native said viewers will see him actually get on the phone and deal with customers personally. Notaro said when he makes his sales pitch, it’s always about a big game. He doesn’t shy away from the fact it takes a hardcore sales pitch to get someone on the other end of the telephone to agree to send him money. But he also added he has never used his friendships with Mayweather or other professional athletes he’s met or knows because they live in Las Vegas during the off-season. Two reasons, according to Notaro. One, he said, is because he wants his players knowing they’re playing with Steve Stevens – and he’s the guy making them money, not his friends. And two, he’d never cross the line and incriminate the professional-team athletes he knows by comingling their names in the sports-betting business. Perhaps, maybe, that would be proof of one lesson learned about doing business the right way.

“I don’t get information from locker rooms,” Notaro said. “I know NBA players, I know Major League players, I know all that. I don’t get any information from any of them. I don’t claim to be some guy that knows a guy – none of that. I’m Darin Notaro, I’m a family man, I’m a good guy. I’ve got a lot of friends and family, I like to eat good, I hang out. I’ve done it all. I’m born and raised in Las Vegas, and I pretty much raised hell early.

“But Steve Stevens is a guy that’s all about his business, he’s all about making money, he’s all about feeding his family and he’s all about putting all his problems at the door when he goes into work. That’s what a master closer does, they focus 110 percent on the business and give it all they’ve got during the business shift. I don’t get paid unless (my customers) do… the biggest sale is getting the guy to trust you, then showing him results; that’s the hardest part. I’ve built my foundation from the bottom up. I do outbound sales. Convince people to give me the opportunity to showcase my talent, then my games back it up.”

This, according to him, is what we’re going to see on Money Talks; and then some.

“When these guys understand that I’m bringing viewers into the world of gaming as a whole, it’s not a competition,” Notaro said. “I’m bringing people into our world, letting ’em see it, exposing the world to it on a stock market level and letting people know there’s another option besides the stock market. I’m not telling you to stop playing stocks, but there’s another option. And a damn good one, too.

“Everything I do is on the up and up and I try to give you everything I’ve got. As long as I win more than I lose, that’s all that matters.”

Whether or not the show’s transparency will reveal that much remains to be seen. For now, Notaro and CNBC are betting they have a winner before the NFL season has even started.

READ PART 1 of this series

Special thanks goes to David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) for his assistance and contribution to this report

Advertisements
Darin Notaro, aka Steve Stevens, will appear on a CNBC reality series Money Talks on Sept. 10.

Darin Notaro, aka Steve Stevens, will appear on a CNBC reality series Money Talks on Sept. 10.

By W.G. Ramirez (TWITTER: @AP_WG)

Part 1 of 2

Darin Notaro says he was making more than a quarter-million dollars a year before he graduated high school. And that, he adds, was surprisingly his downfall.

“My senior year in high school I made $300,000. You’re a young kid, you feel like nobody can really tell you nothing. You get a sense of power around town. People like ya, the girls, you feel a little powerful; but boy there’s a big price to pay with that. I was blind; you’re absolutely right about that.”

Notaro is a two-time convicted felon whose sports-betting reality series “Money Talks” is set to debut Sept. 10 on CNBC, and he’s hoping will pique sports-gambling fans even more than it has online critics across the sports-betting industry.

Yet while everyone from journalists, to talk-show hosts, to handicappers, to industry pundits who he said have no business wagging their fingers in his face since they seemingly operate with impunity while appearing to walk on high moral ground have been boisterous, the only person who’s publicly remained silent all this time is Notaro.

Until now.

After spending a couple of hours with Notaro at a local Italian deli – yes, at times it felt like the only thing missing was the Godfather theme and a gun hidden behind the men’s room toilet – it felt more like an interview with the character from a different motion picture: “8 Mile.” You remember the rap battle near the end of the movie, when Jimmy B-Rabbit Smith, the character portrayed by Eminem, does the unthinkable by turning the spotlight on himself and freestyling negative rhymes so his nemesis couldn’t?

Knowingly being recorded, Notaro was candid about his negative past and had no qualms acknowledging and discussing what everyone in the sports betting and handicapping community has been clamoring about since news hit the Internet and spread like wildfire about the show. Quite frankly, you’d think Notaro needed a white Ford Bronco the way everyone has been calling for his head, from social media sites, to sports-betting blogs and forums, to newspaper columns, to radio talk shows.

Then again, when you know someone has been convicted for being part of a telemarketing scam that bilked thousands of dollars from elderly people, the question undoubtedly has to be asked: “Why in the hell would CNBC – a satellite and cable television business news channel – give the felon-card holder his own TV series?”

It’s a question the journalistic community had to ask the network, and why it would endorse a television show that features a guy whose original two-minute trailer revealed a better-than 70 percent winning percentage for his players while calling himself a “well-known” handicapper, when most of the talking heads had no clue about Steve Stevens – Notaro’s alter ego in his office and on his show.

Well, with the college football season underway, and the NFL set to start next Thursday, let’s meet them both: Notaro, and Stevens…

  • REALITY, WHAT A CONCEPT

When one of your best friends is Floyd Mayweather and your office is just suites away from the world champion’s boxing gym, your worlds are bound to gravitate toward one another. Notaro and Mayweather met long before the sports tout suggested the boxer move his headquarters into the same plaza in Chinatown, but the fact Notaro is as flamboyant in his world as Pretty Boy is in his, it’s easy to see why the two are good friends.

So when Mayweather’s production team that makes the documentary 24/7 before each one of his fights listened to an idea of bringing cameras into the sports-tout world for a reality series about a phone-room operation, and Pretty Boy gave his crew the stamp of approval to work with Notaro, the sports-tout business owner said the right people thought it had enough sizzle to take to networks.

“Floyd is just a good friend of mine,” Notaro said. “He introduced me to the guys who did 24/7, they put the show together. Floyd isn’t looking for anything from me or anything from my show. He’s a good friend of mine and that’s pretty much where we stand. I don’t even brag about the famous athletes or the richest athletes, or this, that or the other. I’m not that type of guy. I’ve made it this far without doing any of that. CNBC just isn’t putting crap on the air. I’ve earned their trust and confidence and gave ’em a show that they’re backing 110 percent. And I hope America does too.”

With three shows in the bank, the pilot episode is set to air Sept. 10 at 10 p.m., while production toward 13 more episodes will begin the same day as the debut. Notaro said the misconception about the show is that everyone believes it’s about him handicapping games; but in reality, it’s about the sports-tout business.

The difference, Notaro said, is he is “a tout, … need to get that clear – I’m a tout. The show isn’t just about me and picking games. The home base is pretty much our office. But then there are five characters you go off and follow … it’s a reality show.”

Notaro believes he is injecting adrenaline into the industry, while his critics believe CNBC is about to shed light on someone who practices unethical telemarketing, and not the world of sports betting.

And that is where the controversy begins…

  • A TELEMARKETING FRAUD

In 1995, Notaro was one of several arrested for wire fraud and aiding and abetting in a telemarketing scam that targeted elderly people. He paid $12,230 in restitution and served 18 months in federal prison. Four years later, while on probation for those charges, he said he was arrested and charged with violating his probation by telemarketing without a telemarketer’s license. He paid a fine with the state and went back to prison for a year and one day. He is adamant a story reported on Wagerminds.com that stated he was convicted three times is incorrect – it was only twice. And as for the use of another alias – Darin Sasser – Notaro said that’s simply his mother’s last name and there was never any attempt at being disingenuous.

Nevertheless, Notaro is a convicted felon and has plenty to answer for if he’s going to appear on a financial television network to advise people how to invest their money in sports betting. Like how and why would you get involved in such a racket, and why did you return after once convicted?

“When you’re seeing seven, eight thousand dollars a week, you’re definitely blinded by the money,” Notaro said. “But as I got older and realized what happened and what we did and how you sold elderly people, yeah, it actually hurt my heart and blew my mind.

“Did I learn from it? It made me a whole different person, it made me a better person. When I look back at it, I think there’s still guys that I’ve heard are doing it to this day, makes me want to beat their ass to be honest with you. I worked at a company I didn’t own, I was a salesman … I went to prison for it. Young kid, got caught up in something, made some bad decisions. I paid a price, yeah it was very hurtful to me. Changed who I am, made me a better person.”

Asked if he ever considered the fact one of those elderly people could have been his own grandparent, Notaro became animated and emotional in his response.

“Beyond a shadow of a doubt,” he said. “It makes me sick, don’t like it at all. I got older and realized I was in a racket, a business that targeted elderly people and at that time you don’t really look at it as targeting people like that because you’re just doing your job at what people told you to do and I was a good salesman cause I was an energetic kid.

“But I sat there as a young man doing my time and paid a price that would put me in a situation to where I wouldn’t even think of doing something that I did 15, 20 years ago.”

His detractors believe he’s simply jumped right back into a world of unethical telemarketing, this time with his targets being naïve sports bettors that buy into a sales pitch that could be littered with unsubstantiated claims. And Notaro said he fully understands there might be legitimate critics who will question CNBC giving a platform to a convicted felon with his kind of checkered past. But at the same time, he also gives a Michael Jordan-shrug to those who are questioning Money Talks, yet still operate phone rooms or sports services of some kind under the same guise they claim he’s operating under.

“People are always looking for the bad,” he said. “But at the same time I paid my price for that … and I’ve done everything that they’ve asked to do … and I’ve worked hard and gave blood, sweat and tears to build this business.”

Which leads us to Steve Stevens…

Read PART 2 of this series

Special thanks goes to David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) for his assistance and contribution to this report

World boxing champion Floyd Mayweather may appear in at least one episode of the soon-to-be-appearing reality show Money Talk$, which will take viewers inside the world of sports betting via Steve Stevens, owner of Las Vegas-based VIP Sports.

CNBC recently said it would be developing a primetime slate featuring reality programming, and one of those hours will include the sports betting industry.

Produced by Turn Left Productions with Todd Crites and Jackson Nguyen as executive producers, the show will feature Stevens and his representatives (ahem, salesmen), who keep the phone lines open for all interested sports bettors.

VIP Sports is located near the Mayweather’s gym in Las Vegas, and as the boxer has risen as one of the most prominent bettors in the world – just see his tweets – he and Stevens have become close.

Ads are expected to begin running July 31 on CNBC, while the show is expected to debut on Sept. 10. The pilot episode will run roughly 90 times before subsequent episodes pick up in December.