Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Review of "No Grey Areas"

When I saw that a book had been written about the 1994 point shaving scandal at Arizona State by the mastermind behind it, I was very happy when my request for a copy was approved.  But like the season that starts with championship hopes and ends without making the playoffs, this book started strong and limped to the finish. Here is my review of "No Grey Areas." 

“No Grey Areas” by Joseph N. Gagliano

Basketball, college, gambling, memoir

Publish date:
January 14, 2016

226 pages

3 of 5 stars (okay)

Some books start off slow and get better as the reader gets further into the story. Others start off strong and grab the reader’s attention right away but don’t stay as interesting throughout the book. This memoir of the mastermind behind one of the biggest point shaving scandal in college basketball history fits that latter category.

Joseph Gagliano’s story of how he pulled off this betting scam to win millions of dollars is a compelling story of a young man who wasn’t scared or intimidated by anything. With the help from a friend and a willing player from the Arizona State basketball team, Gagliano was able to orchestrate this scam during three Sun Devil games in 1994. While reading about this scheme, the reader will learn about the sports gambling industry, how point spreads can change depending on the bets being placed and that the action doesn’t take place just in Las Vegas. 

Once he got caught by federal officials, that is when I started to not enjoy the book as much because while Gagliano does admit that he made many poor decisions, it reads as if he blames so many other people for his failings. This is true not only for his guilty plea for the point shaving scandal but also when he was investigated and later convicted of fraud stemming from some bad loans while financing his car wash businesses. He writes about his bad decisions with the millions he earned from his business ventures, but again he sounds bitter.

Particularly telling is what he writes about his family when he was awaiting indictment for the business loans.  He stated that “…when I lost my company, hit the hard times and stopped being able to provide financially for the entire family, I basically lost my status as the Golden Child.” So he is bitter because now he isn’t the favorite son after being indicted twice?  This type of dialogue rubbed me the wrong way and was a sad conclusion to a book that started out as a great read. It seemed to me that he doesn’t understand that these are the consequences one may face when bad decisions are made.

Nonetheless, I will give the book a passing mark for the good description of the sports gambling industry, his detail of how the point shaving took place and his willingness to share the story of not only the basketball scandal but also his accounts of the ups and downs of his car wash franchises. It is just too bad that he couldn’t have applied the lessons of too much greed to his businesses.

I wish to thank Rebel Press for providing a copy of the book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Format Read:
E-book (Kindle)

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