Random House Films and Focus Features have optioned the bigscreen rights for “Lay the Favorite, Take the Dog,” an upcoming gambling memoir by Beth Raymer.

Tome, which traces the scribe’s journey into the world of professional sports gambling, is skedded to be published by Random House’s Spiegel & Grau division in spring 2009. Division snared book and audio rights in an auction; bigscreen rights were negotiated separately.

Under their partnership, Random House Films and Focus jointly acquire bigscreen rights for lit properties and partner on all stages of development through marketing and publicity; co-productions are jointly owned, with Focus hanging onto worldwide distribution and sales rights.

Raymer fell into professional gambling in Vegas, where she started working as a cocktail waitress in hopes of making fast cash. Her gambling led her to New York and the Caribbean, with gamblers soon becoming her second family. But when she fell in love, she had to re-evaluate her life.

Raymer, an MFA candidate at Columbia U., will continue to report on offshore gambling in Central America under a recently awarded Fulbright Fellowship.

“Beth Raymer has that extremely fortunate and rare combination of having lived through some extraordinary times and having the means to write about them with assurance and style,” said Julie Grau. “The world she opens up to her readers is fascinating, dangerous, memorable, and terrifically funny.”

Random House Films prexy Peter Gethers said the book proposal “connected perfectly” with the shingle’s literary and film sensibilities. “This is going to be a fun one,” he said.

The project will be part of Focus’s expanded production slate. “Reservation Road,” the first film under the partnership, made its limited debut last weekend.