A book with ‘Wow’ factor

Prior to arriving in 2003, Matt Metcalf wrote letters to three prominent figures in Las Vegas’ sportsbook scene.

One of the trio, then-Imperial Palace boss Jay Kornegay, responded. So Metcalf packed his things and moved to booming Las Vegas at 23 to embark on a career in an industry he had been enthralled with while living in Fort Lauderdale and began working for Korn­egay.

“I remember very early working with Matt that we had a special kid on our hands,” said Kornegay, now the vice president of the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. “He shot up the depth chart very quickly, deservingly so.”

Metcalf’s career comes full circle Wednesday as he opens the world’s newest and largest sportsbook at the Circa Resort and Casino. The beautiful three-level sportsbook is highlighted by a 78-million-pixel high-definition screen, 350 seats stadium-style, offers tasty foods upon order from Victory Burger & Wing Co., Saginaw’s Delicatessen and Project BBQ, a Vegas Stats and Information Network (VSiN) on-site studio, and an old-school Vegas vibe Metcalf has come to appreciate.

“This sportsbook is a representation of everything I’ve learned in my 30 years of being interested in sports betting and 20 years in Las Vegas,” said Metcalf, who has been running the sportsbooks at the Golden Gate and The D casinos since 2018. “I think it’s a room that creates energy and creates a feeling that this truly is a mecca for sports betting, where people want to congregate and pay tribute to their love of sports betting.”

Metcalf said his time working under Kornegay at the Imperial Palace and Westgate taught him the most important aspect of all is customer service. Trying to avoid the cliché “the customer comes first,” Metcalf said Korn­egay taught him to respect every bettor that walks through the door, whether they’re playing a $5 quinella, or a $100,000 NFL side bet.

“You can treat 99 people out of 100 perfect and interact with them and treat them with respect, (but) if somebody on your team makes a mistake toward one person, it has the power to throw everything you’ve done to the side,” Metcalf said. “It has made us stride for perfection.”

Metcalf’s love for old school Las Vegas took him to the historic Gamblers Book Store, where he found archives of sports-betting articles, prompting him to spend roughly 100 hours admiring and reading stories from some of the town’s all-time great sports writers.

Metcalf handpicked about 50 clips and/or spreadsheets from different publications that paid tribute to sports books and sports betting and had them laminated within the top of the VIP tables.

“That to me kind of solidified and brought it all together,” Metcalf said. “Once you see that, it’s obvious how much we appreciate the guys before us. These guys are legends who paved the way. We think we’re doing it the right way based on what those guys have done.

“I think it’s a complement to this book that we’ve built to actually have a product that (Circa owner) Derek (Stevens) can stand behind and say, ‘this is a good sportsbook product’. We’re taking care of limits. We’re not discriminating against our guests. We’re just here to take action.”