St. Clair upbeat about business at Eastside Cannery

Feb 16, 2010 5:00 PM

Around Town by Eileen Di Rocco |

One of the nice things about winter in Las Vegas is that it doesn’t last long, and there are usually periods of mild weather to help break it up. After a couple of weeks of cold and rain, we enjoyed a weekend with sunny skies and temperatures in the low 70s.

Wanting to enjoy the balmy breezes we rolled down all of the car windows, put some Billie Holiday music in the CD player (love that lady) and headed out toward the Boulder Strip to pay a visit to Eric St. Clair at Eastside Cannery, a cozy little casino that doesn’t require packing a lunch before taking a tour.

Eric, one of the nicest bookmakers you’ll ever meet, has been head honcho at the EC book since it opened in August 2008. He transferred there from Rampart, another Cannery Casino Resorts property, and before that spent 10 years at the Excalibur.

But, in addition to being nice, Eric is one fine bookmaker. And, he says, he owes it all to two great mentors – the late Bob Martin and Sid Diamond.

Martin – Las Vegas’ premier linemaker for over 20 years during the 70s and 80s and originator of the betting point spread – "taught me that 11-10 will get the job done," Eric remembered fondly.

"Bob gave me great insight into bookmaking and how to create lines. He told me that ‘volume is only good when it’s the right volume.’ In other words, stay away from the wise guys. But I tried not to take advantage of my position as his son-in-law. Since my wife and I were living with him, I didn’t want to make him talk shop 24-7.

"The person that really taught me the business side was Sid. He showed me how to work in the corporate world and the importance of being a stand-up guy. He’s the most genuine person I know."

As we chatted I gazed around the book and, noticing it was moderately busy, wondered how things were going.

"Business is definitely picking up," Eric said. "We had a good football season and some months wrote more business than last year."

And what about that sports book merger with South Point?

"It’s wonderful. Bert Osborne is a good bookmaker and easy to work with, and he puts up a very large daily bet menu. We’re able to offer a lot of things we couldn’t do on our own so our customers have no reason to go elsewhere. In fact, we’ve seen some players come over from the competition."

So what’s next?

"We’ve talked about several things and may possibly do a type of baseball parlay card. We also are looking at promotions for the players."

What about in-running betting?

"It’s a potential new revenue stream and I think all books should investigate it to see if it’s a fit for them. But in-running is not new; we had it at Excalibur in the mid-90s. It didn’t work that well back then; it was a little before its time. Things are different now. The programs are better and bettors are more sophisticated."

Talking with Eric was a pleasure. It’s not often you come across someone so positive and upbeat.

NASCAR AND POKER will join together Thursday, Feb. 25 at the Stratosphere for a one-of-a-kind poker tournament that will support the Dale Earnhardt Foundation’s charitable programs.

For a $150 entry fee that will be donated to the foundation, you will get to play poker, meet your favorite NASCAR drivers and have a chance to win the $2,500 grand prize or driver merchandise. Even if you don’t play poker you can support the foundation by being an exclusive spectator for as little as a $20 donation.

Space is limited so check it out early. Details are available at www.StratosphereHotel.com or www.DaleEarnhardtInc.com/foundation.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Eileen Di Rocco