Suncoast: A casino around golf, stroke of genius

Nov 20, 2012 3:00 AM


What immediately hits you about the Suncoast Hotel & Casino is the beauty of the Summerlin area. There’s a lot more commercial development out here now than when Suncoast was born in 2000.

And, a massive parking lot.

“It is a great property,” said Eddie Ricca, who has been the director of race and sports since the Suncoast’s inception, having come over from the Gold Coast after a 14-year stay. “It’s nice to be a part of Boyd Gaming.”

Rampart is close by and Red Rock is in the area, but Suncoast, perhaps more than any other casino/resort, benefits from a community that loves golf. Depending on which room you occupy there is a view of Badlands and Angel Park. If you look real hard, TPC Summerlin is in the distance.

“It is nice to have the golf courses so close,” said Ricca, an East Coast native who began gambling at age 10 and first played at Resorts in Atlantic City. “Obviously golf is a great attraction for our customers. I would say about 90 percent of our players are local.”

Suncoast is also delightfully simple,  – which fits into the Northwest Las Vegas landscape.

“Our players are just as nice and friendly as any place I’ve seen,” Ricca said. “From the race side, we have purposely limited all the electronics and hi-tech because that’s the way our customers like it. Wallboards are a tradition here and from surveys we’ve done, our players want us to keep them just the way they are. Here we think eat, drink, gamble.”

And as typical of Boyd Gaming, a heavy emphasis on comps.

“We believe comps are essential to having the very best in customer service,” Ricca said. “I am a sports guy and it’s tough to stimulate the younger crowd. We do a lot of double (2x) points, which means four percent back toward comps. People love to come to a place that emphasizes comps.”

Suncoast, like all Vegas books, sees football as king. Horse racing is pushed heavily here, but there is no question which sport butters the bread.

“Football is a monster,” Ricca said. “The sports side has more of a venue for novices. It is everyday and I don’t see it slowing down at all. Racing is a great sport to see live. We just don’t see the new faces you do on the sports side. And that’s sad.”

Ricca sees a time when horse racing will come down to just major tracks and Friday, Saturday, Sunday cards. That said, he has been able to keep a full staff of 20 ticket writers and four supervisors.

“We groom them well at Suncoast,” he said. “My top writer Mike Lewis was promoted to manager at Gold Coast. I like to take credit for that. Boyd promotes from within. Everyone works.”

Ricca also knows how to get the message out about Suncoast, participating in radio shows hosted by Brian Blessing and Ralph Siraco along with dropping a compliment to a publication that prides itself in “news you can bet on.”

“Gaming Today is like a bible for our race and sports players,” Ricca said. “It’s been over 25 years for me and our players appreciate having it.

Just like we rehearsed it, Eddie. LeChaim!

Mark Mayer has over 35 years covering sports events and is the sports editor at GT. Reach him at [email protected].

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