Cole has a unique road to Aliante sportsbook
December 20, 2016 3:01 AM
by Dave Dye
George Cole bet on himself when he flew from Costa Rica to Las Vegas six years ago, at age 38, in hopes of landing a job at The Orleans.
It’s probably the furthest anyone has ever traveled for an interview to be a ticket writer at a sportsbook.
Cole, however, knew he wouldn’t be writing tickets for long, and he was right. He soon became a supervisor for the Boyd Gaming hub before being promoted in 2015 to race and sportsbook manager at the Gold Coast.
Three months ago, he was transferred to the Aliante Casino, considered by AAA to be a “Four Diamond” property in North Las Vegas, to lead the transition after it had been purchased by Boyd.
It’s been an interesting journey for this New Jersey native. He graduated from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania with a degree in Policy Management Studies and considered going to law school at one point.
Instead, he moved to Costa Rica to pursue a dream as a sports fishing captain.
Cole had learned at a young age “to do the things you want to do” in life because you never know how much time you have left. When he was 10 years old, his father died from a heart attack. Four years later, his mother died from cancer.
“It gave me an appreciation for life,” Cole said. “I went down there with a friend. We both liked fishing. We gave it a shot. We bought a small charter boat and had our own little operation.”
Unfortunately, “It kind of failed miserably,” Cole said.
Nevertheless, he stuck it out in Costa Rica, continued to work as a fisherman, made some valuable connections, met his wife, Maggie, to whom he’s been married for 20 years, and they had a son, George IV, who is now 13.
“It was a great 16 years down there,” Cole said, “but I was ready to come home. I wanted my son to go to school back in the States. “If he chooses to go to Costa Rica and go fishing when he turns 22 after he graduates college, power to him, or if he wants to go to law school… I’d like him to have the same options I did.”
One of the friends Cole made while fishing at the upscale Los Suenos Resort and Marina was David Belding, who split time between Costa Rica and Las Vegas and had numerous connections in the casino industry.
Belding helped set up the interview for Cole with Bob Scucci, who is in charge of the race and sportsbooks for Boyd.
Cole got on the fast track and was the logical person to put in charge at Aliante because he had worked side by side with Scucci on numerous projects, including the development of Boyd’s mobile app.
Cole’s first two weeks on the new job, which began Sept. 27, was largely spent transferring many of the 500 customers with the Aliante independent mobile account over to Boyd.
Aliante, located just off the 215 Beltway, between I-15 and US-95, originally opened in 2008 as a Station Casinos property before that company filed for bankruptcy.
Boyd is determined to maintain the Four-Diamond status while upgrading some aspects, especially the quality of entertainment. Timothy Schmit of the Eagles is scheduled to appear in the Access Showroom on Jan. 28.
Cole said their philosophy is if they “can just get you up here to check it out,” Aliante will win you over with the overall quality of the place.
He recently unveiled one of his own promotions in sports with a “Second Chance” bowl special. Anyone making at least a $50 straight bet on a bowl game, or $20 parlay that includes a bowl game, is eligible.
If the ticket is a loser, it can be redeemed for a raffle ticket that could win a prize, including a table for 10 with a $250 bar tab during Aliante’s Super Bowl party. All of the “Second Chance” prizes will be raffled off Jan. 9 during the college football championship game. A similar promotion for the NFL playoffs is also planned.
“Turning losers into winners,” Cole said.
His sportsbook, which has a popular blackjack pit in the back, recently installed new leather chairs and numerous 80-inch TVs.
All that’s keeping it from being one of the best books around now is an upgrade for the main video boards from the old projector screens to the much sharper LED walls, much like the books at Westgate and Green Valley Ranch have undergone in the last year.