Cameron Hickey is a Cincinnati kid, he loves Las Vegas, and he is proud of his Irish heritage.
But if there’s one thing Hickey wants you to know about him, it’s that he is Coleen Hickey’s son.
“I was raised by a single mother in the ’90s — not that that’s easy at any (time) but especially looking back at it with how females were treated in the workplace — my mother did a tremendous job,” Hickey said.
Colleen Hickey volunteers, tutoring kids in reading and math, and, Hickey says, “takes care of the neighborhood.”
Hickey, 31, now race and sports manager at the Bally’s and Paris Las Vegas sportsbooks, was born in Orlando but grew up in Cincinnati, spending his childhood outdoors, playing basketball, baseball and tennis.
“I’m a product of the west side of Cincinnati,” Hickey said, “same side of the tracks as Peter Edward Rose.”
Like many kids in that Midwestern city, Hickey is devoted to the Bengals and Reds and has a certain reverence for the Hit King who “absolutely” should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame, he says.
“Pete is every west-sider from Cincinnati,” Hickey said. “He may not be the tallest, the strongest. He may not be the most skilled. He’s just the hardest-working man on any field, any diamond.”
Hickey’s grandfather, Jack Hickey, filled a big role in the life of a grandson who never met his father.
The elder Hickey was a first-generation Irish-American who fought in World War II.
“He instilled in me a lot of things at a very young age,” Hickey said. “Rule No. 1 was what it meant to be a Hickey and what it meant to be Irish.
“Things like being Irish and being from Cincinnati are just things I carry with me.”
In addition to his pride in his heritage, Hickey says he picked plenty of other things from an “Irish gambler like my grandfather.”
Jack taught his grandson discipline and a work ethic.
But the Irish tradition, Hickey says, also involves gambling and whiskey drinking.
As a child, Hickey’s grandfather introduced him to the former.
“My mother would almost get mad at him, because I was supposed to go to school and he would take me to the horse track or sports bar,” Hickey said.
He’s convinced his trips with his grandfather — Hickey estimates he missed as many as 80 school days a year when he was younger — to what was then River Downs (now Belterra Park) on the Cincinnati outskirts benefitted him more than whatever was going on in class those days.
Jack Hickey passed away when Cameron Hickey was in the second grade. He’d probably be proud to know his grandson is doing quite well in Gaming Today’s Bookies Battle contest. Heading into Week 14, Hickey is in 7th place with a 104-88 record.
After high school, Hickey stayed close to home, working 40 hours a week while earning a degree from Mount St. Joseph University on Cincinnati’s west side.
He broke into the casino industry at the Horseshoe Casino in Cincinnati and spent time at Turfway Park in Kentucky, 10 miles south of the Ohio River.
In 2014, he transferred to Caesars Palace in Las Vegas where he worked in analytics, matching customers with casino hosts.
It was like getting called up to the majors for a Cincinnati kid.
“I remember my first day,” Hickey said. “I realized, ‘Hey, this is a corporate job.’ It was definitely a change of pace coming from the property in Cincinnati.
“I’ve got all the love in the world for Cincinnati, but in this business, you might as well be in Las Vegas.”
Over the past several years, Hickey has become a devotee of English soccer. During the first game he watched, an Aston Villa-Chelsea match, he decided the winner would earn his support.
He roots for the Chelsea striker Christian Pulisic, whom he calls the great hope of American soccer.
Hickey spent time in London during a stopover on a trip to Ireland. He said Chelsea fans seemed far outnumbered by Arsenal supporters in the city.
But soccer wasn’t the point of the trip.
Hickey, who wears a family crest around his neck, was there to honor “a very proud Irishman.”
These days, Hickey, a kid from the west side of Cincinnati, walks to work from his apartment on The Strip.
“That part isn’t lost on me,” Hickey said. “I have a great appreciation (for what I have). Looking back on young Cameron, if you told me this is where I’d be in 2019, there’s no way I’d believe you.
“Every day, I’m just so happy and thankful.”