It was just a few months ago when bettors across Las Vegas were moaning about the consolidation of Lucky’s, Leroys and Cal-Neva books into a one William Hill conglomerate.
We also lost the betting at The Venetian last year when Cantor Gaming leased out the space, and it looks like the wave of the future will have more consolidation where we may have only five or six unique lines to choose from in Las Vegas.
However, on Nov. 1, there will be a brand new place of operation with its own unique lines.
Aliante Station will no longer be a Station Casinos property next month. A management group has been put in place by lenders who were awarded the property as part of Station’s 2009 bankruptcy filing. Station hands the keys over at the end of the month.
Terry Downey, a former Station general manger at several properties, will be running Aliante for the group of lenders. Downey, who got his start in the casino business running sports books, had thought about leasing the space to books like William Hill and Cantor. It would have been a lot easier process, for sure, with such a short turnaround of trying to open the casino smoothly upon taking over.
He also mulled over the possibility of having Station run the book, in the same fashion like they do for the El Cortez. But Downey opted to give Aliante its own book, with its own lines, creating their own identity right out of the gate.
His first step in setting up his own book was finding the right person to be the book director, someone with experience in bookmaking, as well as someone who would be able to market the property. And it didn’t take long for him to find Marc Nelson, who was with William Hill and had run the sports books for the Maloof family at the Fiesta and Palms.
Nelson fit all the criteria Downey was looking for. In addition to being one of the better bookmakers in town who gives bettors a fair shake with odds, he’s a also forward thinker with technology and has a great sense in how a book needs to be marketed.
Marketing the Aliante book will be one of his toughest challenges because the book is tucked away in North Las Vegas on the deep end of the 215 by the Speedway. Nelson will look to embrace the current regulars who visit the book daily while also working feverishly to increase new traffic. And by having their own lines offered, they should see an immediate increase in business from what Station has been handling.
Nelson will be installing software from Stadium Technologies, the company that has their system inside all the Cantor books. One of the features we could soon see offered by Aliante is a phone betting application that Stadium Technologies has, which will increase handle even more.
Betting by smart phones is the wave of the future in Nevada and right now, only Cantor, William Hill and Station have that technology offered to the public. Bettors who search for the best lines can do it all quite easily by phone from anywhere in the state, and they really don’t care where they have to deposit their money. A unique line is golden.
Of all the departments during the Nov. 1 changeover, the sports book will be the biggest challenge, but one Nelson will be up for, another reason he was hired for the job. He built the Fiesta and Palms books and also went through the single biggest changeover in Nevada sports book history when William Hill consolidated 163 locations into one line.
One of the biggest tasks ahead of Nelson is gathering his bookmaking team and getting them all on the same page to follow his style. His first addition was grabbing Fred Crespi, one of the sharpest bookmakers in town who worked with Nelson at the Palms. Crespi was the sports book director at the Palms when Cantor Gaming took over, and his wide range of unique betting options will be welcomed by the public.
The current sports book staff at Aliante will all have the opportunity to retain their positions, but Nelson still needs a few more bookmakers. Since Aliante was a satellite book under the Station umbrella, no one there currently has bookmaking experience. And believe it or not, there aren’t too many people around Las Vegas who have the skills to move numbers since there are only a few hubs. The good ones are currently bottled up at those hub operations.
We’ll keep you updated with their lineup as the “go-live” date nears at the new Aliante along with some of the unique things they offer as it happens. If you do happen to be a skilled bookmaker, you might want to go check Nelson out in their office on property at the former site of the Original Pancake House.
Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Contact Micah at [email protected].