Jeff Hoose, race and sportsbook manager at Aria Resort and Casino, has seen both sides of the counter in a much different way than most in his profession.
He spent his first two years out of college helping homeless people in Los Angeles try to get jobs. Now he takes wagers from millionaires.
The clientele doesn’t get much more extreme. It all gave Hoose, a participant in GamingToday’s Bookies Battle, a rare perspective.
“I went bald in my twenties, that was probably a contributor,” he said of his job with Chrysalis, a nonprofit organization committed to “changing lives through jobs.”
“It was kind of a high-stress situation,” Hoose said. “You dealt with real-world legitimate problems there. I learned that societal issues are more complex than people give them credit for. There aren’t easy answers. That’s why we have them.
“I get to come to work now in a candy store every day. I’m blessed to work in an air-conditioned building in a room full of TVs, talking about sports with people all day. I’m fortunate to work for and with some of the best people in the industry. Every day is a gift.”
Hoose was 22 years old with an English degree from Sacred Heart, a Catholic college close to where he grew up in Connecticut, when he decided to join the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.
“It’s like the Peace Corps for Catholic people,” Hoose explained. “At that age, you can put your life on hold to go work toward something you believe in.”
Jesuit Volunteer Corps placed him with Chrysalis, which had an office in downtown Los Angeles. He lived in a small house with four other volunteers in East Los Angeles, made $82 a month and was given $100 a month for food plus a bus pass.
At Chrysalis, homeless people could make a phone call to inquire about a job opening, get transportation for a job interview or even proper clothing to wear to the interview.
“Maybe you needed coaching to improve your resume, or how to talk about your incarceration in a way that doesn’t necessarily disqualify you; these were all services that were provided by this agency,” Hoose said.
Hoose stayed on for a second year at Chrysalis after completing the Jesuit volunteer program before deciding to move to Las Vegas in 2004. is first job here was as a mutual clerk, writing tickets in the race and sportsbook at New York-New York.
“I thought it would be fun to change things up for a little while; thought it would be a few months or a year,” Hoose said of coming to Vegas. “I’m 14 years in now.”
He quickly started moving up the chain within MGM, managing the books at Luxor, Excalibur and New York-New York before taking over at Aria, a high-roller type of property, in 2015.
Hoose, 39, can be heard occasionally as a talk-show fill-in on VSiN, the sports-betting network run out of the South Point casino and carried by Sirius XM Radio.
He’s enjoyed the microphone going all the way back to his college days when he was the on-field P.A. announcer and helped run various promotions such as the dizzy bat race for the Bridgeport (Conn.) Bluefish, a minor-league baseball team.
Almost all of his football weekends are spent in the book, but he will try to sneak away for a lunch break if the oldest of his three daughters has a basketball game.
And when he gets the chance, one of Hoose’s favorite hobbies is running the trails in the desert.
“I enjoy the fresh air,” he said. “This is an unremarkable-looking city surrounded by some beautiful places if you get out off of the pavement, if you just get out in the canyons and the hills.”