Given his career, it takes a lot to get Bob Scucci excited these days.
But with the proliferation of sports betting across the country, the veteran sportsbook executive is helping oversee the growth for Boyd Gaming’s initiatives beyond Nevada.
“It’s an exciting time for the industry,” Scucci, the vice president of race and sports operations for Boyd, said. “But it’s also challenging at the same time. Every state has different regulations and its own set of how they run their sports betting operations. So I’m learning a lot about laws, regulations, things like that.
You have to understand technology. You have to know about compliance. You have to be familiar with the law. There’s a lot of moving parts to setting up a sportsbook in the states that approved sports betting. But that’s the fun part. it’s something new for me and I’m learning and enjoying the challenge.”
Boyd has properties in 10 states and has sportsbook operations in three of them — Nevada, Mississippi and, most recently, Pennsylvania. It opened its Boyd/FanDuel book at Valley Forge Casino Resort last week, just in time for the NCAA Tournament, which tips off in earnest Thursday.
“My focus with my new job is to help Boyd Gaming be the leader in a lot of these markets,” Scucci said. “We’re looking to take what we’ve learned and done in Nevada over the years and apply it to the new markets.”
Scucci, 54, whose parents both worked in the industry, started as a ticket writer at Sam’s Town back in 1989. He later worked at the Stardust and said Boyd has been wonderful to him and allowed him to move up the ladder in its R&S division. He is looking to do the same for those under his command in Nevada and give them opportunities to gain promotions.
“To Boyd’s credit, we prepared for this,” he said of filling management positions for the books in Mississippi and Pennsylvania. “We’ve hired a lot of talented individuals with the idea of them becoming managers. We try to promote from within.”
Scucci said Boyd is positioning itself for when sports betting becomes legal in Louisiana, Illinois and Indiana. Plans are already being made for when those states can accept bets and Scucci said the Nevada template will likely be used for those states if and when they come on board.
“We have a lot of experience (in Nevada) and have had a lot of success,” he said. “So it makes sense to apply that knowledge in the other states. It’s part of our goal of making Boyd the leader.
“A lot of my job is educating the various governmental entities and explain how things work. There’s a lot of misconceptions about what we do. But once I explain it to them, they seem to be a lot more comfortable with the idea of sports betting.”
In Nevada, the NCAA Tournament is one of the biggest events on the sportsbook calendar. Only the Super Bowl comes close to matching the energy, excitement and handle. And the reality is because the tournament is three weeks long compared to the one-day event that’s the Super Bowl, the handle will be larger.
“We’ll have free viewing parties at our Las Vegas properties,” Scucci said of Boyd’s Big Dance plans. “We’ll open up the Mardi Gras Ballroom upstairs at The Orleans and we’ll have food and beverage specials. We’ll also have betting windows available.”
But the big push will be with mobile betting. Like most Las Vegas properties, Boyd has pushed its “B Connected” mobile sports app hard to get people to have the convenience of using their phone to wager and not waste time standing on line to make their bets.
“We’ve been seeing a steady increase in mobile phone betting,” Scucci said. “We’ve seen anywhere from a 10 to 15 percent increase year after year during March. People are getting more comfortable with using their phone to bet and younger people do everything with their phone, so it’s perfect for them.”
Scucci said those who resist opening an account do so because they’re accustomed to receiving free drink coupons when they bet. He said the free drinks are still in play when betting with the app.
“You still get all the perks and you don’t have to wait on line to bet and you won’t get shut out,” he said. “We’ll actually offer more drink tickets when you use the app.”
Scucci said he expects widespread action on the tournament given there’s no prohibitive favorite.
“I think it’s wide open this year,” he said. “There’s a lot of parity in college basketball. All it takes is to get hot at the right time.”
Sort of like the sportsbook industry itself, not to mention Scucci’s own career. The timing could not have been better to activate betting across the country and Scuci and Boyd is part of that growth.
“You’re right,” Scucci said. “Timing is everything.”
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