A lot of sportsbook directors and managers working outside of Nevada these days cut their teeth in Las Vegas.
Brad Carpenter’s journey started at the old Imperial Palace where Jay Kornegay hired him as a ticket writer in the property’s race book.
That was back in 1999. Today, Carpenter is the sportsbook manager at the DraftKings book at the Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort in D’Iberville, MS, where the pace is a tad slower than on the Strip.
“When I look back on those days, it really helped me prepare for what I’m doing now,” said Carpenter, who is representing his property in Gaming Today’s 2019 Bookies Battle handicapping contest. “Jay was a great person to learn from and a lot of the things I picked up from him I use on the job at Scarlet Pearl.”
Carpenter, one of six contestants from Mississippi, is off to a great start in the Bookies Battle. He is tied for second place at 21-11 through two weeks.
“I remember the contest from my days in Vegas,” he said. “It’s always a fun thing to read and follow and see how everyone does. I’m thrilled to be part of it and I hope we can take home the top prize.”
Whether its customer service, promotions or educating the public on how to make a legal sports bet, Carpenter, 52, is really enjoying working and living in Mississippi.
“It’s been great,” he said. “We’re crushing last year’s numbers and our book, which seats 100, is very comfortable.”
Like any sportsbook, the challenge is getting new customers to feel comfortable enough to where they’ll become regulars and for regulars to feel like they’re always welcome. Fortunately, the DraftKings brand helps in getting the word out.
“Patience is very important down here,” Carpenter said. “I had a woman who wanted to know how much she’d win even though she hadn’t bet yet. But people are quick learners. They weren’t intimidated a year ago when we opened and now it’s like they’ve been in Vegas for 20 years.”
Carpenter has noticed that bettors at Scarlet Pearl enjoy making parlay bets. They also enjoy the privacy of betting at a kiosk rather than interacting with a ticket writer.
“They all like the parlays down here,” he said. “Especially the NFL. You don’t see as many straight bets as you would think though the big bettors, the sharps, they’ll make single wagers.”
Carpenter said the nine kiosks at Scarlet Pearl’s book are always occupied and the three teller windows are enough to accommodate bettors.
“You’d think it would be just the opposite,” Carpenter said. “But folks love the kiosks.”
Carpenter never had designs of working in the casino industry. He grew up near Ventura, Calif., attended San Diego State and was a supervisor for a furniture retail marketing company. But he was a horse racing fan and when he moved to Las Vegas in 1999, he applied for a job at the Imperial Palace.
“I applied for a job as a bartender,” he said. “But they had an opening for a ticket writer in the race book. They offered me that job and I took it.”
A fast learner himself, Carpenter quickly became a supervisor and he learned the importance of customer service.
“When you’re a writer and someone has a problem or a complaint, you simply send them to the supervisor,” he said. “But when you’re the supervisor, it’s your responsibility to deal with the issue and resolve it.
“You also become responsible for more people and make sure everyone is taken care of, whether it’s your staff or it’s your customers.”
He’s also learned how to be a bit of a promoter. Sports betting is still a fresh pastime in Mississippi and Carpenter finds himself being requested for interviews.
“We get a lot of local TV coverage and we have a good relationship with the newspapers and the TV and radio stations,” he said. “Our marketing team does a great job of promoting the property and the sportsbook. We use a lot of digital billboards to help get the word out.”
Scarlet Pearl will have more to promote as it opens its race book just in time for next month’s Breeders’ Cup. For Carpenter, it’s like coming full circle and he’s very excited about offering wagering on horse racing at his property.
“We’ll be a pari-mutuel book but we’ve got to negotiate the signals ourselves,” he said. “It’s not like Nevada where the Pari-Mutuel Association represents all the race books and negotiates with the tracks for the price of the signal.
“But management is behind it and we’re looking forward to having a race book on the property.”