If you’ve visited a Station Casinos sportsbook in Southern Nevada, you’re accustomed to being inside a fairly good sized room with enormous video walls and LED boards with odds that rotate every few seconds.
But each Station’s book has its own unique look and feel to it. And nowhere is that more evident than at the Fiesta Rancho, located on the intersection of Lake Mead Boulevard and Rancho Drive, across the street from its sister property Texas Station.
Step inside the Fiesta Rancho book and it’s almost like going back in time to The Castaways “Hole in the Wall” book run by the great Sonny Reizner in the 1970s. It’s cozy. It’s comfortable. It’s convenient with free parking just steps away from the door. And the person running it treats it like her living room.
It’s the one Station book other than the Wildfire that does not offer wagering on horse racing. It’s also the only sportsbook in town where you don’t have to get out of your car to make a bet. There are two drive-through windows to cater to customers.
Cindy Ramirez oversees the operation at the Fiesta Rancho and she’s been there 19 years. She knows her customer base and it’s a predominantly local clientele that’s been frequenting the North Las Vegas casino since the beginning when the Maloof family built and ran it back in 1994. It’s also the only casino with a year-round indoor ice skating rink.
“It’s a unique place,” Ramirez said of her workplace. “But I love it. I love coming to work. I love our customers. We have a small, but great staff. We’re like family here.”
Ramirez, 46, is a mother of four so she has her own family to take care of. But she’s also found time to be among the leaders in Gaming Today’s Bookies Battle. Ramirez has made a steady advance toward the upper echelon during the NFL season and she’s tied for fifth place at 121-103 with two weeks to go.)
“It’s all luck,” Ramirez said. “I don’t study and I really don’t watch football. It takes me two minutes to do my picks.”
Ramirez admitted she isn’t much of a sports fan per se even though she oversees an operation that is predicated on the outcome of sporting events. She will watch boxing and the Norwalk, Calif., native enjoys a good fight.
The only reason she got into the business was because her husband was working at Texas Station as a ticket writer in that property’s book and he encouraged her to join him.
Ramirez started out at Treasure Island and then came over to Station and was mentored by Jason McCormick and Bert Cirincione, both who now run the books at Red Rock and Green Valley Ranch respectively.
“I love those guys,” Ramirez said. “They taught me so much.
“I was a little bit scared when I first started. I was young and didn’t think anyone would listen to me. But Bert taught me how to build a relationship with my team and Jason showed me how to learn about the odds and numbers.”
Ramirez doesn’t have to worry about odds adjustments or risk management because everything is done at Station’s hub by Art Manteris and his staff. The limits are set and the big decisions are taking out of play for her.
Still, Ramirez is responsible for the environment of her book and the care of her customers. And while some might think she’s a soft touch because she’s a woman, the opposite is the case. Ramirez is a tough lady and she’s not one who can be intimidated easily.
Fortunately for her, she knows her customers so well, there’s hardly ever an issue.
“They all respect me,” she said of her clientele. “I think being a woman helps me with my job because I have a little more patience and understanding. When you raise four kids, you learn to be patient.”
And with such a small staff, it’s not unusual to see Ramirez at the window writing tickets or handling the drive-thru betting. She still enjoys the interaction with the customers and her experience virtually guarantees that whoever bets with her will get their ticket written correctly and accurately.
“We’ve had a lot of the same people for years bet with us,” she said. “We’ve gotten to know each other well. They’ll bring me sweets or food or gifts. They all respect me which I appreciate.”
Ramirez’s success in the Bookies Battle has also gotten her some respect. She may not study much in making her selections, but there’s a bit of a method to her madness, quirky as it may be.
“There’s four teams I don’t ever pick,” she said. “I never pick the Packers, the Raiders, the Patriots or the Cowboys. It’s a personal thing I guess. I’ll pick the Raiders occasionally because they’re going to be our team (in Las Vegas).
“But I’m enjoying it. People come up to me and congratulate me for my success and the kids, they think it’s pretty cool that I’m in the paper.”
Whether she wins or not, Ramirez does have one objective. She wants to outdo her friend Mario Jackson, who’s at Texas Station. And barring a collapse the final two weeks, she’s going to have bragging rights on the corner of Rancho and Lake Mead.
“We have our own contest,” she said. “I was way behind early on and he was really doing well. But then I passed him and when I pointed that out to him, he said, ‘Be quiet.’”
Maybe Jackson will help pay for Ramirez’s cruise to Hawaii next year. Then again, she’s going for 14 days with her husband whether or not Jackson contributes to the travel fund.
“I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii,” Ramirez said. “So now that the kids are older, I’m going to finally do it.”