Jay Rood Had Great Run At MGM Las Vegas

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After 25 years working for MGM Resorts International, VP of Race and Sports Jay Rood’s last day with the company will be Friday.

I talked with Rood Monday about his stepping down. And while he understands the direction MGM is moving towards, he’s also sentimental about it because it has been home for so long.

“I grew up with this company,” said Rood, who began as a ticket writer when the MGM Grand opened in 1993. “I took a voluntary resignation in light of the recent direction MGM wanted to go in with their sports books,”

He was promoted several times to supervisor, manager, director at Mandalay Bay and then VP for the entire company.

It’s the perfect tale of success in any business that should give hope to every new employee starting from the bottom that they can make it all the way to the top. The company grew with him as well and made millions upon millions of dollars under his leadership.

But the industry and times are changing in this new frontier of sports wagering since PASPA was repealed. The new direction for MGM is a partnership with GVC Holdings to help expand the MGM brand digitally.

And though Rood won’t be part of it, the New Mexico native wished his soon-to-be former employer well.

“I wish them all the luck and I know the MGM brand will go on and continue to grow,” he said.

In the meantime, MGM sportsbook hub manager Jeff Stoneback will be taking over the day-to-day booking operation while Director Yolanda Acuna will be handling all other book operations.

Stoneback and Acuna are both stars under Rood that have been with the company since the days once known as Mandalay Resorts, MGM-Mirage, and Circus Circus Enterprises.

Rood has been an industry leader over the past decade as VP and his vast knowledge of bookmaking and running 10 books along the strip will be in high demand. If you’ve been reading any national story regarding bets in big boxing matches or the Super Bowl, you’ve certainly read several quotes from Rood.

So where will he be taking his talents to?

“We’re still figuring out the details of my non-compete clause as part of the package I accepted,” Rood said. “But I can say that you won’t see me taking over any Strip properties in direct competition.”

Rood said he estimates that he’ll find a new home before football season, but said the timing was welcomed.

“It came at the right time because it’s been a tough year for the family,” Rood said. “My wife’s sister just passed away after a battle with cancer and my Mom and sister both passed in the last year as well, so it was a good time to take a step back and take a break.”

A break for Rood has been long overdue. I will personally miss all the easy access as a writer he has given me over the years. I loved his no-nonsense quotes. He never minced words, and always told it like it was. Whether his books won or lost, you could never tell from his voice. Always cool, never sweated or at least never showed it.

We’ve been friends ever since getting into the business around the same time in Las Vegas. I liked him from Day One when my old boss Gregg Fischer introduced us when they opened the MGM Grand race and sportsbook together.

What was amazing over his career is how he was able to manage family life so well as a husband and father of three while running a huge operation like MGM so smoothly without ever soiling the brand name with Nevada Gaming Commission issues. He was never asleep at the wheel at home or work. Having balance in big jobs is difficult for many executives to accomplish.

He also took just about any bet that came to the window, including several million dollar bets, which not many in town can say.

This may sound like a eulogy, and I told him it wouldn’t, but it’s important to note that Rood made his mark in a tough industry. It’s a big deal that a 25-year employee at the highest level of a sportsbook is stepping down.

Personally, I’m looking forward to what is next for my friend.

“It’s the end of an adventure, but just the beginning of another one,” he said. 

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