Manteris happy to head to HOF

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Art Manteris was probably a Hall of Famer long before he became one. He just didn’t think about it.

The vice president of race and sports for Station Casinos who rose to prominence in the 1990s as sports book manager of the Las Vegas Hilton’s SuperBook, will be honored April 25 in New York as a member of the Sports Betting Hall of Fame’s 2019 Class.

Manteris, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Monmouth Park chairman and CEO Dennis Drazin are the inductees.

“This came out of nowhere,” Manteris, 62, said of the honor. “I was a bit reluctant to accept the honor. But it’s more about Nevada and the people I work with and work for that make this special for me.

“I’m very proud of my company, my team and my industry.”

Manteris, who has been in the industry since 1978, has worked at some of the biggest casinos in Las Vegas, including Caesars Palace and the Hilton. But he has been off the Las Vegas Strip for quite a while now and as a local, the Pittsburgh native finds himself catering to those who live in Southern Nevada.

And in this age of mobile apps, phone betting, in-game wagering and  hi-tech algorithms, Manteris has kept up while at the same time providing a modern, comfortable environment for his customers.

“I pride myself on not letting myself become a dinosaur,” he said. “I cringe when I hear the about ‘the good old days.’ I won’t adhere to that mentality.”

So Manteris and Station push the mobile app. It pushes the in-game wagering. It reaches out to the next gratin of sports bettors, millennials who rely on their phone for seemingly everything. And when they come to one of the Station’s 19 properties, they find themselves sitting in comfortable sports books with state-of-the-art humongous TV screens that can be adjusted to either show one event or several. They get LED boards displaying the latest odds that are easy to read. The TV sets at the seats in both race and sports are easy to operate and offer a clear picture.

Manteris wouldn’t say what Station has spent to upgrade its books but it’s easily in the millions of dollars.

“It’s my motivation,” Manteris said of the importance of customer service. “But you can be anywhere on the floor and you’ll see the same thing. There’s an emphasis on guest services but having a quality product to offer is not too far behind.”

Like all sportsbook executives in Nevada, Manteris is closely monitoring the growth of the industry as far as jurisdiction along with in-game wagering and mobile phone betting.

“So far, it hasn’t impacted Nevada negatively,” Manteris said of the seven states that have legalized sports betting in the past year. “We were busy in town for the Super Bowl and the NCAA Tournament like always.”

Manteris said the decision by the major professional sports leagues to partner with the casino industry was interesting.

“I admit I didn’t see league participation coming,” he said. “But as far as integrity goes, we here in Nevada have always been held to a high standard by the gaming commission. A license is very hard to get and it’s tough to comply with all the regulations. But in the end, it’s about making sure the public’s confidence is high. We have a great track record (in Nevada) when it comes to public integrity.”

And while Station has and promotes in-game wagering, Manteris isn’t sure it will be the be-all end-all some industry analysts predict it will be.

“I’ve been following in-play wagering around the world,” he said. “I think the jury is still out on U.S. in-play demand.”

Manteris and his staff are working on promotions for the upcoming college and pro football season. The “Last Man Standing” contest continues to grow in popularity and the recent “Last Man” for the NCAA Tournament did ­record numbers in terms of entries.

“We’ve taken a real aggressive approach to promotions in race and sports,” he said. “The guys I work with love the industry. And whether it’s hosting handicapping seminars, having promotional giveaways or doing contests like Last Man Standing, they have a blast running contests and setting the next week’s football opening numbers.

“I mean, it’s only April and we’re brainstorming over football. We met for two hours last week to talk about how we’re going to promote football this fall.”

Hockey is also on Manteris’ radar. The Golden Knights helped spike betting on the NHL significantly last year and the team’s Stanley Cup run in 2018 made for some nervous times at Manteris’ office.

“I was sweating last year’s Stanley Cup Final,” he said. “But the Knights have captivated everyone here in town and our NHL handle has been up significantly.”

Manteris and the other bookies in town learned their lesson. This year, they adjusted the price on the Knights to win the Cup and the exposure is significantly less this time around.

“It’s great for the city to see the success the Knights have had,” said Manteris, whose company has done several promotions in conjunction with the team the first two seasons of the franchise’s existence. “There’s a lot of excitement in here whenever they play.”

And if the Knights are still playing next week while Manteris is back East, he’ll have to find a TV to watch the game. Or perhaps he’ll do it in 2019 fashion and watch the Knights on his phone. After all, he’s no dinosaur.

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About the Author

Steve Carp

Steve Carp is a six-time Nevada Sportswriter of the Year. A 30-year veteran of the Las Vegas sports journalism scene, he covered the Vegas Golden Knights for the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 2015-2018.

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