The sportsbook at the New York-New York Hotel & Casino isn’t the typical Strip gambling palace. There is no stadium seating for hundreds nor multiple 12-foot televisions.
Instead, the small, quiet book looks like it was stuffed into a New York City side alley.
The sportsbook’s recently promoted manager isn’t typical, either. Pauline Worley is just 28 years old. And yes, she’s a woman.
While the number of female sportsbooks managers in Las Vegas is growing, they’re still rare in an industry dominated by men.
For her part, Worley, who became manager at New York-New York in September, says her gender has mostly been a non-issue.
“It hasn’t been that bad to be honest,” Worley said. “Sometimes I’ll get older men who don’t think I know what I’m talking about — but that happened when I worked at Home Depot.
“Surprisingly, most people are very supportive.”
She said people are generally more surprised that she worked her way to her current position in just three years. Worley grew up in Sacramento, Calif., loving sports — especially the Los Angeles Dodgers, whom she refers to as “we” in conversation — but knew almost nothing about sports betting before she moved to Las Vegas.
The decision to leave her hometown came on sort of a whim. After high school, Worley studied journalism at Sacramento City College but grew bored.
“I was kind of in a rut then, and I had some friends who were moving here three years ago, so I decided to move with them,” Worley said.
In addition to the Dodgers, Worley roots for the Indianapolis Colts in the NFL, the Sacramento Kings — “my only northern California team” — in the NBA, and her newest favorite team, the Golden Knights, which is apropos since New York-New York’s is the closest sportsbook to T-Mobile Arena, where the Golden Knights play.
“They got me into hockey,” Worley said. “I was there for the meeting when they were deciding the team name, so I feel like it’s kind of a personal thing. That’s why I’m really into the Golden Knights.”
Not surprisingly, the NY-NY sportsbook takes a lot of wagers on the NHL. But that was previously not the case.
“We get a lot (of traffic), a lot more than normal,” Worley said. “Before they started playing here — I was here — we didn’t get any hockey bets whatsoever. Not even other teams. It was not a popular sport (with our customers).”
The Golden Knights’ arrival, Worley said, caused a big uptick in betting on all NHL games, not just those involving the hometown team.
Other casino departments actively try to drive customers — Worley said the hotel attracts a lot of Canadian guests — to the sportsbook.
“We have a special connection with the team and the fans because we’re so close,” Worley said. “They consider us the sport’s casino.”
Worley said she’s really lucky to work at New York-New York. She also claims she’s a shy person, something that’s belied by her main after-hours hobby: She moonlights on stages at karaoke bars.
Like being a Dodgers fan, Worley said she was born with music. Family members on her father’s side tend to be musically inclined. Her father is a guitarist. Her uncle has a band in Reno. Her grandfather owns a recording studio (Worley has recorded there).
“On my father’s side there are guitar players, mandolin players, singers … nothing on a grand scale, mostly session work,” she said.
In high school, Worley briefly took up bass guitar before deciding she was really a singer.
Worley said her shyness goes away when she gets on stage. She frequents places like Dino’s Lounge downtown and Ellis Island Casino & Brewery on Koval Lane.
The Eagles are her go-to band on stage (“I Can’t Tell You Why” is her favorite song). Worley also does covers of other blue-inspired rock bands and songs by the folksy Avett Brothers. She loves Led Zeppelin, too, but don’t expect to hear her rendition of “Black Dog” anytime soon. She won’t attempt to mimic Robert Plant’s signature high-pitched tenor.