It never hurts to have been on both sides of the counter when you’re working in the sports betting industry.
Steve Piccolo made a few wagers in his day growing up in Bayonne, N.J., where he lived around the corner from legendary heavyweight boxer Chuck Wepner. He always understood the value of information, and, when used properly, can make for a profitable day.
These days, Piccolo works on the house’s side as a supervisor in the race and sports book at Boulder Station. He gets plenty of data and it helped him make the playoffs in Gaming Today’s 2019 Bookies Battle contest after he finished in a tie for fourth place with a 140-116 record against the point spread.
“I had a strategy, but after three or four weeks, I think I had maybe four people beat,” Piccolo said. “But then the horseplayer in me kicked in. I started looking at the stats and how teams did home and away plus how the teams did against the spread. It was like having the past performances where I had seen how a horse had run.
“Once I had that information, I started to do much better.”
Mike Corrigan, the sportsbook manager at Boulder, passed the property’s contestant torch to Piccolo, who had started in the company back in 2006 as a ticket writer at Red Rock Resort. In 2010, Piccolo moved to Palace Station and eventually became a supervisor there. That led to Corrigan bringing him over to Boulder right after last year’s Kentucky Derby.
“We’re very proud of him,” Corrigan said of Piccolo’s success in Bookies Battle. “He’s a great guy.”
Piccolo said the family atmosphere at Station has been the best part of his time in the industry. Prior to moving to Las Vegas he had worked in a food manufacturing plant in New Jersey.
“I love dealing with the public,” he said. “But everywhere I’ve gone in the company, from the managers to the co-workers to the customers, it’s such a comfortable place to work.”
As a former ticket writer, Piccolo makes sure his co-workers have a good work environment as well as the customers having everything they need.
“It’s about making sure everything runs smoothly,” he said. “Whether it’s putting out the (betting) sheets, making sure the TVs are in good working order or making sure the writers get the break for lunch, you want to make sure everything is right.”
Piccolo, 65, enjoys traveling. He especially likes to visit different racetracks. He plans to get to Keeneland this year, a place which has been a bucket list item for him.
“My dad took me to Monmouth Park as a kid so I got hooked on the horses,” he said. “I’ve probably been to 40 tracks.
“I miss some of the old ones like Garden State, Brandywine and Liberty Bell and I never got to Narraganset and Bowie. But I’d like to visit Woodbine; I love that turf course they have. And I hope to get to Oaklawn one day.”
Perhaps a win in the Bookies playoff contest, which has $500 going to the champion of the 10-contestant field, can help fund one of those trips. Piccolo was 2-2 during Wild Card Weekend and he’s two games behind co-leaders Jason Halpin of Aria, who was the regular season champion, and Johnny Aitken of PointsBet USA. Both went 4-0.
“It’s nice to compete against other jurisdictions,” Piccolo said. “I remember when the contest was just in Nevada and you had places like the Rose Bowl and Churchill Downs. I would go to those places when I visited, starting back in 1974. But a lot has changed since then.”