Jason McCormick really isn’t the Grinch from Red Rock.
He’s one of the more friendly bookmakers around town. But McCormick admits there are two times during the year he absolutely doesn’t want to lose to the sports bettors.
And it all has to do with the holidays.
“If you lose Thanksgiving, that’s all going to Black Friday,” said McCormick, the race and sports director at Red Rock Resort and one of the contestants in Gaming Today’s Bookies Battle.
The other two-week stretch that concerns McCormick is right about now.
“If we lose these weeks, kids are getting fantastic Christmas gifts,” he said. “They’re getting their X Box instead of a pair of socks. The TVs start to be 75 inches vs. 45 inches when guys (bettors) have good weeks now.”
It might sound Scrooge-like, but it makes sense from a business standpoint.
“If I lose in September and October, I can handle it because all that money is coming back to bet sports,” McCormick said. “They’re going to be back tomorrow, they’re going to be back the next Saturday, they’re going to be back the next Sunday. The better the week they have, the bigger the bets come the next week.”
The holiday season is different.
“Then it goes to Christmas presents, not next week’s bets,” McCormick said.
McCormick, 43, admits he’s a workaholic who has total tunnel vision on the two priorities in his life – his family, wife Anna and sons Ryan and Jaco – and the sports book. He grew up on the south side of Chicago in Oak Forest and describes himself as a “die-hard Blackhawks and Cubs and Sox and Bears and Bulls fan.”
Cubs AND White Sox? Isn’t that illegal?
“My father (Lee) is a die-hard Sox fan,” McCormick explained. “My mother (Ceci) grew up on the north side, Cubs fan. Twelve years old and younger, it was always Sox for me.”
As he got older, however, McCormick started watching the Cubs on WGN-TV and eventually hanging out at Wrigley Field on a regular basis.
“I transitioned to a die-hard Cubs fan,” he said. “I was working downtown during the summer at RC Cola. I had a graveyard shift – 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. I’d go home, take a short nap, shower and go to Wrigley. Then I’d go back home, shower and go to work. Those were some of the best days.”
He did that from 1993-95 and then made the move to Las Vegas, sight unseen, to attend UNLV. McCormick got his start in the sports-book industry in 1997 as a ticket writer at Bally’s when he was 22 years old. Within a couple years, he had been promoted to lead supervisor and helped open the Paris Las Vegas race and sports books.
It was a rapid rise. Too rapid, he admits. For a variety of reasons, McCormick suddenly decided to walk away from the business and started selling cars at a Mitsubishi dealer. It lasted only six months. He realized he’d made a mistake.
“I loved the money but didn’t enjoy the work,” McCormick said. “I was working 80-90 hours a week. Selling cars didn’t provide any better work-life balance. It only got worse. I realized I wanted to do something I really enjoy.”
So he started back at the bottom, accepting a job as a part-time ticket writer at Fiesta Henderson. He was quickly promoted to a manager’s position at Fiesta Rancho and then got his big break. In 2006, at age 31, McCormick received the ultimate offer to help legendary bookmaker Art Manteris run Red Rock, which is the race and sports hub for all of Station Casino’s properties.
“I was willing to start over and go probably beneath where I should have been and then work my way back up,” McCormick said. “Sometimes you have to go and take a backwards step or face adversity to take a leap forward.”