John Avello and Vinny Magliulo began a close friendship in 1979 as dice dealers at Barbary Coast. Now each has reached the summit of the race and sports industry, running the book at Wynn Las Vegas.
Next week, Avello is expected to take over the operation that was set up by Magliulo, who cited family concerns as reasons for leaving one of the plum bookmaking positions in the industry.
"Wynn is a spectacular venue and I feel honored to be asked," Avello told GamingToday last Saturday as he winds down a 15-year career as head of race and sports operations at Bally’s — and later Paris/Las Vegas.
"I love all the people at Bally’s," Avello continued. "That’s the hard part — leaving all the people you’ve known throughout the hotel. They are a great group and just a pleasure to be around everyday."
There was no scandal, no dirt in Magliulo’s decision to step down after six weeks in the position he helped create at Wynn Las Vegas.
"It’s a matter of family time," Magliulo told GamingToday last Friday. "Working on the creation and opening of Wynn Las Vegas has been the highlight of my gaming career. My decision to leave is based on spending more time with my dad, whose health has deteriorated over the past few months."
Magliulo, 48, has been in the gaming industry for 27 years. He spent 14 years operating the book at Caesars Palace before signing up to help christen the new Wynn Las Vegas in late April. Avello was Magliulo’s first choice as his replacement.
"Johnny will be a terrific fit," Magliulo said. "I’ll be working with him the better part of the summer to make it a smooth transition."
Avello, 52, has been in gaming for nearly three decades, and is regarded by his peers as one of class people associated with the industry.
"Wynn is a new page in my life," he said. "While I am excited to have been selected, I am not jumping up and down because of the circumstances involved with Vinny’s family. There are a lot of sad points."
Avello admitted that he did think about his position following Harrah’s recent acquisition of Caesars Palace and Bally’s, but denied that was the reason he is leaving Bally’s.
"In 25 years in the business, I realize that jobs can come and go all of a sudden," he said. "I want it known that I am leaving on my own account, not because I was forced out or even felt that my job was in jeopardy. The people here have been the absolute best to work for. I just felt this was a great opportunity that couldn’t be passed up."
No successor has been named at Bally’s, but Avello indicated that Chris Eggers was at the top of the list of candidates.
"Chris is the logical choice," he said. She has assisted me in all sports."
The sports book at Wynn Las Vegas has so far received good marks from serious bettors. After it posted NFL Week 1 betting lines, several top bettors applauded the $10,000 limit on sides and $2,000 limit on totals, both of which can be lifted for high-stakes gamblers.
Also well-received were the NFL teaser odds: Wynn Las Vegas pays —110 for a two-team, 6-point teaser when most of the city pays —120.
"The place is going to rock," said local bettor Steve Fezzik, who also hosts a radio talk show. "They appear to be utilizing the 2004 Golden Nugget approach, aggressively booking and taking big limits. I like it!"
Throw in a parking garage that electronically tells you if there are any parking spaces left and you have a sports bettor’s Valhalla.