Although it took a while since being approved by the Nevada Gaming Control Board and the Nevada Gaming Commission back in 2005, Wynn Las Vegas took its first out-of-state Thoroughbred racing bet in December.
John Avello, Wynn’s Director of Race and Sports Operations who is renowned as one of the most innovative bookies on The Strip when it comes to catering to horse players, came up with the idea and said he currently has about 20-25 tracks in seven states now participating, some of whom he said are "still pending necessary approval."
Avello, who also caters to in-state customers who would like to bet those specific tracks over the telephone, said he was just happy to finally get this baby up and running, and said that the program is still in its infancy.
"I have about 35 in-state (customers) and only have one out-of-state. And to be honest with you, I didn’t know what I would end up getting out-of-state," Avello said of the new service’s initial response.
"I didn’t anticipate getting much. I just wanted to get one account going because we’ve been working on this for three or four years and I didn’t want to let this thing die so I wanted to take a (out-of-state) bet and I did."
Avello said the new service — which is currently available to residents of Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio and Wyoming — may be appealing to some customers who regularly bet the horses when they visit Sin City but then don’t play the ponies when they return home.
He conceded that marketing such a novel service, available solely to pari-mutuel wagers, could be a bit tricky but said he would learn the ins-and-outs as it grows.
"How am I going to pursue further customers? I don’t know. I’m not sure," Avello told GamingToday. "I have to make sure that I’m dealing with the correct states. I have to make sure I get all the approval from those states before I take bets from those states. And then the next obstacle is how do I market to a select state with select tracks? It’s a good marketing project. I’ll put a little more time into it."
Wynn takes bets of all amounts on the service and has its own call center at the casino.
Out-of-state customers can open up an account by simply calling or e-mailing Avello at the Wynn and depositing funds. Avello said these out-of-state players build up points for comps at the casino exactly the same way that a regular visitor to his casino does.
With the slow but steady progress being made by Wynn in interstate account wagering, Avello is just happy with the simple reality of legally taking a bet from out-of-state and actually getting the whole process started.
"I needed to get a bet," said Avello, who was the head man at Bally’s /Paris Las Vegas for 15 years before heading to the Wynn in 2005. "We had been talking about it for so long and I needed to start it. I started it and we’ll see where it goes from there."
Anyone interested in setting up an account or with specific questions can call Avello directly at the Wynn at (702) 770-3075.