Jay Rood came to UNLV for the casinos as an exchange student from New Mexico State. And, the student he replaced saw cows in Las Cruces.
The rest, as you say, is MGM MIRAGE history.
"It was a roundabout way of getting to where I am," said Rood, two months from his 40th birthday and successor to the retired Robert Walker as head of the 12 sports books under the MGM MIRAGE banner – 10 in Las Vegas and two in Reno.
"In 1990, I saw the Mirage in the beginning and the handwriting was on the wall," said Rood, a native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, I could see a lot more places coming up after it. What better place was there to work? I could have a job gambling away money."
Rood broke into the gaming business at Caesars Tahoe in 1992. A family emergency caused him to leave his ticket writing position, but the next year he took on a similar position at the MGM Grand and was later promoted to supervisor.
Rood worked under Walker at the Mirage in 2002 and had stints at the Hard Rock and Mandalay Bay before inheriting one of the top sports book positions in Las Vegas.
"Yeah, it’s a long way from the days of pumping out chemical toilets," Rood said. "I actually owe my interest in sports to my dad, whose love for the NFL and boxing made a junkie. That’s the type of enthusiasm I want to bring to the MGM properties."
Rood said he won’t make major changes in the way Walker ran operations, but customers should notice a greater focus on future mixed martial arts wagering.
"You may see a broader betting menu on MMA than in the past," Rood said. "It can’t be denied that MMA has grown substantially and not to capitalize on that would be foolish."
The MGM Grand sports book features plush skyboxes for VIP customers and Rood said he would like to see them added to all the properties’ books.
"They are a great product," he said. "In our books, we want to take an aggressive approach and provide top entertainment value to customers. The new City Center complex will have at least one sports book and attract even more action. People want to bet and have fun."
"Sure, and know that we can accommodate the largest wagers in the state," said Rood, a father of three. "You can see us."
Rood oversees the operations at MGM, Mirage, Mandalay Bay, Luxor, Excalibur, Monte Carlo, Bellagio, New York New York, Treasure Island, Circus Circus, Circus Circus Reno and the Silver Legacy in Reno.