Eric St. Clair learned from casinos' best

Sep 9, 2008 7:06 PM

by Kevin Stott | When you’re the son-in-law of legendary Las Vegas oddsmaker Bob Martin, have learned the ropes from a bookmaker as renowned as Johnny Quinn and have a friend like Sid Diamond as a personal consultant, you must know a little bit about sports betting.

Eric St. Clair, the main man overseeing sports and race book operations for Cannery Coast Resorts, is that guy.

A self-described "Air Force Brat" who hails from Hyattsville, Maryland, St. Clair has helped CCR expand its presence in Southern Nevada as director of race and sports for CCR with the Cannery Casino & Hotel in North Las Vegas, the Rampart in Summerlin and the brand new Eastside Cannery on the Boulder Highway "Strip" in Las Vegas which now serves as the hub for the entire Cannery group.

St. Clair, 46, came to Sin City when he was still a kid when his family moved and he attended Las Vegas High School where he played baseball and was a member of the Wildcats’ 1979 team that set a then-record with 18 consecutive wins. St. Clair went on to attend Arizona Western College in Yuma where he continued to play baseball.

His stint in the gaming industry began like it does for a lot of now well-known bookies – as a ticket writer at the old Union Plaza in 1984 under Quinn where St. Clair figured he liked that job more than his former one as a furniture mover.

St. Clair eventually met his wife Stacey – the daughter of Martin – and his 24-year career in the sports gaming industry was well under way with the man who is recognized as originating the "Las Vegas line."

Renowned Las Vegan Jimmy Vaccaro said of the late Martin: "He was the greatest bookmaker that ever wrote down a point spread."

And St. Clair remembers something very simple that Martin said still holds true in the sports books today.

"Bob Martin used to always say, ‘11-to-10 (meaning the 10% vigorish or juice) will get the job done,’" St. Clair revealed. "And that hasn’t changed."

Asked how much bookmaking has changed since his early days at the old Union Plaza, St. Clair said it’s not even close to the good old days.

"It’s changed tremendously since the days of the Wild Wild West," St. Clair said. "There is such a great variety of lines and things to bet on now."

And St. Clair just loves the way CCR takes care of its workers.

"They’re very employee-oriented at this company," he said. "And we try to give them (the employees) all the tools they need to succeed."

Another guy St. Clair credits is Diamond, a GamingToday columnist and friend he met when both of their sons played baseball for Las Vegas High.

"I really think Sid Diamond has influenced me as much as anyone in this industry," St. Clair said. "He taught me how to run a race and sports book."

And the variety of people he sees at the betting window has kept St. Clair’s job always entertaining and is one of the most appealing aspects of his gig.

"I just love dealing with the customers," St. Clair said. "We get such an array of people in our casinos. You can have a little old lady coming up and making her bets, a group of Mormons coming in to bet on BYU or another group pulling for their team and putting their bets in."

And like the help he received coming up from guys like his father-in-law Martin, Quinn and Diamond, St. Clair has been instilling his ticket writers and managers like Kevin Klein (Eastside Cannery), Joe Porrello (Cannery) and Marty Seagren (Rampart) with some of that oh-so valuable knowledge he’s gained over the years about bookmaking and the gaming industry.