Excalbur set to 'contest' for horse racing market

Apr 7, 2009 5:01 PM
by Mark Mayer |

The Excalibur would like to see its race and sports book again become a palace for the very best contests and service for horse players.

"Even though we are located on the Strip, a lot of people don’t realize that this is a very convenient location for locals," said Glynis Mickelian, manager of race and sports, keno and poker at the Excalibur. "We have easy access off Frank Sinatra Drive and preferred parking right outside the book for VIP race players."

Mickelian came over to the Excalibur last October from a 10-year stint as head of race, sports and keno at Primm Valley resorts. What she saw was a property that had evolved from its original theme of castles, knights and merry maidens.

"The race and sports book had a great setup, no longer the old fashioned wallboards," Mickelian said. "Everything electronic and TV’s and screens situated in a practical and comfortable way for our customers. Plus, being in the MGM MIRAGE family was a nice way to take over."

What Mickelian wants to do is make the race part of the Excalibur book the prominent factor that it had been years before when current GamingToday columnist Sid Diamond ran the book.

"We had a really fabulous thing going when I was at the Excalibur," Diamond said. "We would bring in 1,500 people for our race contests and there was easy access parking for customers. We made horse racing a big deal on the Strip."

And Mickelian has the parts in place for a racing revival.

"We open our book at 8:30 a.m. to accommodate the first race of the day and close around 10:30 p.m. or after the last race goes off," Mickelian said. "We have 25 reserved seats just for race players in addition to other comfortable seating choices. And now we want to promote monthly contests that will stir up interest in our race book."

The first scheduled contest is for Wednesday, May 6 and will continue on the first Wednesday of each month. There is a $25 entry fee and a guaranteed $1,000 prize pool with 100 percent payback to customers. First place will be approximately 55 percent of the pot. The format is for picking winners and quinellas over five races.

"The more people that enter, the bigger the prize pool," Mickelian said. "You can have up to three entries and winners will be based on winning quinellas. We have a chance here to really push horse racing on the Strip and everyone here is really excited about doing it."

Mickelian brought her reputation for strong customer service from Primm and believes that is the most important ingredient to running a successful operation.

"We have generous comps for horse players and additional perks for bettors who wager at a certain level," she said. "We have a $25 a day, an all-you-can-eat buffet with unlimited visits plus 24-hour live keno in the book. It’s still possible these days to be a value property. Our staff is stellar and welcome suggestions for improvements."