Venetian sports book silently making noise

May 12, 2009 5:07 PM
On The Mark by Mark Mayer |
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When it comes to the race and sports book, the Venetian resort will gladly sacrifice self-promotion in exchange for excellence.

"What we can give our customers absolutely outweighs any exposure that we might receive," said Rob Nerenberg, one of the Venetian’s race and sports supervisors under head man Rob Akers, who has been at the resort since it opened up for business 9½ years ago.

"The fact we were the first to come out with the over / under totals for the NFL is nice, but we just take it as part of our job to be a futures friendly book," Nerenberg said.

Venetian is part of the growing trend among Las Vegas books to create a niche in a particular sport. Excalibur is pushing horse racing, Stratosphere boxing and Venetian is all over Mixed Martial Arts and Ultimate Fighting.

"We’re hoping to be making a reputation in MMA," Nerenberg said. "We will have odds on five or six fights with higher limits. It’s our goal to be on the forefront of MMA action. Our book picked up on the sport’s increasing popularity ever since UFC 40. Seeing boxing decrease in popularity over the past five years, we have been focusing on booking as many MMA and UFC fights as possible."

Nerenberg is among 6 supervisors under Akers, who has been in the industry for 15 years and worked previously under Jimmy Vaccaro and Ross Culver at the Mirage. The Venetian book employs a staff of 12 writers and can seat up to 150.

"It’s important to put out the type of numbers that will make customers want to come back," Nerenberg said. "The $20 wager figure to gain drink tickets is one of the lowest around. And, I think our odds are a lot more player-friendly than other books."

But it’s this book that could be considered a sleeping giant.

"Yeah, you just might say that," Nerenberg said. "We won’t get to the point of Jay Kornegay and the Las Vegas Hilton. His reputation speaks for itself. I’m very happy that the Venetian is an independent book making its own lines. Not being a satellite is a big advantage for us and our customers."

The Venetian also is the first book to put up NFL futures odds for teams making or missing the playoffs.

"New England is the favorite at -450 to make the playoffs and +325 to miss them," Nerenberg noted. "Detroit is the longshot at -550 to miss them and +375 to get in. That may seem low, but remember Miami and Atlanta made it last year."

An extra perk for the Venetian is having the neighboring Palazzo as its satellite book.

"We think of the Palazzo as the ESPNZone with a sports book," Nerenberg said. "The book gets a lot of volume and a real asset for us."

A little recognition!

For some reason when one of our columnists is invited on a local radio show, there’s no mention of any tie-in with GamingToday.

Why that is I don’t know and don’t really care. What’s important is that when guys Micah Roberts and Andy Iskoe appear back-to-back on a show that they should be cited as working for GamingToday as much as any other company.

Courtesy does go a long way.

Wednesday’s best:

Braves at Mets: The red hot Mets start lefty Jon Niese, who tossed eight shutout innings vs Atlanta last September. Jo Jo Reyes is 0-9 lifetime in the bigs and has an 8.74 ERA vs the Mets. METS.

Nationals at Giants: Shairon Martis is 4-0 on a last place team. Not bad. Also not bad lately is the much maligned Barry Zito. His ERA is down to 3.57. UNDER.

Dodgers at Phillies: Jamie Moyer off one of his worst starts ever and that’s going back three decades. He and Phils should be pumped facing Randy Wolf, an ex-Phil. PHILS.

Mariners at Rangers: Jarrod Washburn and the M’s are slumping. Brandon McCarthy is 3-1 for AL West leader Texas. RANGERS.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Mark Mayer