Palms’ sports book targets local bettors

November 06, 2001 7:49 AM
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If you could design the perfect sports book in Las Vegas what would it be?

OK, let’s start with a big, simple to read betting menu with lots of options and propositions.

Then you’d have to provide decent limits, and have easy access parking near the sports book. Multiple big TV screens along with little TV’s next to your seat would be nice, too. So would a state-of-the-art wagering screen for all the horse tracks across the country.

This is what the Palms Casino Resort’s race and sports book is going to look like when it opens Nov. 15.

The Palms is ready to become a serious player on the sports betting scene. The town could use another good sports book, that’s for sure. There is one thing the Palms can’t book, however, and that’s NBA. This is because Palms owner George Maloof also has ownership in the Sacramento Kings.

“We’re at a disadvantage there,” said Marc Nelson, race and sports book director for the Palms, “but we have so many advantages.”

Two of these advantages are an independent betting line, since the Palms is not linked to any other sports book, and convenient parking.

The hotel is located just off the Strip on West Flamingo across from the Gold Coast and Rio. A four-story garage is being erected next to the sports book. A drive-up express sports betting window, similar to what Maloof had when he owned the Fiesta, should be ready next summer.

Nelson hopes to get an edge, and counter his not being able to offer NBA, by putting up lots of ”˜props’ and dealing heavily in specialized sports.

“We’re going to give the IP (Imperial Palace) a run for their money with ”˜prop’ bets,” Nelson said.

The Imperial Palace is the undisputed leader offering proposition wagers.

However, the field is open for another sports book to leave a mark in this area, because it’s a pain for locals to drive and park at the IP, and big bettors are turned off by their low limits.

Nelson has recruited an excellent staff, including former IP supervisor Jeff Sherman. He’s one of the most creative golf oddsmakers in the state. Marcus Hurd, who’s extremely strong on motor sports, has also been brought in as a supervisor.

So has Adam Pullen, another creative oddsmaker, who hopes to be able to put up lines on sports that normally don’t get much board space in Nevada such as soccer and tennis. Veteran bookmaker Perry Swanson will be the sports book manager.

Pullen already has plans to make daily lines on various soccer events, including MSL, English Premier League and various European leagues. The Palms bookmakers also want to make lines on different local sports events.

“Anything in Vegas we’re open-minded to,” Pullen said. “We’re going to try to be real aggressive.”

The question is will Maloof give them the freedom, or will he be like some other corporate bosses around Nevada who make it difficult for their sports book people by interfering and restricting creative with a climate of ultra-conservatism.

Indications are he won’t. Nelson said he and Maloof put in three years of planning in order to have a top-notch race and sports book.

It was evident a lot of time and money were invested to achieve that goal, during a sneak preview last week at the race and sports book. There are 45 big screens and 100 seats featuring their own TV’s.

There are also around 50 Interactive Player Terminals (IPT) for race players. These are similar to ATM machines. Bettors can make their wagers, look up their account and get all the track information they need just from using an IPT.

The IPT updates current odds, lists track conditions and any jockey changes just like at the track. Every track can be processed. The Palms has pari-mutuel race wagering.

As for betting limits, Nelson stressed they are negotiable for house players. For locals, they are $10,000 on NFL sides, $2,000 on totals and $2,000 on the money line.

In college football it will be $5,000 on sides, $1,000 on totals and $1,000 on the money line. In college basketball, it’s $2,000 on sides and $500 on the money line and totals.

Certainly the potential is there for the Palms race and sports book.