Sponsorship lifts Sam’s Town to big score

Mar 5, 2002 9:22 AM

Sponsoring a NASCAR race certainly has its privileges.

“This is the most action we have ever taken for NASCAR. Even the Sam’s Town 300 did well,” said Crystal Banschback, race and sports book supervisor at the Boulder Highway casino-resort, which backed Saturday’s 300-mile Busch Grand National race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“We had an awesome day Saturday, not only for stock car racing, but horse racing,” Banschback said. “Customers returned after the Sam’s Town 300 and played the horses. Things went even better Sunday for the 400. It was a plus-plus weekend. All our 694 rooms were filled.”

Banschback said there was more interest this year in the Vegas races than in the past because they were better promoted.

“I think car racing is just becoming more and more popular,” she said. “Out here off the Strip, the races are competition with football. They go all year long, and having a Busch race named for our hotel certainly helps our business.”

Banschback said that the books came away a big winner, with few bettors putting money down on the 400 winner, Sterling Marlin.

“Most of the money was on Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace and the local favorite Jeff Busch,” she said. “I think the betting will be down next week, but not that much. People here love NASCAR and they enjoy betting it.”

Bally’s on the Strip also did well on the 400, and race and sports director John Avello even attended the state’s biggest one-day sporting event.

“The Speedway accommodated 150,000 as smoothly as any event I have ever attended,” Avello said. “I have been to concerts at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) with crowds up to 200,000 and they weren’t handled as well. The hotel was packed and we had a very nice result in the book. The betting was spread out so we were in good shape.”

Avello said the 400 did as much business at Bally’s as the Masters golf tournament.

“They are definitely comparable,” he said. “Plus, the NASCAR fans are extremely well-behaved. Very similar to the rodeo crowd.”

The Venetian apparently didn’t cash in on the huge crowds for the race weekend.

“It’s a different crowd here,” a Venetian employee said. “We don’t have that many race fans at the hotel. Our rooms are in the $300 price range and probably don’t suit NASCAR fans.”