Rio upgrades its sports book, comp policies

Jun 4, 2002 12:11 PM

The "bet and breakfast" comp symbolizes the Rio’s efforts at bringing the "hip" crowd back to the race and sports book.

"We want to go back to the way things used to be done in Las Vegas," said David Pemberton, race and sports book manager at the Rio. "We want to comp our customers the right way, based on how often they come in and not the amount they bet. We do it by a face, not a card."

The comps, which would range from scrambled egg breakfasts to pizza and sandwiches for lunch, are part of an expanded plan to upgrade the resort’s race and sports book to a level comparable to its competition.

"We are bringing in new machines called T3s and getting rid of the outdated autototes that slow the ticket-writing process," said Pemberton, who came over to the Rio from Harrah’s, the parent firm. "The new machines are part of the overall improvements we hope to have finished by late June."

Plans to remodel the Rio book were proposed more than a year ago when the resort was placed under the Harrah’s umbrella.

"The decision to expand received the final approval last March," Pemberton said. "The transition has been slow because we did not want to close up the place. This is a beautiful property, which had a race and sports book that was not kept up. Now, it will be a beautiful room. Expansion was necessary. We were being passed by."

Pemberton said that the presence of neighboring hotel resorts such as the Gold Coast and Palms figured into the Rio’s expansion plans.

"The Palms has a nice sports book and people do like to visit a new place when it first opens,’’ Pemberton said. "We feel that the improvements to the race and sports book will bring more people into the Rio as well as complement what Harrah’s is doing at the Strip."

The new carpeting is already in place and three additional 70-inch TVs are being brought into the sports book. When the project is finished at the end of the June, the Rio will be capable of showing seven games on giant screens.

"The enlarged area will also have one giant wallboard showing scores, schedules and odds," Pemberton said. "We took out tables and added TVs. We kept the booths and moved around the board so that everyone could see it easier when making a bet.

"We will have 80 seats in the race section, each with individual televisions," he continued. "There will also be 15 booths that seat four people each. There will be a giant wall of TVs in the sports portion, which has a capacity of 75 seats."

The upgrade will be in place well in advance of the football season.

"We really needed everything done by then,’’ Pemberton said. "I think this will be a great venue for watching football this fall. We are looking to attract the locals, while also appealing to the crowds that go to Harrah’s."

ALSO: The Rio is in discussion with having the Jerry J Power Page for racetracks available for customers. Jerry J may also do some seminars at Rio... Tom Jenkins is the general manager at both Harrah’s and Rio”¦ Bill Sattler, former race and sports director at Rio, is now the supervisor at Harrah’s. Pemberton and Sattler switched hotels last September when Howard Greenbaum took over at Harrah’s.