MonteLago: Signs of a legend

May 27, 2003 4:58 AM

Casino MonteLago will one day carve a niche for itself in the gaming industry, but in its infancy it is a wonderful reminder of a past Las Vegas legend.

"It reminds me so much of the Desert Inn," race and sports book director Rob Terch said of the lavish resort some 17 miles east of one of the Strip.

"We have many of the best qualities of the DI," said Terch, who worked there from 1995 until the last bet was taken two years ago. "We had the expensive shops, the magnificent golf course, the intimate casino and the understated, yet progressive sports books."

MonteLago is one of the most majestic properties in the world. The Lake Las Vegas course is magnificent as is the village and the two neighboring world-class hotels - the Hyatt and Ritz-Carlton.

With all this going for Casino MonteLago, it’s not hard to understand why Terch was only too glad to become the first sports book manager last week.

"We’re breaking ground in the gaming business using big-screen plasma boards to display odds and lines," Terch said. "It adds a touch a class to the book, along with making it easier for customers to read.

Terch also wants to attract customers to the sports book with aggressive ideas such as having just 10-cent lines for baseball games up to $1.80 and taking at least $1,000 bets on sides.

"We would have no problem taking a grand on a side," he said. "The dime line in baseball makes us more than competitive with other properties. It’s just a matter of getting the word out to people that we are here. Once they come, I know they will stay."

For now, it’s sports book only. However, there have been inquiries about including race betting and the door is open.

"I’m not sure if racing will happen in the future, but there is interest and we will consider it," Terch said. "Right now, the room just isn’t there."

The sports book is working on plans for outdoor Monday Night football parties, adjacent to the sports book. A bar and small restaurant is also part of the sports book layout.

"Time caught up with the Desert Inn," Terch said. "We took all the top qualities of the DI and added some things. Pound for pound, this is the best sports book I have ever been around."

The book won’t bowl you over. In fact, there are only two tellers.

"You don’t need a lot of tellers to be good," Terch said. "Our casual setting will draw a nicer clientele. The customers come over from the Ritz-Carlton and Hyatt. We have 300 homeowners who like living comfortably. A lot of high rollers don’t like big casinos. That’s similar to the way it was at the Desert Inn."

Terch believes Casino MonteLago will be a celebrity hangout.

"If they like golf, which most do, there’s no place nicer," he said. "Imagine having all elegance of the Ritz-Carlton and gaming too. What could be nicer?"