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IP book ‘dressed’ to impress

May 25, 2004 7:28 AM

There has to be some reward for going 32-4 in picking the NFL. Rich Dressler found it six years later by being named sports book manager at Imperial Palace.

"I was making $70,000 a year working in the corporate world in New Jersey," said Dressler, a McDonalds connoisseur. "It was either Florida or Vegas. I spent a couple of weeks here and six years later, I’m still here."

Opportunity knocked last week for Dressler, after Jay Kornegay moved on to take over the race and sports book at Las Vegas Hilton effective June 18. Dressler takes over as the IP’s sports book manager, while Tara Martinez inherits the racebook manager position.

"It won’t be business as usual here at IP, but business better than ever,’’ Dressler said. "I was fortunate enough to be offered a position at the IP six years ago. They allowed me to be creative. I plan on continuing the tradition of being first to provide a variety of bets. It’s one of the best places for customer service. I want to build on that."

But 32-4 ”” this has to be explored.

"When I first came out here, a friend of mine knew Jack Steele, who had a small magazine distributed in casinos here," Dressler said. "He asked me to write a column. That’s when I went 32-4. The column got seen and Winners Edge asked me to write for them."

Dressler sees his role in terms of enhancing the strengths of Imperial Palace ”” hockey night promotions, drive-thru wagering off Koval and loads of prop bets.

"The drive thru predates me," Dressler said. "A lot of people don’t even know it’s on Koval, but we’re going to make sure they do. I want to bring in new things from the wagering and atmosphere standpoint. It’s a must that people have a good time at IP."

Dressler will be able to put his plan into immediate action when the Stanley Cup finals begin this week.

"We will be offering second and third period sides and totals for the Cup finals," he said. "You know I loved baseball as a kid more than any other sport, but now it’s hockey. There is such passion in the sport and the hockey fans that come to IP to watch the games really add energy to the room. We love that and hope that by adding in-game betting, it will increase our audience even more."

Dressler believes bookmaking is a three-part approach.

"I see it as a combination of math, science and psychology," he said. "Of course, you have to be a salesman in this business and know how to market your product. I studied science from Albert Einstein. Good guy, bad hairdo."

If Dressler isn’t thinking of one-liners, he will occasionally reflect upon his band days on the Jersey shore.

"I married early and played in a band along the coast near Wildwood," he said. "That was not a good combination. From a business standpoint, I did make a good reputation in South Jersey and I had the fever to one day become a bookmaker."

Now Dressler is in a position to be a pioneer in the gaming field and he relishes the opportunity.

"I’m optimistic about the gaming industry more than ever," he said. "The revenue in hotels is going up. It’s no longer Sin City. Vegas has become family-oriented, the No. 1 destination spot in the world. I want to sell Imperial Palace to our customers.

That means events going on in the casino beyond the sports book, such as "dealer-tainers" for table games.

"The whole casino stops and looks, except for the security guys," he smiled. "We have Ray Charles, Elvis, Cher and Rod Stewart imitators dealing cards. The public response is absolutely phenomenal. Most players request Ray Charles. I guess they hope he’s blind."

But Dressler’s focus is the sports book and this day, that means releasing NFL total wins projections for the 2004 season.

"Actually we came out two weeks earlier than usual with them," said Dressler, who saved the numbers for GamingToday to preview in this week’s issue.

"It used to be Memorial Day weekend, but we wanted to get them up earlier this year," he said. "Just let people know that they are here."

Dressler is doing a good job at that already.