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Bookies speak out on issues

Aug 24, 2004 6:32 AM

A group of Las Vegas sports book directors recently gathered together to discuss the state of the industry, and air their feelings about the direction of sports betting in Nevada and beyond.

While the "summit" was an informal affair, there were plenty of sparks flying, especially on the topics of off-shore betting, online gambling and tout services.

Sports book operators may get together later this year or after football season, and any and all sports book managers and directors are encouraged to weigh in.

The government threat

Jimmy Vaccaro (Atlantis, Nassau): "It’s over-exaggerated. I don’t think it will ever come down to them taking steps to eradicate sports books. I can see a time when we can sit down and discuss the differences in this type of forum.

Vinny Magliulo (Wynn Las Vegas): "We have been given the ability as operators in recent years to voice our opinions as companies through the Nevada Resort Association. Our politicians echo our sentiments. As long as that continues, sports betting will be fine in Nevada."

John Avello (Bally’s): "There are too many pressing issues globally for them to worry about us. When things cool down, we will have a fight on our hands again. Nevada is where people like to come. Sports books like ours at Bally’s are here to stay."

Touts: Good or bad?

Eric St. Claire (Rampart): "Great as long as their figures are accurate. I need to validate them. If they want to talk about three games, I value that. It’s there for everyone to look at."

Avello: "I know a lot of them and the ones who do the work have my respect. I feel bad for them when they are not having a good week. I also know that there are a bunch playing both sides and not being honest."

Differences in today’s betting

Jamie Shea (Hard Rock): "At the Rock, people will come in and play their bets. They are not as likely to be swayed by public opinion. Our crowd is young and high energy. It’s a growing trend from past years."

Magliulo: "It’s more challenging now, because we have more responsibilities. You have to wear many hats — human resources, marketing, CPAs. We have to accomplish many more things now."

Pro teams and Vegas

Wayne Braddock (Eldorado): "I can see us getting an NHL or NBA team. High rollers in casinos would be given comp tickets. We have enough people here that work all kinds of shifts. You can count on many having time to attend the games"

Avello: "I can see a pro franchise here down the road. Vegas is growing fast. There are 1½ million in Clark County. People here are locals, who have lived everywhere and follow different teams. As town grows, we can support NBA and baseball."

The overseas affect:

Shea: "Obviously since I am going over there (to England), I see tremendous opportunity. I don’t think it will take away from Las Vegas. I just believe there is an increasing market that will not go away. I am excited to be a part of it."

Magliulo: "It creates an awareness that helps keeps us sharp. Super Bowl 21 had a dozen prop bets and it has grown from then. Vegas puts on an event better than anyone. We had two nonpublic teams in the Super Bowl last year and set a handle record."

Props vs. straight bets

St. Claire: "People want to turn a toothpick into a lumber yard. Most people want to bet $5 to win 50, not $5 to win $4. The more ways you allow that for the customer, the better it will be for the book."

Shea: "Props have led to an upgrade in fantasy football interest. They go hand in hand and offer bettors something other than straight betting and parlays to wager."

Changes to gaming

Braddock: "I am happy the way things are. I get all my info from the Stardust and they take good care of me. I would like seeing more props go up on the Super Bowl and the NCAA (basketball) finals and having them on a weekly basis. My customers are $10-$20 parlay bettors. They want chances to win 20-1, 30-1 shots."

Avello: "In a fantasy world, I would like seeing us being able to book sports outside Nevada. I would have to hire a staff of 100 people to keep operation going. That’s how big. I don’t believe I will see it in my lifetime, but it would be huge from a business aspect."

What would improve gaming?

Avello: "I can see an all-gaming channel. Sports shows like World Series of Poker, guys picking 5-7 games against the spread. I brought up the idea of a $1 million parlay card. We do 15 teams. If someone hit, we would get five times the business."

Avello: "I can see celebs sitting around discussing football. They all want to come here. Great shows, great food. All this extends to the books. Vegas couldn’t be hotter right now."

St. Claire: "Paris Hilton, here betting, would improve gaming."