Egads! A threat to Vegas

Jun 19, 2018 3:00 AM

It’s on! The first threat to Las Vegas’ lock on the domestic, legal sports betting market took place in Delaware on June 6 when Dover Downs opened the first full-scale sportsbook outside Las Vegas with William Hill as its risk manager.

It’s “Las Vegas light” but more than adequate and shows Delaware did their due diligence. Plenty of TVs, although without the overkill of LV offerings. Digital odds boards with William Hill’s sharp numbers, food, drinks... you get the idea.

Las Vegas casinos were granted race/sportsbooks in 1976 but then Las Vegas was self-contained. We had a lock on domestic, legal gambling. Race/sportsbooks would only add to the LV experience and handle then. No way are they a detriment.

It all changed with the Supremes’ sports betting decision last month. Now more states with racinos and casinos will add sports betting in some form. The smart move will be to partner with William Hill if they aren’t already home to a Las Vegas branded casino.

Those two choices will be ignored by some bureaucrats and politicians who won’t cede any power or control. They’ll go up against the betting public with their egos and not much else. Two things will happen to these geniuses. They will cost their state’s bankroll to take a big hit and/or they will be forced to make their odds so outlandish they’ll have no business.

Back to 1976 when the Stardust unveiled their mega book. It was a magnificent facility as envisioned by Lefty Rosenthal. It was the template for today’s ultra-mega books found only in Las Vegas, USA. I was working at Churchill Downs sportsbook at the time and the smart money said the Stardust would put Churchill out of business. Guess what? We not only survived but had to hire additional writers.

In an ironic twist I ended up managing the Stardust from 1983 till 1991. Other hotels soon opened up bigger – and they thought better – race/sportsbooks to counter the Stardust’s phenomenal success. We kept ahead of them with ideas they considered bad for their sports betting bottom line.

On my watch we began 24-hour cashiers, sports betting chips to legally counter the $10,000 Federal reporting requirement, safe deposit boxes for sports bettors; provided a free phone room so players would never have to leave the Stardust; our own huge phone betting business. We were the first to televise every NFL game and tons of colleges, thanks to K band technology we beat everyone else too.

Of course, I had top shelf help. Sports supervisors Richard Saber (of GamingToday), Patty Garret, Sylvester Vallela, R.J. Johnson, D’wayne Mauldin and also Phil Gelardi in the racebook.

We left untouched what brought us to the dance, e.g. our race and sports odds and results boards conceived by Lefty. We provided free Daily Racing Forms and, maybe the most radical move yet, established The Sports Handicappers’ Library where we shared with our players every bit of information we used to make our nationally followed, in-house, first-out opening sports odds.

What can the super modern, technology-driven Las Vegas books do today to maintain their lofty, well-earned status? There’s not much more in the way of amenities they can provide.

It’s easy to envision the rise of e-gaming and the opportunity to outfit mega e-gaming facilities. Las Vegas gambling revenue went from number one to now playing second fiddle to entertainment, dining, shopping and the nightclub scene. The rest of the country’s casinos and racinos can offer a complete copy of Las Vegas now by adding a sportsbook.

It’ll be a poor quality copy but why go to Las Vegas.