Nevill enjoys his unique Treasure Island sportsbook

Nevill enjoys his unique Treasure Island sportsbook

May 31, 2016 3:01 AM


Most locals avoid the mad rush of tourists on the Strip. Tony Nevill, the race and sportsbook director at Treasure Island, is hoping his mobile sports app can help lure some of them back, albeit in a little different fashion.

“The neighborhood (casino) locations came around and that pulled the business away from the Strip and downtown,” Nevill said. “We’re hoping we can reintroduce our property to some of the folks that may not get a chance to come down. They can see some of the amenities we have just by spending 15 minutes and signing up for our sportsbook application.”

Here’s the key: TI isn’t affiliated with any chain such as Station or William Hill or CG Technology. It is not even part of MGM Mirage anymore. Rather, TI has been an independent sportsbook (meaning it puts up its own lines) ever since Phil Ruffin Sr. purchased the property from MGM Mirage (now known as MGM Resorts International) in 2009.

In an age when customers complain about corporate-run books using nearly the exact same betting lines, Treasure Island offers another option – much like the few other independent books around these days, including the Westgate LV SuperBook, Wynn and Golden Nugget.

“It’s a major benefit,” Nevill said. “It allows us to put a game above or below what everybody else is using. I like to be different. We like to put opinion into the day-to-day activities just to create a reason for people to come to our number.

“We’ll shade one direction or the other depending on how I feel the betting may come or may not come. We’ll try to have odds a little different than everyone else.”

There is a catch, of course, which will keep the big bettors from doing too much damage. Nevill admits TI’s betting limits are set up to accommodate the “traditional bettor” just fine, but aren’t high enough to attract the highly sophisticated sharps.

“I’m not going to get killed,” Nevill said. “The limits are low enough that it’s not going to put us in an adverse situation as far as risk.”

The current mobile limit for a baseball money-line bet, for instance, is generally a nickel ($500). The limit for an NFL side will be a dime ($1,000). Nevill, however, does allow players to make the same bet more than once.

“What we ask our bettors, typically, is if you make a bet (on the app), give us about two minutes to look at the position of where we are on the game,” he explained. “If we need to adjust the pointspread, we will. You can bet it again. Or if we don’t move it, you can bet it again.”

Even if Nevill’s line is shaded one way or the other, there’s obviously not going to be any drastic differences. He or his supervisors are constantly monitoring their computers, which show line moves from other books, both offshore and locally.

The one he watches closest in town is South Point, run by Nevill’s mentor, Chris Andrews, who hired him as a ticket writer at Club Cal Neva in Reno back in 1981. Nevill describes himself as a “late bloomer” in the industry. He was 31 years old when he got his start under Andrews after responding to a newspaper ad.

Previously, Nevill had served in the military, worked as a teller at a horse track in Arkansas and attended three colleges before eventually graduating from the University of Arkansas. He even hitch-hiked out here on his first stint in Nevada and lived in a boarding house while washing dishes at the old Hacienda Hotel & Casino.

“I worked my way through the business,” he said.

The turning point came when he agreed to go to Mexico to run a race and sportsbook in Cancun. He went on to help open a race track in Costa Rica and a sportsbook in the Bahamas before coming back to Vegas.

It was an unusual path, but rewarding in the end.

“No matter how hard you’ve got it, pin your ears back and go to work,” Nevill said. “Find your own way there. Just get on the path and you’ll go for the journey.”

His journey eventually brought him to TI. He’s hoping you’ll come down, sign up for the mobile app, and while you’re there, Nevill suggests visiting the new Marvel Avengers’ S.T.A.T.I.O.N. interactive experience or saddling up at the bar for some BBQ at Gilley’s saloon.

You might even be able to pay for it all because of that extra half point you got.

Dave Dye is a former sportswriter for the Detroit News and He has covered six Stanley Cup Finals, five Final Fours, three NBA Finals, three Rose Bowls and one World Series. Twitter: @Dyedave Email: