Nevada sports books making changes for football season

Jul 24, 2012 3:00 AM

Start popping the popcorn and enjoy the show about to begin.

Things will get very entertaining in the Nevada sports book business as football season approaches. Picture a pie-chart being the Nevada market and half shaded by 55%. That’s William Hill. They’re making a major dent in the market and that figure doesn’t even tell the whole story.

We’ve also got Cantor Gaming leasing space at the Silverton to operate one of their eight stylish bet shops, getting closer to a coveted locals market. At the same time, we have the firm grip on the locals with Station Casinos, Coast Resorts and South Point while the massive corporations of MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment and Wynn Resorts dominate the Strip.

Those are the players of the table with one side trying to accumulate all the market shares they can while the others try to maintain what they already have.

The major difference between companies like William Hill and Cantor Gaming is they are sports book-only operations. They have to make things work to the fullest and that means taking every customer they can. They don’t have slots and table game revenue as a fall back to soften the blow of a bad day. Sports is all they do and they each have a massive army in place to maximize every opportunity.

The casinos that run sports books better take a strong look at what’s coming at them. It may be easy to ignore a part of the casino that only accounts for less than 5% of all revenues, but there is going to be a major battle for every player willing to make bets and utilize all the newest technology in the world while the rest stand back and watch it happen.

That’s all Cantor Gaming and William Hill do. They run sports books and take it very seriously. Not that every other book in Las Vegas doesn’t, but the other companies have been in a stand-still mode for 20 years just taking what the book earns, rather than investing in the future.

William Hill’s CEO Joe Asher finally has his choice staff in place, an epic one that includes some of the sharpest sports book minds led by Nick Bogdanovich who will be in charge of the bookmaking operation. The “Dream Team” of bookmakers will pump out a large wagering menu bettors at 164 locations across the state will enjoy immensely.

Asher has the re-branding process of the merged Leroy’s, Cal-Neva and Lucky’s sport books under way with the familiar William Hill logo to be seen everywhere. Marketing director Dan Shapiro tweeted a picture of the William Hill logo on the famed Riviera sign on the Strip.

The next task at hand for Asher is unveiling a contest or promotion for football season and hoping everything is in place throughout his large empire, the largest accumulation of sports books ever created. They are like 7-Eleven’s throughout the state now, not an easy managing task. No one has ever done it to that degree.

Expectations are sure to be high from across the pond and they will probably produce numbers that will surpass what was initially budgeted with Bogdanovich being the key component.

The next thing Asher has to take care of is ensuring all PT’s Pub locations remain under William Hill’s umbrella. The key to winning the Nevada market and breaking every revenue figure ever budgeted is keeping PT’s Pubs. There’s no telling how long PT’s agreement with Leroy’s was, but since they were only under a one-year temporary pass from the Nevada Gaming Control Board, it’s likely the length of the contract isn’t too much longer.

PT’s and the Golden Gaming routes are the entire piece of the puzzle in Nevada and the way to win the battle for the local players. I’m not only talking about just the 40 locations within Las Vegas, I’m talking bigger to the tune of over 300 locations on the Golden Gaming slot route throughout the state that could have kiosks set-up.

PT’s is a great place to bet and watch games. They have all the paid sports packages at their bars in closer to home, comfortable surroundings. There’s nothing better than watching the MLB Mix Channel at about 4 p.m., when all the east coast games start. You can watch your game, have a big beer – happy hour starts at 4 p.m., too – bet your games and never have to worry about losing your tickets because all your wagers are within the system on your account.

The sports kiosks in the bars now take cash, but until last year at PT’s, all kiosk accounts had to be initiated at the hub location, along with all deposits and withdrawals. Not being able to wager with cash or get paid on the spot kind of took away the convenience of what was supposed to be convenient.

Vic Salerno changed all that with Leroys and got the temporary license approved. If William Hill can keep their hooks on PT’s Pub, they will have won the battle in Nevada. Whenever that agreement is up, expect several other operations to be giving them a ring to offer their services for a much sweeter deal than they already have.

Until interstate wagering becomes a reality, the Golden Gaming routes are the only true way to expansion within the state because no one is building anything that requires a sports book.