For Boyd Gaming's Scucci it wasn't his plan to be in the family business
August 16, 2016 3:01 AM
by Dave Dye
His father worked in sportsbooks, even his mother took bets.
As one of Nevada’s preeminent race and sportsbook directors, you would think Bob Scucci was groomed for this all along, that this was his plan from the start.
You would be wrong.
Scucci, who has worked for Boyd Gaming (The Orleans, Gold Coast, Sam’s Town, etc.) the last 27 years, graduated from USC in 1986 with a degree in broadcast journalism. His resume includes calling play-by-play for the Trojans’ baseball team. His dream was to be the next Dick Enberg.
The sports broadcasting market, however, was a little different back in those days. ESPN was nowhere near the giant it has become while other regional and national networks either were also in the developmental stages or not even being planned yet.
Scucci found himself covering more city-hall meetings than baseball and football games, which was not why he had gotten into the business. He also quickly realized the behind-the-scenes employees at smaller TV stations seemingly “worked for free.”
So Scucci returned to the Vegas area, where he had attended Basic High School in Henderson, but he still wasn’t ready to follow in his parents’ footsteps, yet.
He actually started in the casino industry as a blackjack dealer at the Barbary Coast, then tried selling insurance for a while and even moved to Florida to get involved with a new paint-removal product.
Not until his mid-20s did Scucci finally take a job as a race and sports ticket writer at Sam’s Town. It was his first step in establishing a career that included being part of making the official opening lines at the legendary Stardust sportsbook before it closed in 2006.
“If the sports TV business had been as widespread when coming out of college as it is now, it might have been very different,” Scucci said of his career path.
He thinks about that at times, but also feels he’s had some of the best jobs around, especially during those exciting times when the Stardust was still at the center of sports gambling while he was there from 1993 until the casino shut down.
“It couldn’t have worked out better,” Scucci said.
While many Las Vegas bookmakers have bounced from one casino to another over the years, even switching sides of the counter to sell picks and information, Scucci has been a rare constant, staying with Boyd the entire time.
It is why “Scooch,” at age 52, is one of the most experienced and well-respected race and sportsbook directors in town.
Earlier this summer, he was invited to speak at the American Gaming Association’s Experts Forum in Washington D.C. Scucci came out of those meetings encouraged that the negative perceptions nationally about sports gambling were changing like never before.
In fact, he started to think legalized sports betting nationally might be only two or three years away. That was until last week when a federal appeals court shot down New Jersey’s bid for legalization.
The optimistic side of Scucci now predicts it could be more like three to five years before other states can make sports wagering legal.
“A little bit longer than that,” said Scucci, who believes nationwide legalization will “only help” Nevada by introducing more people to sports betting and ultimately make them want to experience “the mecca of sports betting” in Las Vegas.
This busy “off-season” for Scucci included adding the two Cannery properties to the Boyd race and sportsbook chain, along with Nevada’s first mobile horse-racing app.
Boyd’s B Connected app, powered by Miomni Gaming, was selected as the field trial and offers every type of bet that can be made in the racebook. Other casinos likely will introduce a similar race app once Boyd’s exclusivity period with Miomni expires in a few months.
“It was very important to us,” Scucci said of Boyd, which puts an obvious emphasis on the race side of its books, getting the first horse-racing app a couple months ago. “We’ve seen steady growth and new clientele.”
With horse wagering otherwise in serious decline in recent years, Scucci and many others are hoping the new app can change the trend and possibly attract a new generation to daily doubles and exactas.
The next step is going to be implementing “virtually live” videos of every race to the app. You’ll be able to bet and watch it, all on your phone.
“Hopefully, (within) eight months,” the veteran bookmaker said. “That’s the goal.”