LAS VEGAS — Second-generation Vegas bookmaker Kenny White recalls vivid scenes from his side of the counter, a beautiful scoreboard with games and corresponding odds behind him in different colors.
“My favorite question was people coming in and asking, ‘Are these games being played today? That was question number one. Number two was, ‘What do these numbers mean?’ ”
Veteran punter Jeff Stoneback has seen intimidated customers stumble upon these numbers, -135 and +155, -3.5 and 148.5, and ask what they mean.
Today, such requests are rare.
“It’s much more common now,” said Stoneback, commercial director of BetMGM. “Everyone is more aware.”
Proving just how far understanding of its terms has come and how industry proliferation has not harmed Nevada, the Silver State recorded its first billion-dollar month in sports betting in October 2021.
His follow-up acts were also terrific, 10-digit months in November, December and January.
February’s action will be boosted by a record $179.8 million in Super Bowl LVI betting, wiping out the old norm of $20 million, according to the state’s Gaming Control Board.
And along comes the NCAA Tournament, which made $347 million and $351 million in revenue in its last two iterations, in 2019 and 2021, respectively.
“And it will continue to grow,” White said. “We will continue to break records.”
Art Manteris has seen the future.
In his entertaining and insightful 1991 book ‘SuperBookie’, the famous sports betting manager who opened the impressive SuperBook at the Hilton – now the Westgate – detailed his career and the industry.
When New Jersey added casino gambling in 1978, it called it a Vegas advantage.
“Everyone thought Las Vegas would lose its appeal to the 40 million people living within hours of Atlantic City, but Nevada’s casino industry is stronger today than at any other time in history. .
“Competition helps. . . people in Las Vegas have built new hotels, overhauled their marketing strategies, and upgraded their properties, which has been great.
Bookmaker Jimmy Vaccaro, in the Manteris tome, predicted that 30 states would have legalized sports betting by 2000. It took a little longer to marinate, but Vaccaro “had an idea” that the business “would become crazy”.
In May 2018, thanks to some tenacious New Jersey legal beagles, the United States Supreme Court struck down a federal bill allowing states to pursue their own destiny in sports betting.
Today, 30 states and Washington, DC have legal sports betting. For 2021, the AGM reported a record US sports betting handful of $57.22 billion, nearly halving General Motors’ revenue.
Since New Jersey began in June 2018, its total management has been $25.1 billion, with $1.7 billion in revenue and $210 million in tax revenue. Since Illinois went into service nearly two years ago, its respective numbers are $9.8 billion, $730 million, and $116 million.
Manteris, who ran the Station Casinos sports betting empire in Vegas before retiring in May, made many prescient claims in his book.
Nevada, he predicted, would not give in to competition.
“We will always be Las Vegas. People will still take the time of their lives to come here. He also wrote that it’s conceivable “one day you could bet on an NFL game.”
Cheeky stuff in 1991, but perfect. Today, people watching an NFL game inside Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas can place bets, on their mobile phone apps, while watching the Raiders.
“I see nearly every state eventually turning to sports gaming as a revenue generator,” Manteris wrote. “All social, political and technological trends point in this direction.”
1 BILLION DOLLARS IN ILLINOIS?
Resorts International launched casino gaming in Atlantic City in May 1978, and Kenny White remembers the death knell.
“It started spreading all over the country, and everyone said Las Vegas was going to be a ghost town,” he said. “It’s not, because the more popular something becomes, the more Vegas benefits from it.
“Nobody can duplicate what we have here, with the Strip, the restaurants, the shows and the parties. And I’m willing to bet they’ll keep coming.
The enormous growth in the industry was put into perspective for White when he recently phoned a friend in Denver. White asked how many legal sportsbooks operate in the Centennial State.
“And he said there were something like 30,” White said. “Amazing. Here in Nevada, we only have 10 or 12. It’s great for the bettor, in Colorado, because everyone is fighting for customers.
Illinois has seven entities managing 10 books, and at least four more are in the works. Nevada is now the only state, among 31 legal jurisdictions, to require in-person registration for a mobile sports betting account.
White saw the 2021 football season as the first in which Nevada Sportsbook has promoted its apps so heavily, allowing bettors to place bets outside of physical stores.
Illinois saw $868 million in activity in January, so it’s also eyeing its first 10-figure month.
That likelihood was bolstered two weeks ago, when it reinstated remote signups for mobile sports betting accounts.
“A game changer,” Avello said. “Now that we’re able to enroll people remotely in Illinois, business is good. But when they go to the window, they’re a lot less intimidated.