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Best of Gary Trask
Lou D'Amico has been involved in the sportsbook business in Las Vegas for the last 35 years so it's safe to say that he's seen it all. But even a guy with the veteran status of D'Amico has had an extra hop in his step this week, thanks to the new "In-Running" sports betting product that will be available for the 2009 NFL season at The Venetian, Palazzo and the M Resort Spa Casino.
"It's going to be very exciting, even for an old guy like me," laughed the Director of the M Resort's Race and Sportsbook as he made preparations for this Thursday night's NFL season-opener between Tennessee and Pittsburgh, which will be the first NFL game to offer the new "in-running" wagers. "This is the kind of thing that will really give the football season a shot in the arm. We're kind of going into unchartered waters with this, but I think it's going to be a lot of fun."
"In-Running" betting allows players to wager on live sporting events during the actual flow of the game. So once a game kicks off, you will be able to wager on things like who will win the game (with an adjusted money line as the score changes) and the over/under, as well as whether the current drive will yield a first down or result in a punt, field goal, touchdown or turnover. Bets will be made on whether a field goal that being set up will be good or whether or not the next play will gain 20 or more yards.
"It's really a phenomenal experience for the player," says D'Amico, a native of Brooklyn who has worked two different stints as the sportsbook director at Caesar's Palace and was also responsible for starting the book at the Plaza Hotel & Casino. "And the technology that's provided by Cantor Gaming is tremendous. It's really a credit to Lee Amaitis (President and CEO of Cantor Gaming).
"This is really a unique concept. And now that we're going to have it at two first-class Strip properties like the Venetian and Palazzo as well as here at the M, we're hoping it will bring a lot of new customers into our sportsbooks."
M Resort, which opened in March and is located in Henderson, about 10 miles south of Mandalay Bay, began offering "in-running" bets last spring during the NCAA basketball tournament. It then used it in the NBA Playoffs and Triple Crown horse races as well as the baseball season. But this is the first time it will be offered for football, which is, by far, the most popular sport to bet in Las Vegas. In addition to NFL games, "in-running" will also be available for select NCAA football games this season.
Here's how it works. The sportsbook at the M Resort has both mobile handsets and mobile gaming stations. On a typical Sunday, D'Amico and his staff will pick two games from the early card and two games for the late card as the games that will offer "in-running." In addition, the Sunday night and Thursday night games will always offer it. Players deposit a certain amount of money to wager with onto their mobile device and then as the game goes along, different wagers are posted. All wagers are made from the mobile devices so there is no rushing to the window to place a bet. The minimum bet is $10 and the max is $1,000.
At least two members of the sportsbook staff will be watching the games and posting lines as the action plays out, with D'Amico standing nearby to help make any tough decisions.
"We have all of the data and information that we need right in front of us so we can make a fair line on every wager," D'Amico explains. "To be honest, it's not as difficult as it would seem to be. We have the whole format down pretty good. We know what we're doing."
All of the lines posted by D'Amico and his staff at the M will be transported in real time to both The Venetian and Palazzo.
"The addition of 'in-running' is certainly going to enhance our sportsbook offering and be a huge hit with the many sports aficionados who spend time at our properties," said Robert Goldstein, president of the Las Vegas Sands-owned Palazzo and The Venetian. "We are constantly looking for opportunities to add new and exciting amenities to our overall guest experience and this is the type of 'only in Las Vegas' concept that helps differentiate The Venetian and Palazzo from other properties on the Strip, and also demonstrates the true uniqueness of Las Vegas and why there is no city in America quite like it."
While The Venetian and Palazzo will be the only sportsbooks on the Strip to offer "in-running" this football season, D'Amico said the popularity of the new concept may help it proliferate to other books in the very near future.
"Las Vegas and the sportsbook industry in particular have always had a 'walk before you run' type of attitude," he says. "This something new and different and I think a lot of the other properties are taking a wait and see approach. But once they see how successful it's going to be for us, I wouldn't be surprised to see some of them start to offer it next season, or even later this season."