John Avello, always a true professional
The Wynn Las Vegas sports book website is planned for an early November launching. If it’s anything like the book, oh baby!
"We’re still in the building phase, but very close," said John Avello, executive director of race and sports operations at Wynn LV the past five years. "We’re also working on taking bets by phone. We’ll be putting that information on the website and hopefully down the road we can do something with New York race tracks."
The web site will definitely have the Avello touch, which means plenty of early lines, Breeders Cup horse racing futures, industry articles, a personal blog and his signature entertainment odds.
"The media loves it," said Avello, referring to his fun "American Idol, Oscars and Dancing With the Stars" odds that often land him on national sports radio shows. "I just love watching those shows, making odds and talking about it. I can see Gaming Control (Board) someday expanding betting to something like the Oscars because the winners come out that night."
While a website is convenient, it can’t capture the ambiance of the Wynn book.
"Wynn is a very comfortable place to work, like a second home," said Avello, who has 31 years of industry experience in Vegas, first starting in the pit as a dice and 21 dealer before advancing into the sports book business through Bob Gregorka at the Sands and Lenny Del Genio at Bally’s. "Our clientele expect a lot."
Especially, when you like being pampered and red is your favorite color.
"We have great management staff," Avello said. "Steve Wynn demands his places run efficiently. It’s about service over and beyond betting. No lights out on the board, no chairs with broken legs."
Avello is famed for taking bets on sports most books avoid, such as Australian Rules Football, lacrosse and, yes, lingerie football.
"I get a little crazy sometimes," Avello quipped. "I put lines up on lingerie football because I was asked to by those guys who own the league. It works for them marketing wise and we have taken some small bets.
"I put up Aussie Rules final game and you won’t find college lacrosse anywhere but here," Avello said. "UFC fighting and MMA has been rising under the radar as a very successful sport to bet on here, unlike hockey. The NHL hasn’t been the same since the strike back in the 1990s. Opening night was last Thursday with four games and nobody knew about it."
"I am optimistic about the sports betting industry," Avello said. "In fact, I am optimistic about Las Vegas. This is one of the top destinations to go. Not to say Vegas will get back to 2005 when it reached the but things will bounce back."
Avello reduced his staff at Wynn from 22 ticket writers to 13 with positive results.
"We are doing more with less," Avello said. "Everyone makes this book work. My workers can do 1½ times what a normal worker can do. We didn’t so much downsize as opposed to attrition."
Patrons of the neighboring Encore have two outlet betting stations.
"The Encore book is not open as much as the one here," Avello said. "It is a convenience for those staying there to make bets easy. The way the economy is there’s no talk of expanding. As things get better, maybe that will be addressed."
For now, bettors will just have to settle for quality service, early football lines and celebrity watching.
"Early in my career, I recall bosses who were pretty tough on the help," Avello said. "You won’t get productivity if treated that way. We are all working for the same company to do the best job. Nobody walks on water in my department.
"We do get a lot of celebrities in the book," Avello continued. "Early lines for college football go up usually between 3-3:30 p.m. on Sundays. It’s been a 30-year love affair for me. Once you get casinos in your blood, you live with it."
CORRECTION: Last week I incorrectly included the South Point among Boyd Gaming properties. The correct Vegas list of Boyd properties is: California, Orleans, Gold Coast, Suncoast, Fremont, Sam’s Town, Eldorado and Joker’s Wild. South Point is owned by Michael Gaughan.
OTM’s top 5 college plays:
Illinois +7.5 at Mich St: Upset alert for Sparty off Michigan win. ILLINOIS.
Baylor -1 at Colorado: Host Buffs are not TCU or Texas Tech. BAYLOR.
Utah -20 at Wyoming: Could be another 60+ effort for unbeaten Utes. UTAH.
Miss St +8 at Florida: Usually Gators are giving 20+ to State. FLORIDA.
N.C. State -7.5 at E. Carolina: Pirates are a very live home dog. ECU.
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