Dennis Mathews, 44, picked up his first bowling ball at age 8 and has spent most of his life in a bowling center.
He wouldn’t have it any other way.
Mathews, who has operated the 72-lane Red Rock Lanes inside Station Casinos’ Red Rock Resort since its opening in 2006, has spent 27 years in bowling center management. Mathews ran three locations in Southern California before moving to Las Vegas in 2005 to operate Strike Zone, the bowling center at Sunset Station.
During his career, Mathews has hosted 12 Professional Bowling Association events, including eight major tournaments.
At Red Rock, Mathews oversees a center with 60 traditional lanes and 12 VIP lanes that open at night for parties and special events.
“Bowling is a very social game,” Mathews said.
Earlier this year, South Point announced plans to build a $30 million bowling stadium to host special events and professional tournaments. Even though the South Point competes with bowling centers operated by Station Casinos and Boyd Gaming Corp., Mathews said new bowling amenities boost bowling throughout Southern Nevada.
Lately, Mathews and some partners have been working on creating a mobile phone application for bowlers. Rolltech, which is in beta testing stage, connects with the scoring system at Sunset Station and Red Rock to allow bowlers to record their scores as they happen.
He hopes to launch it fully before the end of the year.
But don’t think Mathews is just a bowling center operator. He’s a successful bowler in his own right, having rolled 11 career perfect-score-300 games and two 800-game series.
What prompted you to create Rolltech?
It’s a way for people to track their performance and their scores in real time. They can go back and look how they might have handled a certain pin split in the past. They can also compare their scores with their friends in real time. The app creates something else to do. People are competitive. You can track your scores and track your friends’ scores.
What are your thoughts about South Point’s new bowling stadium?
Anytime a property does something big like that, it’s good for bowling and the entire community. We’ve hosted major events here at Red Rock, which shows Las Vegas is serious about bowling.
How has bowling league play done during the financial downturn?
It’s improving every year, but league play always remained strong. We lost individual bowlers either because of financial issues or they left town. League play has always been popular.
What got you involved in bowling?
I pretty much grew up in a bowling center. My parents bowled and I ran around the game room and concourse until I was old enough to keep score by hand. I used to get paid to keep score before they had automatic scoring computers. I then started bowling in the junior programs and helping out at the local bowling center until they hired me and I’ve been in it ever since.
How did you end up in Las Vegas?
I was bringing bowling groups up here from Southern California at least one weekend a month for 10 or 15 years. We used to go to the old Showboat and places like that. It became a second home. I saw an opening at Sunset Station for Strike Lanes, got the job and I’ve been here ever since.
What makes bowling a good amenity for a casino?
It’s a natural fit. Bowling is an activity that brings in families and couples on date nights. It brings people onto your property that might not otherwise come in. They end up do something else, such as dining out or playing in the casino. Bowling is a great revenue source for the property.