Station to operate El Cortez race, sports book

Station Casinos LLC has entered into an exclusive partnership with the El Cortez to run the property's race and sports book.

Station will replace South Point, which had operated the facility in downtown Las Vegas for four years.

The five-year management contract marks Station Casinos' first foray into managing sports book operations outside of the 16 it owns and operates in its Southern Nevada casinos.

"I'm very excited about going into the El Cortez," said Jason McCormick, director of race and sports book operations at Red Rock Resort. "We expect to expand into other management (deals) in the future."

McCormick said the contract prohibits Station Casinos from managing other downtown sports books. He said he expects the El Cortez to benefit financially from Station Casinos' "significant marketing and advertising campaigns" for contests associated with NFL football.

Sports books in Nevada handled about $2.7 billion in 2010, according to state regulators. Gross gaming revenues last year were $151.1 million, only 5.5 percent of the total amount wagered.

But one deal doesn't make them William Hill PLC or Cantor Gaming.

"We will find other opportunities," he said. "William Hill and Cantor have really pushed their weight around with their ventures in Las Vegas and Nevada. We just signed our first management deal."

Cantor Gaming operates sports books at The Venetian, Palazzo, Tropicana Las Vegas, Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and the Hard Rock Hotel. In April, William Hill spent more than $53 million to acquire Las Vegas-based American Wagering Inc. and Brandywine Bookmaking LLC, along with Club Cal Neva Satellite Race and Sports book division.

Station Casinos expects to take over operations at the El Cortez in August, pending approval by state gaming regulators. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"The market for sports betting is growing downtown," said Joe Woody, CFO of the El Cortez. "It's become a more important revenue center for the hotel. South Point was good, but we think this will allow us to grow even more."

South Point spokeswoman Anne Kerestesi could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

South Point had operated the sports book since August 2007, taking over its day-to-day management almost four years ago.

Station Casinos will provide the El Cortez with its Wagering Integrated Network that will allow for the processing, management and reporting of bets across the company's network of race and sports books.

"Partnering with Station Casinos will allow us to grow our sports book business and tap into their vast network, state-of-the-art technology and popular promotions," said Mike Nolan, general manager of the El Cortez.

Nolan said it also gives the El Cortez access to Station Casinos' football promotions, as well as its sports Intranet and phone wagering systems, known as Sports Connection.

He also expected the El Cortez to benefit from Station Casinos' well-known brand, high betting limits and customer comps.

"Station Casinos is going to add to the reputation of downtown. They are a well-known brand," said Nolan.

Contact reporter Chris Sieroty at or 702-477-3893.