Leroy’s owner still ahead of game

In the mid-1980s, Leroy’s Race and Sports Book owner Vic Salerno spent $7,000 to install a satellite television dish atop his building.

At the time, Salerno thought he was making a heck of an investment.

Leroy’s was an independent betting parlor, tucked between a pawnshop and a men’s clothing store in an aging downtown strip mall on First Street behind the Golden Nugget

"I think the dish was bigger than the whole roof," Salerno says.

Fledgling satellite TV technology allowed Leroy’s to show customers live sporting events from across the country. Most independent sports books were showing only the games broadcast on network television or cable channels.

The satellite dish expense translated into increased wagering, which helped in Leroy’s survival. The large casinos expanded their race and sports books over time and sent Las Vegas’ independent operators — Del Mar, Churchill Downs and the Rose Bowl — into extinction.

Nowadays, it’s commonplace to watch sporting events on your iPhone.

Salerno, 67, laughs when he considers the changes Nevada’s sports betting industry and gambling technology have undergone since he took over Leroy’s in April 1978. At the time, wagering odds were posted and changed on chalkboards. The best sports books were small smoke-filled parlors operated separately from casinos.

"You think back, we were writing tickets by hand. I never could have imagined any of this," Salerno says, referring to computerized betting terminals and electronic reader boards.

Salerno is still in the game.

Leroy’s is now a gaming technology company. It operates the race and sports books for 72 Nevada casinos. Leroy’s also has a kiosk business that provides sports wagering opportunities for customers inside Buffalo Wild Wings and the Inn Zone Lounges.

Leroy’s rolled out mobile wagering applications for BlackBerry and Android smartphones this year. The company is seeking Nevada gaming regulatory approval to make the application available for Android’s tablet technology.

"You have to change. You have to keep adapting," Salerno says. "Or else you will get left behind."

It’s with that thought Salerno agreed on April 14 to sell his American Wagering Inc., the owner of Leroy’s, to British bookmaker William Hill Plc for $18 million. William Hill, which has 2,359 land-based sports betting locations in the United Kingdom, also bought Northern Nevada’s Club Cal Neva sports book operations for $21 million.

Once approved by gaming regulators, the deal will make William Hill the state’s biggest sports book operator.

Salerno believes William Hill will be able to help move in-game wagering and other innovations quickly forward.

He also envisions William Hill taking Nevada’s sports betting industry into Internet gaming, if the activity is ever legalized. Salerno is angry that millions of dollars in wagers have gone to offshore sports books when Nevada could have easily regulated the activity.

"Nevada should have been the leader in Internet sports wagering," Salerno says. "If it does happen, (William Hill) has the technology to carry us through."

Change is something Salerno has experienced throughout his life.

He gave up a lucrative six-figure-a-year dentistry practice in picturesque Marina Del Rey, Calif., to become a bookmaker because he was bored.

Two years ago, Salerno had gastric band surgery. He has since dropped more than 150 pounds and says he feels "years younger."

The old Leroy’s’ location is gone. The strip mall has since been demolished to make way for the Golden Nugget’s Rush Tower expansion.

"It’s all good," Salerno says.

Howard Stutz’s Inside Gaming column appears Sundays. He can be reached at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. He blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/stutz.

ad-high_impact_4
Business
Bellagio, MGM Resorts International’s luxury hotel turns 20
The more than 3,000-room Bellagio hotel is situated on the site of the former Dunes Hotel. The Dunes was imploded in 1993, and construction of the Bellagio started in 1996. It cost $1.6 billion to build, making it the most expensive hotel in the world at the time. The Bellagio was former Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn’s second major casino on the Strip after The Mirage. MGM Resorts International acquired the property from Steve Wynn in 2000. (Tara Mack/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Facial recognition software at G2E – Todd Prince
Shing Tao, CEO of Las Vegas-based Remark Holdings, talks about his facial recognition product. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Bobby Baldwin to leave MGM
MGM Resorts International executive and professional poker player Bobby Baldwin is set to leave MGM.
Caesars has new armed emergency response teams
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has created armed emergency response teams. They are composed of former military and law enforcement officials. "These teams provide valuable additional security capabilities,” Caesars spokeswoman Jennifer Forkish said. Caesars is hiring Security Saturation Team supervisors, managers and officers, according to LinkedIn. The company did not say how many people it plans to hire for the units. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas, airlines prepare for CES
CES in January is expected to attract more than 180,000 attendees. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
AGS partners with Vegas Golden Knights
AGS is the nation’s second-largest manufacturer of Class II slot machines used primarily in tribal jurisdictions. It announced a marketing partnership with the Vegas Golden Knights NHL team. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lehman Brothers bet big on Las Vegas
Lehman Brothers collapsed 10 years ago, helping send the country into the Great Recession.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Ross & Snow launches in Las Vegas
Luxury shoe brand Ross & Snow has opened in Las Vegas, featuring "functional luxury" with premium shearling footwear. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remote Identification and Drones
DJI vice president of policy and public affairs discusses using remote identification on drones. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Drones and public safety in Nevada
Two representatives in the drone industry discuss UAV's impact on public safety. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Frontier Airlines to launch flights from Las Vegas to Mexico
Frontier, a Denver-based ultra-low-cost carrier, will become the first airline in more than a decade to offer international service to Canada and Mexico from Las Vegas when flights to Cancun and Los Cabos begin Dec. 15. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren addresses Oct. 1 lawsuits
MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren addresses criticism his company has received for filing a lawsuit against the survivors of the Oct. 1 shooting. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International opens the doors on MGM Springfield
Massachusetts’ first hotel-casino opens in downtown Springfield. The $960 million MGM Springfield has 252 rooms and 125,000-square-feet of casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International prepares to open MGM Springfield
Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International gave news media and invited guests a preview of the $960 million MGM Springfield casino in Massachusetts. The commonwealth's first resort casino will open Friday, Aug. 24. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A Walk Through Circus Circus
It only takes a short walk through Circus Circus to realize it attracts a demographic like no other casino on the Strip: families with young children. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Morphy Auctions, a vintage slot machines seller, wants gaming license
Vice president Don Grimmer talks about Morphy Auctions at the company's warehouse located at 4520 Arville Street in Las Vegas on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada's venture capital money doesn't stay in state
Zach Miles, associate vice president for economic development for UNLV, said there’s venture money in Southern Nevada, “but trying to find the right groups to tap into for that money is different.” According to a 2017 report from the Kauffman Foundation, Las Vegas ranked number 34 out of 40 metropolitan areas for growth entrepreneurship, a metric of how much startups grow. With a lack of growing startups in Las Vegas, investment money is being sent outside of state borders. The southwest region of the U.S. received $386 million in funding in the second quarter, with about $25.2 million in Nevada. The San Francisco area alone received about $5.6 billion. (source: CB Insights)
Neon wraps can light up the night for advertising
Vinyl wrap company 5150 Wraps talks about neon wraps, a new technology that the company believes can boost advertising at night. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Nevada on the forefront of drone safety
Dr. Chris Walach, senior director of Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, talks to a reporter at NIAS's new Nevada Drone Center for Excellence of Public Safety, located inside the Switch Innevation Center in Las Vegas. K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @KMCannonPhoto
Motel 8 on south Strip will become site of hotel-casino
Israeli hoteliers Asher Gabay and Benny Zerah bought Motel 8 on the south Strip for $7.4 million, records show. They plan to bulldoze the property and build a hotel-casino. Motel 8 was built in the 1960s and used to be one of several roadside inns on what's now the south Strip. But it looks out of place today, dwarfed by the towering Mandalay Bay right across the street.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like