From Steve Wynn to Buster Douglas, Jimmy Vaccaro has truly seen it all from the counter of his Las Vegas sports book.
The only person to have served as race and sports book director for five major Las Vegas casinos. Considered the guru of linemakers, Jimmy came to the desert in 1975 and quickly impressed a number of properties with his gaming and managerial expertise. It culminated in his helping Steve Wynn establish his sports book when the Mirage opened its doors in 1989.
Nowadays, he handles promotions and media relations for Leroy’s Race and Sports Books, which operate more than 60 Nevada betting emporiums. Through it all, Jimmy Vaccaro has seen some pretty unbelievable things. In his own words, here are some of the historic events that have shaped his life as a Las Vegas icon.
November, 1989: The Mirage opens its doors on the Las Vegas strip. There’s absolutely no doubt in his mind that the race and sports book that you see now in the state of Nevada is a prototype of what he did at the Mirage. The Mirage itself was a turning point for the strip in general. People told Steve Wynn he was crazy to build with, at that time, an astronomical fee of $600 million to put it next to Caesar’s Palace.
Now, the Red Rock Casino, which is a local hotel, cost $1 billion to build. Put it this way, it was a new fucking ballgame. he was on the coattails, which was fun. Even the race and sports book had to be pristine. Nothing in that hotel was undercut. Nothing in that hotel was left to be desired.
1981: James Toback tells Caesars Palace to go fuck off. James Toback is the screenwriter who did the movie the Gambler in 1973. He also did Bugsy in 1992. He’s a stone-boned degenerate gambler who has more nerve than anyone he has run across in his entire life. There was a five to six month period back in 1981 where he would bet just about every game on the board. He was betting anywhere between $1-2 million a day on baseball games. As the word spread, every moustache in the world was heading into Barbary Coast where Vaccaro was employed at the time to see what Jim was going to do. This went on for months. There were some days he might bet $2.2 million within a 20-minute span in the morning.
Yes indeed Las Vegas is where the biggest gamblers go, and this has not changed.