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Gaming Guru

Jennifer Robson

Bally's closes sports book

1 April 2009

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- New Yorker Harvey Cherches came to Las Vegas to gamble.

He arrived Sunday with plans to spend most of the week betting $20 to $30 per horse race from the book inside Bally's, where he's staying through Friday.

Imagine his surprise when he showed up at the property's race and sports book Tuesday morning and found that all bets were off, literally.

A sign stated the book was closed and directed patrons to visit the race and sports book next door at Paris Las Vegas.

"It was almost like the 'Twilight Zone' seeing the place closed," Cherches said. "You don't expect to see a big hotel race and sports book that's been there for so many years just close like that."

Deanna Pettit, a spokeswoman for Bally's, confirmed the 285-seat sports book's closure, but she said the move is temporary. The sports book is scheduled to reopen in September.

Pettit wouldn't elaborate on reasons for the closing, but she said remodeling was not a factor. The sports book will occupy the same spot when it reopens in the fall. For now, the sports book at Paris Las Vegas will do double duty and serve customers of Bally's. Harrah's Entertainment owns both resorts.

"The Paris sports book is in such close proximity (to Bally's) that we didn't think it would inconvenience our guests to filter them over to Paris for the time being," Pettit said. "It's a captive group within Bally's and Paris, so we should be able to service our guests with the Paris sports book."

Customers might not be as captive as Harrah's executives think.

Cherches ignored the sign, eschewed the sports book at Paris and headed to the one at Bellagio instead. Nor does he plan to bet inside the Paris sports book while he's here. It's small, he said, and he's not sure it could pick up the slack for Bally's.

"Besides, it's just as easy for me to get across the street as it is to walk over to Paris, and Bellagio is nice," Cherches said.

The closure affects fewer than 10 employees, Pettit said.

Jason Been, an oddsmaker with Las Vegas Sports Consultants, said he wasn't privy to details behind the closing of Bally's book and he wasn't familiar with factors pushing the temporary shutdown.

But he did note that the summer season is the slowest time of the year for most sports books, with "only baseball pretty much going on," as well as some big golf tournaments and tennis events such as Wimbledon and the French Open.