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Johnny Avello | DK SportsBook Las Vegas

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence
The Truth Network Radio
May 17, 2023 5:57 am

Johnny Avello | DK SportsBook Las Vegas

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence

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May 17, 2023 5:57 am

Johnny Avello of DK SportsBook in Vegas joins the show to talk the A's relocation, the rise of professional sports in the area, and the latest betting lines around the sporting world.

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$10 minimum per order. Additional terms apply. We're pleased to welcome Johnny Avello, who is the director of race and sport operations for DraftKings. Haven't had you on the show in a while, Johnny, but considering what's happening in Vegas these days, thought it was a good opportunity. I know that you call Vegas home and have for quite a while. You love the city. What's the buzz like these days when it comes to sports in Vegas? Yeah, you know, if you go to a Knights game, Amy, that's packed. We don't have an NBA team yet, but I think that'll be coming soon. We do have a triple A team there that packs them in every night. So, you know, the city's buzzing. Besides everything else that you can do in town, besides, you know, the shows and entertainment and the great restaurants, now we have pro teams also. People come to town, they follow their team. You know, it might be in Phoenix the night before, or in Vegas the next night, or in LA the night before, and then Vegas the next night.

So, it's great. And then the Raiders, of course, you know, we'll have them back this year for their third season, and hopefully they can make the playoffs with their new quarterback, Jimmy James. Is this filling a void that used to exist in the city without the pro teams at the highest level? I don't think so, because remember, the town is... I came to town in 1979. At that time, there were 300,000 people here. Obviously, that's not enough to support any type of a pro team, but as the city's grown and got to a point where we did have enough people here to support those teams, that's when they brought them in. So, I think the timing was great for each and every team we've brought in so far. Baseball?

I don't know. Baseball, you know, is fickle fans in baseball. You have to win or, you know, sometimes they don't fill the stadium, but this is supposed to be a smaller stadium. The newest proposal as of today, and I'm sure you're aware of it, is, you know, where the Tropicana Hotel is. So, that's right smack in the middle of the strip.

Well, good. I'm glad that you mentioned that, because yes, the proposal is not only for a 30,000 seat stadium, it's a 35-acre site, but it's right there in the middle of all of the action. How do you think that will work for what will be the Las Vegas A's? Well, I think they're going to have to do a little bit of work on, you know, getting the traffic through that area. It's a little tight right now, and I'm sure there's plans to maneuver that traffic, you know, in certain ways so that it can pass through in no congestion.

So, we'll see. I mean, I think all the funding that hasn't been decided yet, hopefully what they'll do is give the locals a break, because the locals are paying a lot of money to go to these games. I'm just hoping that somewhere along the line, they say the locals, you know, if you live in Las Vegas, you get a break there, you know, to pay your way into these games. And that hasn't happened yet, but I'd like to see that not only in our city, but maybe in other cities. Right.

They're looking for public financing as part of this $1.5 billion project. When you think about the reception for the Golden Knights and the Raiders, though, what's it been like with local fans, Johnny? They're packing them. I mean, you know, first of all, the Knights have been a winner. They've made it to playoffs every year, going to the finals now, a few years. So, the Knights have been successful. The Raiders, you know, they haven't won anything yet, but it's not stopping them from packing the arena. And then, because they're in an arena, there's a lot of other shows also, and packs them in. Tudor's been great soccer games there, great concerts there. And now, you know, baseball's next. And, you know, I'm sure the town will support that also, especially if it's only 30,000. You know, if it was 50, 60,000, that's asking a lot.

But 30,000, that's the size of a Boston stadium. Johnny Avello is with us here after hours on CBS Sports Radio. Since we last had him on the show, his title has changed.

He's now the director of race and sports operations for DraftKings, and we'll explain that coming up. Johnny, we've seen a lot more sporting events go through Vegas, or make Vegas one of their stops. All-star affairs like the NFL, also the NHL last year. We know that the Super Bowl is headed to town. Is there a buzz yet about the NFL's championship game being there next February?

Oh, yeah. I mean, they haven't stopped talking about it. We're a year away, and we're less than a year now. And, you know, it's the talk on the news every night, and everybody's preparing for it. Well, you know, when you come to Vegas for a Super Bowl, I usually attend one of the parties that the hotels are throwing. So now, you know, you get to go to not only a party, but the game itself if you're lucky enough to have tickets. So it's gonna be a busy, busy time here in town. We've had a lot of events come through here. We had the NFL Draft last year, and when events come through here, the place is packed. And when events don't come through here, the place is packed. So it's been a busy town now for a few years. Do you actually notice when there's an event in town, or is the city able to absorb it so you don't really realize it's something separate from what is typical Las Vegas traffic? Yeah, I don't know if you do notice it, but, you know, you'll certainly feel it when it's close to game time. An hour, an hour and a half before game time, you'll see that, you know, traffic's bogged down a little bit. And of course, like any other city, we're constantly working on the roads to make them wider.

You know, we've made them wider like five or 10 times, I don't know. So it just seems like you're always dealing with that also. But no, it's a great, it's a great place to live. And, you know, I've been here now for 45, almost 45 years.

So it's been a good town for me. And of course, your business is there, although it's expanding around the country with more and more states agreeing to allow sports betting and sports gambling. But Johnny, Vegas still the hub for that. So what are the big events right now that are capturing a lot of the attention among sports gamblers?

The NBA conference finals and they're down at a hockey conference finals. So those are the two big events. We've got a PGA golf tournament come up this week.

Those are the big ones, Amy. But, you know, if you look at our menu, you've got baseball every night. You've got, if you like Aussie rules football, we have that. If you like cricket, we have that. If you like cycling and lacrosse, college lacrosse and MMA and, you know, soccer around the world. And tennis, NASCAR.

Amy, the menu is extensive. So, you know, never a loss of words for the things that we're offering here. I got to tell you, my motto for spring in the sports broadcast industry, which certainly could apply to your industry as well, is sports never stop. Because in the springtime, they never stop.

They never do. And, you know, we've just added horse racing to the menu. So that kind of makes our menu complete. We kind of have all the verticals now.

So people don't want to stop shopping now for DraftKings. Well, it is a triple crown race this weekend. So the second leg, which is the Preakness, when we're talking about it on the show, it's not quite the same. And I think there is some damper on the sport a little bit because of some of the recent drug allegations, the suspensions, also the death of some horses, especially at Churchill Downs.

How has that impacted your industry? Yeah, we don't like to hear that negative news. You know, and horses do die on the track from time to time.

And I just think there's going to be a certain amount that do. The horses are really well taken care of. As far as the sport, integrity of the sport and the way the animals are treated, I think they're treated great.

It's unfortunately, there's a lot of weight on four legs, four thin legs of a horse. And sometimes, you know, the horses, you know, break down and that's very unfortunate and sad for all of us who love the game. But the game's doing, it's doing well. At DraftKings, we're trying to bring some new players into the fold, some younger people into the fold.

And that's exactly what we've been doing. We've been up now for about five weeks or five, six weeks. Our new app, it's not on our normal DraftKings download app. It's called DK Horse.

It's a separate app you have to download and been up five, six weeks now and doing really great. We're just trying to offer our customers another vertical to bet. Especially this time of the year with the second leg of the Triple Crown coming up, some great racing this summer at Saratoga, one of my favorite places to go in, Del Mar. And then, of course, leading into the Breeders' Cup in November. Great horse racing for the rest of the year.

It's called the DK Horse app. And we're pleased to hear more about it with Johnny Avella, who's the director of race and sports operations for DraftKings. All right, so Vegas being the hub, who are the most popular team so far in the NBA playoffs in terms of the betting action? Because we've had some real superstars, weirdly enough, this rematch of 2020 in the bubble on both the east and west side. Yeah, well, you know, there was a game tonight. We actually opened that game five and a half, we closed six and a half, and the game fell six. So that's just typical of what we do with the odds.

Sometimes we're just a little bit too close. But the money tonight was on Denver to cover the spread, and some of it was on the Lakers to win the game straight out. So the result was okay for us. But when you look at the teams that are left, they've bet the Lakers, they've bet Denver, they've bet Miami. The one team out of the four that will end up being pretty good for us is the Celtics. So they caught the Heat at some really high odds. They were number seven seed. They caught the Lakers at some high odds. Whoever thought the Lakers would even get this far the way they were playing?

But the Lakers are always a popular choice, and the Nuggets have just been solid all year long. I think maybe the Celtics odds were a little low. They were, you know, for the betters to throw heaps of money on. They were only, you know, five to one at the beginning of the year. And at some points during the year, they were only, you know, two and a half to one, three to one. So that's why we're probably in a better position with them than anybody else.

Interesting. And how much does that fluctuate over the course of the playoffs themselves, which can go about two and a half months? Yeah, you know, we keep this stuff up. The future odds, we just adjust them right after the game, put them back up, and, you know, the betters are back betting them again, looking for, you know, what they believe is value. You know, now we're down to these four teams. The Lakers lost tonight, and their odds went up a little bit, and Denver won, and their odds went down a little bit. Now if the Lakers win the next game, then the Lakers odds will go down a little bit, and Denver's will come up a little bit. That's what we do.

It's a balancing act with these odds. Does it ever stop? Is it ever quiet, meaning there's nothing happening?

The answer to that would be no. Never. I mean, even you would think the summers might be slow, but they're not because baseball's every day, there's golf tournaments every weekend, there's majors, there's tennis tournaments. I mean, NASCAR, I mean, it just goes on and on. The PGA Championship is this weekend, and so the second of the majors on the golf schedule. No Tiger Woods, but seems like tournaments these days on the PGA Tour are so wide open. I remember a couple years ago when we spoke, golf was starting to become more and more popular.

How is it now compared to some of the other team sports? Golf's as popular now as it's ever been, and it continues to grow each and every year. I think some of the reasons for that is, first of all, coverage, the way the game is covered now, the way we allow people to bet on golf before it used to be. Pick the winner before the tournament starts, and then maybe after the end of the day, we'll put it back up and you can bet it again. But now, we have betting going on while the tournament's going on in the middle of the tournament. Bet on each individual hole. Will a golfer score a lower score than his partner or his fellow golfer on this hole?

So we're constantly putting up odds in play wagering. So we've changed the way that golf has bet, and when you look at the field of golfers now, there's some really great prices out there on some really good golfers because there's so many good golfers in the field that you have to give some really nice prices on some of the players. Tony Fee now for this week's PGA Championship, he's over 20-1. Jason Day, who just won last week, he's 28-1. Justin Thomas, he's 30-1.

Dustin Johnson, he's 35-1. So these guys are just great players, and I think there's value in betting golf, but it's hard. Only one guy can win the tournament, but there's a lot of ways to bet it. You can bet guys will make the top five, make the top 10. We have them in matchups against other golfers, so there's many different ways to bet the game.

Just out of curiosity, do you have betting options for the live tour or no? Oh, yes. We don't pass up. If there's a sport out there that we can book and we get approvals from the state to certain jurisdictions that we're in to do it, we do it. We have pickleball now and corn. Yeah, that's right, Amy. They're both in action now, so live is a big tournament with a big name, so of course we're doing that.

A lot of options as you hear with Johnny Avello, who's the director of race and sport operations for DraftKings. Always good to catch up with you in Vegas. You give us such a unique perspective as someone who's lived in the city for such a long time, and always thank you for joining us on the show. Oh, Amy, it's always great and a pleasure to speak to you. We'll talk again soon. Attention, listeners. I'm pleased to announce that Radio Rental is returning for another installment of Terrifying Tales. If you happen to be new here, I'm Terry Carnation, current proprietor of the Radio Rental Video Store, where I possess a collection of the scariest true stories you've ever heard, all told by real people. Mark your calendars for, oh, apparently it's available right now. I'm a little late with this promo.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-17 06:47:08 / 2023-05-17 06:54:01 / 7

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