In the bustling heart of Las Vegas, where dreams are spun against the backdrop of neon lights, Richie Baccellieri’s narrative embodies the quintessential American tale of passion, perseverance, and adaptation. Hailing from the Bronx, New York, Baccellieri’s foray into the realm of sports betting was more than just a career choice; it was a calling fueled by a passion for sports. From his early days managing the day-to-day operations of a sportsbook at Caesars Palace to orchestrating the expansion of in-game wagering at the Palms Casino, founding Stadium Technology and working for Circa, Baccellieri’s trajectory mirrored the transformative shifts within the industry.

Sports Betting HOF: Baccellieri’s journey from Caesars to Circa

In the bustling heart of Las Vegas, where dreams are spun against the backdrop of neon lights, Richie Baccellieri’s narrative embodies the quintessential American tale of passion, perseverance, and adaptation.

Hailing from the Bronx, New York, Baccellieri’s foray into the realm of sports betting was more than just a career choice; it was a calling fueled by a passion for sports.

From his early days managing the day-to-day operations of a sportsbook at Caesars Palace to orchestrating the expansion of in-game wagering at the Palms Casino, founding Stadium Technology and working for Circa, Baccellieri’s trajectory mirrored the transformative shifts within the industry.

Yet, amidst the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, Baccellieri remained anchored to his values, recognizing the importance of customer service and integrity in an industry often overshadowed by profit margins and corporate agendas.

This is precisely why, Baccellieri is being welcomed into the esteemed SBC’s Sports Betting Hall of Fame, alongside his former Director Vinny Magliulo and current colleague Nick Bogdanovich, inducted in 2023.

Caesars Palace & MGM Grand

Baccellieri ventured into the world of sports betting at Caesars Palace. In those days, the internet and mobile phones were but a whisper, so his days were spent manually creating events, posting results, managing the TVs and the big satellite dishes, and teaching customers how to bet.

“I was what they called an admin operator,” Baccellieri reminisced. “Managing the day-to-day business…everything had to be done manually.”

But Baccellieri’s ambition soared higher, and soon, he started managing odds, a promotion that filled him with pride. And even though in the corridors of Caesars, Baccellieri rubbed shoulders with icons of American culture – baseball legends like Mickey Mantle and silver screen heroes like Sylvester Stallone – the true highlight was way simpler than that.

“I was very pleased as a 22-year-old kid wearing a suit and tie, going to Caesars Palace every day. It was a wonderful, wonderful feeling,” he recalled.

In 1994, Baccellieri seized the opportunity to helm the sportsbook of the newly opened casino, MGM Grand. “That was the era of growth in Las Vegas, with all the new hotels, casinos, and of course, with the new casinos, everybody was putting in sportsbooks.”

This was a great new experience for Baccellieri. By the age of 29, after roughly seven years in the business, he was running a Las Vegas sportsbook, living out a dream he had nurtured since his early days in the industry.

Yet, after a year, Magliulo, who was a director at Caesars, extended an invitation back to Baccellieri to become a Sportsbook Manager, offering him the opportunity to reignite his roots at the iconic establishment. He stayed there till 1999, but his journey was far from being over.

A stint as Vice President of Sports Operations at MGM Grand followed, before Baccellieri made the bold decision to “start branching out a little bit more” and venture into the world of consulting. “I started consulting offshore bookies; it was a learning process for many, and here I was, 35 years old and having more experience than a lot of people in the industry at that point.”

Palms and Progressive Gaming

After his tenure at Caesar’s and MGM and the consulting work, Baccellieri went into professional betting. However, as the winds of change swept through the industry in 2005, he found himself drawn back to Las Vegas, where an opportunity awaited him at the Palms Casino.

At the Palms, Baccellieri started offering daily in-game wagering, a concept that would revolutionize the sports betting landscape. “There were no mobile applications back then, and no web wagering,” “It was, needless to say, very difficult.”

In 2007, a new opportunity presented itself when Progressive Gaming, dealing with the software side of the industry, approached him. “The writing on the wall was that sports betting would be legal someday in the United States,” Baccellieri reflected. “So I decided to take some chances and expand my scope of the industry.”

Though Progressive Gaming later faced bankruptcy, Richie, using his new-found skills, quickly embarked on a new chapter in partnership with a friend, Guy Ossello, as they breathed life into Stadium Technology.

Stadium Technology

Reflecting on this experience, Baccellieri acknowledged, “Yes, I was certainly not the business guy.” Yet, alongside a friend who possessed the acumen he lacked, they embarked on the bold endeavor of building a software and technology provider for race and retail sportsbooks in the U.S.

A promising start was made with the launch of their first sportsbook at Treasure Island in June 2009. “We had a very solid product,” Baccellieri recalled with pride, “and in a matter of eight or nine years, we provided software for the entire state of Nevada (well, 95% of it).”

With their sights set on broader horizons, Baccellieri and his team prepared to expand across the United States. However, fate intervened with the sale of their partner, Ladbrokes, to GVC. “That basically changed everything,” Baccellieri said. By 2019, the joint venture between GVC and MGM ultimately led to the development efforts focused solely on the BetMGM brands.

But as the world grappled with the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Baccellieri decided that the new ways of doing business no longer resonated with him, prompting him to make the bittersweet decision to retire.

The mve to Circa

That was until he was approached by Circa Sports.

Baccellieri found himself drawn to a new chapter with Circa, where he reunited with his old friend Bogdanovich. Reflecting on their shared history, Baccellieri remarked, “Nick and I go back many years. I’m very fortunate to have many good friends like Nick. Vinny, Jay (Kornegay, who is also being inducted this year). I’ve known Jay for 30-plus years.”

At Circa, Baccellieri pours his heart and soul into a special project; developing the software for the brand. “If it wasn’t for Derek Stevens and his drive, I would not be back to work. They care about the customer.”

Baccellieri’s dedication to fostering a culture of authenticity in sports betting was palpable as he spoke about the importance of prioritizing customer service over flashy promotions and brand names. “The brands dominate the game,” he remarked, “not the product – simply because they are marketed well.”

“Another thing is the kiosk can’t ask you, ‘How’s your wife? How’s your family?’ The kiosk can’t smile. Circa, however, wants to make a customer feel at home.”

Despite the challenges and frustrations inherent in the industry, Baccellieri remains steadfast in his belief that players would become more savvy over time. “Hopefully good odds might trump the big brands.”

As Baccellieri reflected on his journey spanning nearly four decades, he said: “I pretty much have been involved with every aspect of this industry over the course of 38 years.”

Baccellieri’s contributions to the industry were further exemplified by his involvement in projects like ‘The Linemakers,’ a show featuring a panel discussion on sports betting among a group of Nevada sports book industry insiders; Lou D’Amico, Vinny Magliulo, Kenny WhiteRick HerronBrian Blessing and Jimmy Vaccaro.

“It was the greatest time of my life,” he reminisced. “I really enjoyed it. It was so much fun. It was so different than what I’ve been doing.” Baccellieri was also characterized in the book The Smart Money: How the World’s Best Sports Bettors Beat the Bookies Out of Millions.

Yet, he remains refreshingly humble. “That’s pretty much the only thing I know—I don’t even know how to change the air filters in my house,” he chuckles. “I have a hard time figuring out what direction they go.”

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