Updated 3 hours ago
Jimmy Vaccaro has seen decades of great sports games. But even the seasoned veteran of Las Vegas sports books is thrilled with what is to come now that sports betting is legal in Pennsylvania.
"I was expecting my whole life to see this," said the 73-year-old Trafford nurse.
And Pittsburgh hasn't seen anything yet, he added. Vaccaro believes that the region is a hotbed for the legal sports betting market, and the audience on sportsbooks should grow.
"I've told anyone who wanted to hear: No matter what impact you see now, not just in Pennsylvania but across the country, it gets three times busier," Vaccaro said Friday.
He returned to his hometown days before the Super Bowl to serve as the director of sports relations for the Rivers Casino at Pittsburgh's North Shore, which will celebrate the big game ̵
"We are thrilled to bring Jimmy home to Pennsylvania," said Bill Keena, manager of Rivers Casino, in a statement. "When it comes to sports betting – customer experience, operating quality, the odds put – Jimmy is the gold standard."
Vaccaro boarded a flight to Las Vegas on January 4, 1970.
"And that's where I stayed last week, Vaccaro said, who over the last 40 years has become a household name in The sports betting industry.
Vaccaro appeared in Las Vegas as a "youth" with "no understanding of anything," he said. But he knew a thing or two about betting on sports. He set out to get a job in a casino, attended reseller school and landed a concert as a blackjack dealer at Royal Inn.
He continued to become the plant's first sportsbook manager and to hold a number of sportsbook leadership roles with several other properties throughout Las Vegas.
Last, was the Vaccaro director of sports marketing for South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa in Las Vegas.
In his new role, Vaccaro will advise and develop the river sportsbook, which opened on December 13. He plans to use the Super Bowl at the casino.  Vaccaro is often described as a legend in sports betting business.
When news of his departure from Las Vegas leaked in late 2018, leaders in the sports betting community led Las Vegas losses.
"He was a bookmaker's bookmaker," said Vic Salerno, CEO of USBookmaking, a sports watch consulting firm and an American gaming association Hall of Famer, the sports game news site Sports Handle in December.
Salerno and others welcomed Vaccaro's knowledge of the business as much as his warm personality and willingness to share his love for the craft of sports games with beginners.
Vaccaro has become a frequent expert voice on sports betting. But he remembers that when a bookmaker was not a respected profession and before interview requests or invitations to appear at gambling conferences began rolling in.
"It would have been totally unknown 30 years ago," he said.
Jamie Martines is a Tribune Review personnel author. You can contact Jamie at 724-850-2867, email@example.com or via Twitter @Jamie_Martines.