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Sports Book Scene Leaves Antigua, Going to Dominica

All work and no play … well, you know how that goes. Before bidding adieu to Antigua, one of Carib Sports Book’s key staffers took us out for a memorable night on the town, in which we visited some local hot spots.

Without giving a blow-by-blow account, suffice it to say Timmy rates a tip of the Sports Book Scene cap for being a tour guide par excellence.

Now, we’re in Dominica to visit several books, which are somewhat lesser known entities but are carving out their own niches and deserve recognition.

First we should mention the improvement in the island’s political situation. In the recent election, the previous ruling party – which was accused of rampant corruption – was voted out. The new regime, the Labour Party, has the support of its people and is making strides towards upgrading the country’s economy and reputation.

The new government hopes to erase the stigma of being thought of as a haven for money laundering. And it is establishing rules designed to stimulate the expansion of off shore gaming. This industry is perceived as an integral part of the program aimed at invigorating economic growth.

We visited Vegas Book (www.vegasbook.com), which started in January and is marketing itself as an operation that offers a secured credit card to customers – thus enabling them to access funds at their leisure via an ATM, getting a cash advance in a bank, or using the card at retailers, restaurants, etc.

This is accomplished through the establishment of an International Business Corporation into which funds are deposited, and then moved into the card.

The concept is attractive, but much of the appeal is to larger players and sophisticated investors who are familiar with IBC’s.

As a result of a slightly refocused marketing campaign, many current customers are being given the credit card at no charge, funding their account, and bypassing the IBC.

The book’s management realized that by emphasizing the IBC, it was excluding potentially 85 percent of the market. Now, in addition to catering to bigger players, Vegas Book is attracting a wider array of bettors.

It is emphasizing customer service, fast payouts, and a broad betting menu, said head bookmaker Steve, who noted that a number of substantial payouts have already been made to customers who hit parlays on baskets and baseball.

NBA action has fallen off, he added, explaining that, “The last week of the pro season is a bettor’s nightmare, as it is difficult to get an accurate fix on a team’s lineup or motivation. Consequently, it is hard to find an honest line.”

The book is operating out of a spacious new facility with cutting-edge telecommunications services provided by InSatCom, and is pointing toward the coming football season. Meanwhile, it is booking baseball at a 10-cent line up to 1.50. Volume is surprisingly strong, Steve noted.

Soon to move into an office area adjacent to Vegas Book is a shop that has been operating for several years out of a large private house on the island.

Cyberbetz (www.cyberbetz.com) drove initial growth through infusions of players by acquiring troubled books. However, as it prepares to move, it has strengthened its management team substantially and is looking to add many new customers through a vigorous marketing effort.
Kevin, who came on board last year to provide a healthy dose of professionalism to the bookmaking side, is moving to a new assignment. But one of his associates from the Dominican Republic, Rob, has joined Cyberbetz and brings strong BM and organizational skills to the operation.

His first project is implementing a training program to upgrade the skills of the book’s telephone clerks. “I know we can make our staff competitive with the best in the business, because they have shown a willingness to learn,” said Rob. “The most important quality in a clerk is to have a good attitude, and I like what I see.”

Also on the scene is a corporate liaison person, Michael, whose mission is to coordinate efforts between the home office in Vancouver and the operations center in Dominica. Essentially, his role is that of a go-between, and his top priority is to smooth the transition to the company’s new offices in Dominica.

The book caught a nice break in obtaining the new location. It was looking for expanded space when it discovered that the clearinghouse of a major credit card company relinquished its option to open an office in the facility due to the proximity to gaming operations.

Michael promised drastic changes in Cyberbetz’s sports book as it moves forward, including a bigger and more diversified betting menu, and faster payouts to customers. The book takes action over the phone and online, and also operates a popular cyber casino.

The third operation we visited, World Wide Wagering (www.wager.dm), is perhaps the oldest bookmaking shop on the island.

This book keeps a low profile, and enjoys steady growth based on limited but productive marketing and excellent word of mouth from existing customers. The book’s ability to service bettors from a compact and well designed betting floor is testament to the commitment to excellence from management.

The owner told us that the industry’s growth potential was sufficiently promising that he is considering a more aggressive marketing posture for next football season.
thedailyspread.com | April 13th, 2000

– – – – – – – – – – – –About the writer
A long time sports betting columnist, Buzz Daly

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