By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
Atlantis’ new $5 million race and sports book facility will probably generate 20-30 new jobs, its top executive said yesterday, telling Tribune Business that weekend traffic “in the hundreds” had exceeded initial expectations.
“We’re having hundreds over the weekend, said Brookfield Hospitality’s president and managing directo, George Markantonis.
“On a weekend we’re jam packed here. In fact, we don’t have seats; people are sitting on the floor. We’re going to bring in more lounge and sofa seating because they love the technology that’s on view here.
“Just the bar alone is doing huge numbers now. People like to have a drink when they’re watching sports. We weren’t expecting the crowds that we’re getting on the weekends. We have been taken a little bit taken aback by that,” Mr Markantonis added.
“The beautiful things is we have had to add staff to keep up with the volume. Overall, I think this whole race and sports facility is probably adding 20-30 jobs. It may be seasonal, too.
“The peak season for sports is September 1 through February 28. The reason is you have college football, NFL, you have baseball playoffs taking place right now, On October 31, the Miami Heat start the NBA season with their first game, and ice hockey has started. When you have all those sports playing at the same time, that’s when sports betting is at its peak.”
Mr Markantonis said the new offering gives potential customers another reason to visit Atlantis.
“It gives our potential customers one more reason to come here. If we can get more heads in beds then that’s the whole point,” said Mr Markantonis.
He added that Atlantis had spent about $45 million so far this year on capital projects, stating: “We’re not done yet”.
The new sports book and horse race wagering facility for Atlantis customers is operated by Las Vegas-based Cantor Gaming. Atlantis reached an agreement with Cantor Gaming earlier this year to provide a complete mobile casino gaming and mobile sports wagering solution, marking the first time that the Bahamas has offered mobile gaming to tourists.
Cantor Gaming, an affiliate of Cantor Fitzgerald, operates seven sports books in Las Vegas, as well as a poker room at the Palms and mobile wager apps.
Mr Markantonis said it was difficult to make a projection on potential revenue to be derived from the new facility. “It’s very hard to make a projection like that because, in the end, Cantor is going to absorb the risk,” he added.
“What happens for Atlantis is that we basically have a tenant in Cantor, but we also participate in the upside of revenues. We have guaranteed minimum payouts to us, which are higher than what we could have done if we were doing it on our own anyway. Where we gain is by attracting people who are going to come and stay here and want all of the various amenities. The traveller today is subject to a lot of sites and sounds all the time.”
Speaking on the new race and sports book, Lee Amaitis, Cantor Gaming, chief executive, said: “We saw the opportunity for our mobile technology to be deployed here. We had conversations with the executives on the property way back about the idea.
“George and I talked about the idea of expanding the footprint into race and sports. With the Gaming Board’s permission we started the investments. We think it’s a great opportunity for anybody that comes to the Bahamas, and mostly the whole eastern section of the US spends a lot of time free.
“Sports wagering is very popular. It’s an easy investment for us because we know it’s going to be very popular, we know it’s going to create jobs and a lot of interest. It’s very exciting.”