Taking a gamble in Vegas

The Palms debuts its new race and sports book – complete with a poker room!

By Renée LiButti

The new Cantor Race and Sports Book opened last Friday at the Palms Casino Resort. It boasts an eye-catching multicolored display board, chic décor and the hip new Tonic Bar. There’s also a gigantic 1,290-square-foot LED video screen capable of showing 33 independent sporting events and 12 independent horse races simultaneously. However, the highlight of the facility is that it now houses a poker room.

The poker room in Cantor Race and Sports Book at the Palms

Eight poker tables are part of the new Cantor Race and Sports Book at the Palms.

“We pride ourselves on bringing passion and innovation to the age of gaming, and the launch of our new race and sports book with the Palms is no exception,” said Lee Amaitis, president and CEO of Cantor Gaming. “The poker area within our race and sports book is a first in Las Vegas and one we believe sports and poker fans will find immensely convenient and exciting.”

In November of 2011, the Palms announced its partnership with Cantor Gaming, a division of the prominent financial firm Cantor Fitzgerald. Well-respected and well-known for revolutionizing the sports wagering experience, Cantor Gaming owns and operates six race and sports books in Las Vegas. In addition to the Palms, you’ll find them located in the Tropicana, the M Resort, The Venetian, the Hard Rock Hotel and The Cosmopolitan. Cantor Gaming also handles the betting shop in Lagasse’s Stadium at The Palazzo.

“We are extremely excited. We have a great relationship with the Cantor folks and this is the ‘ultimate’ for us,” said Rich Strafella, the vice president of casino operations at the Palms. “Our players have supported us and been very loyal here at the Palms for 10 1/2 years, and now we have something so state-of-the-art for them that it’s going to be a very exciting time for everybody.”

The Palms shut down its existing race and sports book for remodeling early this year. The multimillion-dollar renovation project – spanning 9,840 square feet – took less than three months to complete.

Now guests are immersed in luxury when they enter Cantor Race and Sports Book at the Palms. The refurbishment has brought hand-stitched leather walls, plush furnishings, custom stria carpet and polished flooring made from Michelangelo Marble to the facility. Wagering can be done from 93 sleek carrels – all of which are able to handle both race and sports bets.

“We promised that when the wall [concealing the transformation] came down everyone would be very impressed,” said Strafella at the ribbon cutting. “I was here late last night when it was removed, and the buzz from the people just walking by was a complete ‘wow’ factor.”

The ribbon cutting for the new Cantor Race and Sports Book at the Palms

Rich Strafella, vice president of casino operations at the Palms, and Lee Amaitis, president and CEO of Cantor Gaming, unveil the new Cantor Race and Sports Book at a ribbon cutting inside the Palms.

Cantor Gaming brings a new type of experience to social and serious gamblers at the Palms, which is already renowned for its resort offerings – from the comfortable rooms and creative suites to the restaurants, bars and nightclubs. And the Palms does the same for Cantor Gaming’s customers.

“We have a wonderful facility for their players as well as the convenience factor – from parking your car and quickly getting in and out of the race and sports book to staying in our rooms. We can provide all of this along with great dining and other venues,” explained Strafella. “And Cantor has no restrictions on what they want to do with their players. Their database is also extensive, and we’ll get the opportunity to share in that. So there are advantages for us both.”

Of course, it’s the opportunity to play poker that will greatly alter the race and sports book experience here. In casinos, they tend to be situated near each other, but separated by walls of some kind. This is the first time that a poker room has been merged with a race and sports book in such a way that it is exposed.

Seven tables are nestled between the betting carrels and the Tonic Bar. A private room with glass walls and Macassar ebony wood panels is for VIPs and high-stakes games. Amaitis noted the new poker area will be something of a “laboratory” that his company will observe closely.

The carrels and video screen at Cantor Race and Sports Book inside the Palms

There are a total of 93 fluid wagering carrels at Cantor Race and Sports Book inside the Palms.

“The poker player actually tends to be a very sports-oriented individual,” explained Strafella. “So the convenience of making a wager and watching your favorite team play – to have all of that in front of you – well, it just couldn’t get any better.”

The whole transition has been seamless. The poker room at the Palms closed on Thursday at midnight to be replaced by the new one in the Cantor Race and Sports Book, which opened to the public on Friday at noon. During construction, Cantor Gaming operated a temporary sports book from a kiosk adjacent to The Mint, a high-limit lounge on the Palms’ main floor. Initially, executives were unsure about how it would be received – but after just one day, they determined the kiosk should remain in operation indefinitely.

“It has been welcomed by so many people because of the convenience of the parking garage and the ability to run in and out,” said Strafella. “Our hotel guests love coming down from their rooms and being able to make a bet. It’s created a lot of foot traffic over there too.”

Along with gambling in the race and sports book and at the auxiliary kiosk, customers can utilize the latest in technology at the Palms. This means they can place bets while they explore the resort and its amenities by using Cantor Gaming’s mobile sports wagering application on their Android devices, like phones and tablets. If a guest doesn’t have any of these items, a Cantor Gaming-owned device will gladly be provided.

“We are honored to partner with the Palms and provide sports betting patrons and poker fans with an unbeatable experience as our technology once again paves the way to a new world of wagering,” said Amaitis.

Indeed, race and sports betting is quicker, easier and more sophisticated than you ever imagined possible at the Palms. And, thanks to Cantor Gaming, the future is sure to hold many more thrilling advances. You can put money on it!


I’m a Las Vegas native. By profession, I write at Vegas.com. Mostly about the city’s hotels, but on other topics – gaming and transportation – too. I really love staying at hotels. And the ones here are among the biggest and best in the world. Some key things I’ve learned: Resort fees are inescapable (frustrating but true), a friendly attitude at the front desk may score you a great view and over-the-top room amenities – bath butlers, Japanese tea service, menus with “intimate” items – do exist. What else should you know about me? Well, I’m comfortable at a blackjack table. And I like eating late-night pancakes in hotel coffee shops. A lot. Follow Renee on Google+.