Sportsbook icon Jimmy Vaccaro explains his decision to leave Las Vegas for Pittsburgh

After finishing the paperwork first thing this morning, former bookmaker Jimmy Vaccaro was going to start a new job today at Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh.

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Having spent most of the last 40 years in Las Vegas, Bacaro will be starting his new gig at the Rivers Casino, building a storied career in becoming one of the most celebrated sportsbook figures in the United States. Coincidentally, the Rush Street Game Building is located about 20 miles west of Trafford, a small city with a population of a few thousand, where he frequented local swimming pools and gambling houses as a teenager to learn about sports betting.

The move has been rife with rumors over the past few months, but at least in public, it has kept quiet about its decision to take on an advisory role at the South Point Hotel Casino and Spa Sportsbook. But on the eve of the start of a new era in Keystone, Casino City had a chat with him about how it all came about and why he ultimately decided to go home.

“Really, it’s not as big a deal as everyone’s pulling it off,” Vaccaro said by phone Thursday afternoon from his new dig in Pennsylvania. “It just comes at the young age of 73, when you want to do something different. It’s something new for me, because I don’t run a sportsbook for them or make big decisions. And to be able to have the opportunity to do it where I grew up is just something I really wanted to try.”

Of course, none of this would have been possible without the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in May to repeal the 1992 Pro and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). This opened the door for states outside of Nevada to begin legally accepting single-game sports gambling.

Within a few months, several states began opening sports books, and Bacaro acknowledged that people at Rivers Casino were not the only ones inquiring about his services.

“I was contacted by other states about the move, but there was no way I could go west or south in Vegas,” he explained. “There was nothing against those other states, but the only place I would consider moving was Pennsylvania.”

Sure enough, about five months ago, Rivers Casino General Manager Bill Kina appeared unannounced at South Point and introduced himself to Bacaro.

“I didn’t even know him and I didn’t expect him to come,” Vaccaro said. “He came and found me and we had a pleasant conversation. I told him he wanted to work out something that would come back to me with an offer and I’ll consider it.”

A month later, Kina returned to South Point, this time with Greg Carlin, co-founder and CEO of Rush Street Gaming.

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