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Leroy's Horse & Sports Place

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Leroy's Horse & Sports Place, also known as Leroy's Race and Sport Book or simply Leroy's, was an operator of sports books in Nevada. As of 2012, it had 72 race and sports books and kiosks. It was based in Las Vegas. Leroy's parent company, American Wagering, was purchased by British bookmaker William Hill in 2012, and its locations were rebranded under the William Hill name.


Inception & expansion (1978-1996)[edit]

In 1978, businessman Leroy Merillat bought a sportsbook in a strip mall in Downtown Las Vegas, and named it “Leroy’s” after himself.[1][2] The following year, Nevada gaming regulators found Merillat unsuitable for licensing because of questions about the propriety of a land deal in California, and he was forced to sell the business.[3][4] Merillat sold the operation to his son-in-law, Vic Salerno, in 1979.[1][5]

Nevada sportsbooks at the time were predominantly independent operations, rarely found in casinos.[6][7] Around 1983, the popularity of sportsbooks began to boom and they started to become more common in casinos.[6][7] Salerno developed one of the first computerized sportsbook management systems to make his operation more efficient and able to compete with the large casinos.[8]

In 1984, Salerno and two partners formed CBS Computer Systems to market their system to other sportsbook operators.[1] The company, which shared the building with Leroy's, was soon providing systems to almost all of Las Vegas's bookmakers.[8] They sold CBS in 1989 to United Tote for $3.5 million.[9][10]

In June 1989, Nevada law was changed to allow outside operators for casino sportsbooks, and Leroy's quickly took advantage of the new law by beginning to open branches in casinos.[8][11][12] By 1992, Leroy's was the only independent sportsbook in the state, and had branches operating in 30 casinos.[13]

As publicly traded company (1996-2012)[edit]

Leroy's was placed under a holding company, American Wagering, Inc. (AWI), and made its initial public offering in May 1996.[14][15] Leroy's had 35 locations at the time.[16] The funds raised in the IPO were used to complete the purchase of a 150-room Howard Johnson's hotel and casino near the Las Vegas Strip, which the company planned to remodel as a sports-themed resort.[17]

In October 1996, AWI bought CBS back from Autotote Corp. for $3 million, and renamed it as Computerized Bookmaking Systems.[18][19]

AWI agreed in April 1997 to buy Imagineering Systems, a maker of keno systems, for $3 million,[20] but canceled the deal in September 1997, deciding instead to build a progressive keno system in-house.[21] Imagineering sued AWI for breach of contract, and was eventually awarded $1.2 million.[22] Meanwhile, AWI launched The Game, a keno offering with progressive jackpots linked to multiple casinos, in August 1999.[23] The company closed its keno operations in 2002.[24]

In July 1997, AWI and International Game Technology jointly launched MegaSports, a parimutuel sports betting system offering high-value progressive jackpots to bettors at Leroy's and other Nevada sportbooks.[25][26] The company shut down the project in 2000.[27]

AWI, through an Australian subsidiary, launched an online site offering race and sports betting under the MegaSports name in 1999.[28] The site accepted wagers worldwide, except from bettors located in the United States.[28] It was believed to the first online gambling venture by a company licensed in Nevada.[29] Trouble arose, however, later that year, when the Nevada Gaming Commission accused MegaSports of accepting bets from an agent located in Las Vegas who went through a Canadian Internet provider.[30] AWI was ultimately forced to sell the site, or risk losing its Nevada gaming license.[31] MegaSports was sold in July 2002 to Eurast Ltd. of Perth for $2.8 million.[31]

The Howard Johnson's hotel was sold in July 1999 for $4.3 million.[32]

Michael Racusin, a financial consultant who assisted with the IPO, filed a lawsuit claiming he was not paid his full fee.[33] After a court awarded him $1.3 million in July 2003, American Wagering was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.[33] Youbet.com attempted to buy the company out of bankruptcy for $9.5 million,[34] but eventually withdrew its offer.[35] The company emerged from bankruptcy in March 2005, with most debts having been paid in full, and shareholders retaining their equity in the company.[36][37]

The company acquired Sturgeon's Inn & Casino in Lovelock, Nevada in March 2006 for $1.8 million.[38][39]

In 2007, Leroy's began opening sports betting kiosks at its casino locations, allowing patrons with established accounts to place bets at all hours of the day.[40] The following year, the kiosks began being installed in bars and taverns as well.[40]

The company began releasing mobile betting applications for smartphones in 2010,[41] which proved popular.[42]

In June 2012, British bookmaker William Hill bought American Wagering for $18 million, along with Lucky's Race & Sports Book and the satellite sportsbook operations of Club Cal Neva.[42][43] Salerno was named chairman of William Hill U.S., overseeing 55 percent of the state's sportsbook locations, all of which were rebranded under the William Hill name.[44]


As of 2012, Leroy's operated sportsbooks and kiosks at 72 locations,[42] including:[45]


  1. ^ a b c Zacks, Richard (January 8, 1989). "High-tech bookie: The man who took Vegas by computer". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2018-05-05.
  2. ^ Stutz, Howard (April 24, 2011). "Leroy's owner still ahead of game". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2018-05-04.
  3. ^ "Vegan still faces opposition to his sports book". Reno Gazette-Journal. AP. June 14, 1979 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ "Nev. gaming board head under guard after mob threat". Variety. July 4, 1979. ProQuest 1401354884.  – via ProQuest (subscription required)
  5. ^ "NGC head raps Argent probe, poor judgment in licensing ops". Variety. September 26, 1979. ProQuest 1286033838.  – via ProQuest (subscription required)
  6. ^ a b Schnedler, Jack (October 30, 1988). "The boom in Las Vegas sports books". Chicago Sun-Times – via NewsBank.
  7. ^ a b Sieroty, Chris (July 15, 2012). "Salerno helped build Leroy's into a powerhouse". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2018-05-04.
  8. ^ a b c Beyer, Andrew (August 20, 1991). "One for the bookies". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-05-05.
  9. ^ "United Tote agrees to buy Nevada's leading race/sports wagering equipment company" (Press release). United Tote. March 27, 1989. ProQuest 444877249.  – via ProQuest (subscription required)
  10. ^ "United Tote reports financial results" (Press release). United Tote. May 25, 1989. ProQuest 447100133.  – via ProQuest (subscription required)
  11. ^ "Sports book approved". Reno Gazette-Journal. November 18, 1989 – via Newspapers.com.
  12. ^ 1989 Statutes of Nevada, Chapter 519 - An act relating to gaming; temporarily allowing the operation of a sports pool or race book at a nonrestricted operation by a licensee other than the person licensed to operate the nonrestricted operation... June 26, 1989. Retrieved 2018-05-05.
  13. ^ Rose, Elaine (January 5, 1992). "A sporting chance: Nevada's bet on sports pays high volume, but low profits". Press of Atlantic City – via NewsBank.
  14. ^ "Sports book operator poised to exit bankruptcy". Las Vegas Sun. 16 September 2004. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  15. ^ Form 10-K (Report). American Wagering. 1 May 2000. p. 46.
  16. ^ Krasne, Elliot S. (March 17, 1996). "Wagering firm goes public". Press of Atlantic City – via NewsBank.
  17. ^ "American Wagering, Inc. announces completion of initial public offering" (Press release). American Wagering. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  18. ^ "American Wagering, Inc. announces acquisition of Nevada-based Autotote CBS Inc" (Press release). American Wagering. 30 October 1996. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  19. ^ Form 10-K (Report). American Wagering. 1 May 2000. p. 2.
  20. ^ "American Wagering to buy keno company". Las Vegas Review-Journal. 14 April 1997. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  21. ^ "Change of Plans for American Wagering". Casino City Times. 4 September 1998. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  22. ^ "Nevada sports book operator files plan for reorganization". Las Vegas Sun. 24 February 2004. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  23. ^ "LV firm tests new game". Las Vegas Sun. August 25, 1999. Retrieved 2018-05-18.
  24. ^ Form 10-KSB: Annual Report (Report). American Wagering. May 1, 2002. p. 1. Retrieved 2018-05-18.
  25. ^ John Stearns (August 30, 1997). "Mega$ports hopes to gain yardage with football". Reno Gazette-Journal – via Newspapers.com.
  26. ^ Form 10-KSB: Annual Report (Report). American Wagering. May 1, 1998. pp. 8–9 – via EDGAR.
  27. ^ Form 10-K: Annual Report (Report). American Wagering. May 1, 2000. p. 2 – via EDGAR.
  28. ^ a b Form 10-K (Report). American Wagering. May 1, 2000. p. 4 – via EDGAR.
  29. ^ Form 10-K (Report). American Wagering. May 1, 2000. p. 1 – via EDGAR.
  30. ^ Brunker, Mike (December 24, 2001). "U.S. firms in trouble over Net betting". MSNBC. Retrieved 2012-04-01.
  31. ^ a b "Mega$ports dumps Aussie sportsbook". Gaming Today. July 9, 2002. Retrieved 2012-04-01.
  32. ^ "American Wagering finishes LV hotel sale". Las Vegas Sun. 7 July 1999. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  33. ^ a b Berke, Jonathan (3 May 2004). "All bets off for American Wagering". The Daily Deal. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  34. ^ "Youbet.com eyes rival firm's stock". Daily News of Los Angeles. October 7, 2004 – via NewsBank.
  35. ^ "Youbet.com withdraws its reorganization plan for American Wagering; separately, Youbet receives positive settlement of insurance claim" (Press release). Youbet.com. January 14, 2005 – via NewsBank.
  36. ^ "Bankruptcy court approves amended plan". Las Vegas Sun. June 7, 2005. Retrieved 2018-05-04.
  37. ^ "American Wagering and Leroy's Emerge from Bankruptcy" (Press release). American Wagering. 14 March 2005. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  38. ^ "American Wagering completes acquisition" (Press release). American Wagering. March 3, 2006. Retrieved 2018-05-06.
  39. ^ Form 10-KSB: Annual Report (Report). American Wagering. May 31, 2007. p. 37 – via EDGAR.
  40. ^ a b Benston, Liz (January 5, 2008). "Sports betting made easier, at bars and beyond". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved 2018-05-04.
  41. ^ Sieroty, Chris (28 March 2012). "Leroy's sports betting app for iPad released". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2018-01-21.
  42. ^ a b c Sieroty, Chris (April 14, 2011). "British bookmaker to buy two Nevada sports betting companies". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2018-05-04.
  43. ^ Green, Steve (28 June 2012). "William Hill, Affinity in long-term sports betting deal". Vegas Inc. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  44. ^ Velotta, Richard N. (21 June 2012). "British oddsmaker William Hill gets OK to operate 159 books in Nevada". Vegas Inc. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  45. ^ "All Leroy's Locations". Leroy's Sportsbook. Archived from the original on 2012-04-19.