I was brought in by Chuck DiRocco to work specifically on the satellite and other businesses including an early stage bottled water company and cellular phone rental business. The majority of the focus became the satellite business with casino and gaming control board interaction.
Chuck DiRocco and Eileen DiRocco of Las Vegas founded the first end to end satellite uplink and downlink system with race tracks all over the country bringing the live signal / live races to the casinos of Nevada. Chuck and Eileen changed the way we watch live sports.
Chuck was an underdog entry and lightning rod that stood up to and overcame some powerful forces in Las Vegas and the Gaming Industry.
Chuck DiRocco started Sports Form newspaper in 1976 as a labor of love in a small, second floor office on Main Street. Later he moved to a store-front on Industrial Road and I would visit him in those cramped quarters occasionally. Eventually the paper grew into GamingToday.
Chuck was a visionary with a “take no prisoners” entrepreneurial spirit. He built a business that was involved in, and influenced, nearly every facet of the racebook industry in Nevada. From that little store-front location Chuck took on some very powerful people. He brought his pet French bulldog, Charlie, with him to the office every day and it was a dead heat as to who was the real bulldog.
On numerous occasions, Chuck said, “If you aren’t my friend you must be my enemy.” Being a visionary with a hard-nosed drive to get it done, he made a few enemies. So what as far as Chuck was concerned – get with him or get out of the way.
Chuck pioneered bringing live simulcasts to Nevada’s racebooks. First, however, he had to convince the Gaming Commission he was suitable to be granted an unrestricted license and prove simulcasts of live races would be safe from corruption. That was quite a load for a guy who came to Las Vegas with no “juice.”
After he got the thumbs up from gaming regulators, his next hurdle was to sell the casinos and stand-alone racebook owners. (Not all racebooks were in casinos in those days.) To do this he came up with a unique presentation. His sales pitch was bringing in a single race from Arlington Park in Chicago. He set up a big screen in the showroom at the Union Plaza downtown to display his dream project and invited all the owners and racebook managers.
What happened next was the telling point that live simulcasts would be a huge success. Just before post time of that single race, without prompting, the showroom almost emptied as guests ran out to the racebook to bet on the race, myself included (a loser of course). That’s all the owners needed to see – they were sold! Simulcasts and horse bettors are an entry. Simulcast races haven’t looked back since.