07/14/2005 11:00PM

For Magliulo, the time was right

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They say there is a time and a place for everything. So, when the news came down that Vinny Magliulo was stepping down as race and sports book director at Wynn Las Vegas, the time for rumors started. Why in the world would Vinny leave a place like Wynn?

Magliulo, who worked his way from dealing table games to casino marketing to race and sports director, has heard the rumors that always surface when someone moves on. Voluntarily or otherwise. So, when the 27-year veteran of the casino business asked to be relieved as head of the most prestigious race and sports book in Las Vegas - a book he helped design and had opened just six weeks ago - the only question was why?

It was a matter of time - time that Magliulo wanted to spend with his family.

Magliulo, 48, is a perfectionist, and his dedication takes him way beyond a 9-5 shift.

"It's a position that needs complete and undivided attention," said Magliulo of his job at Wynn Las Vegas. That means working weekends after a long week. It's a 24/7 job in a 24/7 town.

With no time left for his family, Magliulo had to decide between the job and the family. Magliulo shared his thoughts with the executives at Wynn, and everyone there understood.

But before he could leave, Magliulo had to find a replacement. Magliulo recommended John Avello, a longtime friend and the director of race and sports at Bally's Las Vegas.

Avello and Magliulo go back to the days when they dealt dice at the Barbary Coast in 1979, a friendship that has seen both rise to the top of their profession. Avello was as surprised to get the call as he was to hear of Magliulo's decision to step down. He knew that simply being recommended for a position doesn't always guarantee the job, but Magliulo knew he had selected the right person. Apparently, so did Wynn Las Vegas.

Avello leaves after a 15-year run at Bally's. His innovative approach to race and sports betting will bring players to the Wynn. His future books on the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup are just a few offerings that kept race bettors around the country playing at Bally's.

Although Magliulo has found comfort in his unwavering priorities, he is certain not to wander too far away from a business he loves. But, for now, it's the love of family first.

For Avello, his major concern is not pulling into his Bally's parking space by mistake. Some habits are hard to break.

Ralph Siraco is turf editor for the Las Vegas Sun and host of the Race Day Las Vegas radio show.