05/24/2001 11:00PM

Manteris makes quick comeback


On May 5, Point Given finished fifth as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby and Art Manteris resigned as director of the Las Vegas Hilton's race and sports book. Both events came as surprises.

But just as Point Given came back to win the Preakness Stakes, Manteris is back in the race and sports book business, as vice president for race and sports operations for Station Casinos Inc.

That Manteris returned to the casino business so soon comes as a surprise, because when Manteris ended his 15-year run as head of the Las Vegas Hilton's race and sports book - known as the SuperBook - he announced to his staff: "It is time to move on."

As recently as late last week, the 20-year veteran of the race and sports book business said he was planning a return to the industry, but not until "some time in the future." Of course, by then negotiations for his new position at Station Casinos must have been in the final stages. Obviously Manteris did not want to make a premature announcement of his new job.

On Monday, Blake Sartini, Station Casinos executive vice president and chief operating, announced the hiring of Manteris.

Manteris will join the company on July 1. That gives him time to squeeze in some planned travel, including a quick European trip with his family.

Concurrent with the hiring of Manteris, Station Casinos announced that current race and sports director Rob Terry will move to the company's senior operations team. Terry was instrumental in the design and operation of the company's Sunset Station race and sports book, which opened in 1998, then was promoted to his current position in 1999, a move that sent him to the Station's bookmaking hub at the Palace Station.

Terry on Wednesday said he has been interested in the operations side of the business for some time and is eager to start his new job.

Manteris, who will report directly to Sartini, brings an extensive resume to his new position. A graduate of the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Manteris held management positions at several of the town's best-known race and sports books, including the Barbary Coast and Caesars Palace, before his Hilton tenure. Manteris played a key role in the development of the SuperBook, which was a state-of-the-art facility when it opened in 1986.

In addition to being the author of a book on the race and sports book industry, entitled "SuperBookie," published in 1991, Manteris helped bring many big boxing matches to the Las Vegas Hilton.

Station Casinos may not be well-known outside Nevada, but it is the biggest operator of casinos aimed at local gamblers in Las Vegas. The company operates the hotel-casinos Palace Station, Boulder Station, Texas Station, Sunset Station, and Sante Fe Station as well as the Fiesta, Wild Wild West, and the Reserve. Station Casinos is currently building the Resort at Green Valley, scheduled to open later this year, and operates Barley's Brew Pub casino in the suburb of Henderson.

When the Las Vegas Hilton was on the block last year, Los Angeles developer Ed Roski Jr. struck a deal to buy it. Roski, who owns the Silverton hotel-casino at the southern edge of Las Vegas, wanted to turn the Hilton into a casino for local gamblers in addition to its longtime role as convention center.

Roski persuaded Manteris to stay with the property after the sale. But the purchase fell through, and Manteris decided to move on. Now Manteris joins the very company that could have been his major competitor if Roski had bought the Hilton.

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