The Las Vegas sports book used to be the greatest place in the world for wagering and watching football. While football wagers may be on the upswing (we can discuss that another time) there’s a different atmosphere in the sports book. Not everyone watching football in a sports book today has a wager placed on the games. There are a good chunk of people who have money at risk on the games but they’re not via the traditional sports wager.
Fantasy football has changed how people consume and wager on football. In 2013 Forbes released a study stating that fantasy football was a $70 billion industry. When you add today’s daily fantasy leagues that number should be even larger. When people visit Las Vegas to watch football they’re not necessarily heading to the sports book to place a wager. They may just visit the sports book and are happy to root for their full season or daily fantasy football leagues.
There are two types of people that Las Vegas casino and sports book operators have to satisfy. First the sports book operators want to make sure that their gambling customers are happy. Second, the casino and sports book operators (not always the same people) want to make sure that their non-wagering customers are also able to enjoy the Vegas football experience. The traditional sports book experience was like no other football viewing experience in the world but, like everything else in Las Vegas, that’s changing.
Independent sports book operators like CG Technology and William Hill may require that you place wagers to sit and watch football in their sports book. CG Technology operates the sports book at The Venetian, Cosmopolitan, Palms and more while William Hill operates the sports book at downtown Las Vegas casinos like the D, Binions and Downtown Grand. Wager amounts differ for both companies and each sports book. William Hill may require just a single $2 parlay while CG Technology may require no less than a few hundred dollars wagered to snag a seat in their sports book. Again each property is different.
When MGM Resorts renovated the sports book at The Mirage they introduced a new level of sports book experience with a beautiful setup that includes VIP seating. A group of people can set up a guaranteed VIP couch with cocktail service to watch the games. Similar to VIP couches and tables in a nightclub your seats are guaranteed because of your cocktail spend. This concept has spread to other MGM Resorts hotels including Bellagio which now has more of a loungy feel to their sports book. There is still free general admission seating at these sports books but there are less of those seats available depending on the number of VIP customers looking for guaranteed seats.
The increased demand in viewing combined with decreased seating in the sports book has brought more football to other venues. Many bars and restaurants will be showing the games but there’s a bit of a twist. Some bar seats will remain first come first served. More bars and restaurants now offer special pricing during football games while other will offer viewing packages that will usually guarantee your seating to watch the games. This is more like watching the games in any sports bar or restaurant around the country and less like the traditional Vegas football experience. It’s still a way to watch the games if that’s really all that matters.
Earlier this year The D renovated their meeting spaces. In doing so they also outfitted some of their smaller meeting rooms to have a “Man Cave” feel. These meeting rooms have been outfitted with a leather couch, video games, beer pong table, pop-a-shot basketball game and 70” TV’s. You can place wagers at the sports book or via app since there is free wifi in the rooms/caves. This kind of space works for both a bettor or fantasy player. A minimum food and beverage purchase is required to reserve these spaces.
Lastly, there are still plenty of casinos to watch football and get that traditional Vegas sports book experience. The MGM properties still offer some free seating while casinos like the Westgate and Red Rock Resort offer entirely free viewing and the newest and best screens to watch the games.
Watching football in Las Vegas today isn’t what it was a few years ago and it’s not close to what it was 10-20 years ago. Then again nothing in Las Vegas is what it used to be. That’s part of evolution. Hate the changes or love them there is still nothing like watching football in Las Vegas.
What is your favorite place to watch? Do you play 1 day Fantasy Leagues? Please share your personal experiences.
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