Gambling was once the main revenue generator for Las Vegas casinos. Along with food and beverage, hotel rooms, and amenities, it’s just part of the revenue mix today. Casino floors have changed a lot over the years to make room for what generates the most revenue for casino operators.
Sports books were once an amenity that would keep gamblers inside of the casino in between sessions at the tables. The big beautiful sports books are still amenities but they’re expected to generate revenue like every other part of the casino. According to UNLV Gaming, more than $4 billion was legally wagered on sports in Nevada 2016. Nearly $1.7 billion of that was wagered on football.
Football has always been big business for sports books in Nevada and Las Vegas. There is more money wagered on football in the state than any other sport for at least the past 25 years. Las Vegas sports books used to just be crowded for football games. Today, the same spaces are overflowing thanks to the growth of fantasy football.
According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, there are nearly 60 million people playing fantasy sports in the United States and Canada. That’s quite a bit more than the 500,000 people who were playing in 1998. Much like gambling, football is the favorite sport for fantasy players. On average each player spends more than $500 on their fantasy games.
Fantasy football players around the country descend on Las Vegas sports books to watch the games. They may have a wager on the game but the focus for fantasy players are the individual players for their teams. Noticing this trend bar, restaurant, and casino operators in Las Vegas have changed how they operate during football season. There has been a noticeable shift from marketing to football bettors to football fans.
Las Vegas Sportsbooks are no longer just for casino gamblers….or are they?
Watching Football In Las Vegas
There’s no better experience for football fans than watching every game at the same time in a Las Vegas sports book. I’d say the experience is better and more fun than actually going to a game. Then again, I’m a Jets fan.
Besides the game action, there is a buzz in the crowd from people wagering on the games. Add the fantasy players and there are “ooh’s and ahh’s” all day. The atmosphere is intoxicating and something you won’t get anywhere that doesn’t have legal sports betting.
Related: My Favorite Las Vegas Sports Books
All of the new football fans means that not everyone watching the games in the sports book are wagering on the games like they used to. You can watch the games for free in many casinos but not all. Some sports book operators have taken new routes to generate revenue.
Sports book operators want to make sure that their best customers can comfortably watch the games they wager on. Many sports books will reserve seats for their best players. For example, the CG Technology sports book at The Venetian reserves about 95% of the seats for customers placing wagers. There might be a row of seats available to anyone. There’s also a bar at the back of the sports book for anyone to use. Of course, you’ll be expected to pay for drinks or play video poker if you’re at the bar. There are a few other options to watch the games at The Venetian but not many.
Some casino operators reserve seats in the sports book for their best customers while allowing other customers to pay to reserve a seat. This allows fans, gamblers, and fantasy players access to the best seats in the house. It’s also a way to guarantee a seat for the games since most sports book seats are first come, first served.
This year Caesars Palace introduced a reservation system for watching football games in their sports book. Reserved seats can cost anywhere from $100 to $275 for the weekend games. As of the writing of this article, they’ve stopped charging a reservation fee for Monday and Thursday Night NFL games. Each seat usually comes with an allotment of drinks. Some seats may be first come, first served depending on the day and bar seating is open to anyone.
There are also more bars and restaurants showing football games. PBR Rock Bar at Planet Hollywood now has TV’s everywhere. It’s become a sports bar and is one of my favorite places to watch the games if I’m not in a sports book. There might be a minimum required spend on food/drink per person but the reservation ensures a seat to watch the action. Semi-related: Ask for well-done tater tots at PBR Rock Bar.
There are also hybrid sports books, restaurants, and bars. You can wager at a sports book at Umami Burger at SLS and Lagasse’s Stadium. Of course, you can download a mobile sports wagering app and never leave your seat wherever you choose to watch the games.
Nothing in Las Vegas is the same as it used to be. Fantasy football players have helped change the football experience in casinos. Between gamblers and fantasy players, there are more football fans in Las Vegas than ever. The action in sports books, bars, and restaurants is more electric during football games than ever before.