The First Weekend of March Madness
There have been concerns about Las Vegas losing its place atop the sports betting world once other states were allowed to legalize gambling on sports. Well, that’s going to take some time. Las Vegas sports books have been packed as usual for the first weekend of March Madness.
Some of the March Madness watch parties sold out in advance as usual. Even Caesars Palace sold out of reserved seats in the sports book in advance. These seats are normally general admission and free. Caesars Palace Las Vegas charges to reserve seats for big events like the Super Bowl and first weekend March Madness. The least expensive seats they reserve are in the walkway behind the bar near the entrance to Omnia.
Betting – Outpacing the Super Bowl
It looks like people in Las Vegas aren’t just watching the games. They’re betting on the games (duh). Before the weekend was over, Las Vegas Sports Book operators have been saying that the amount of money bet on the 48 NCAA Tournament games over the weekend is outpacing the Super Bowl. We should hear the official numbers soon. Some casino operators are pushing the limits for party pricing much like they’re pushing the limits on fees. Just about every March Madness party on the Vegas Strip was $100-$150 per day. That’s a lot of money but plenty of people are willing to pay.
Much like fees, we’ll see party pricing and reserved seat prices drop or go away when customers decide it’s too much money. For the time being, hotels in Las Vegas are near capacity, parties are selling out and people are betting on games during one of the busiest weekends of the year in Las Vegas. The other states should do well from sports betting but Las Vegas isn’t going to die right away. It’s still a great party destination with a sports betting experience that cannot be matched…yet. Give the other states some time to catch up but don’t shed a tear for Nevada.
Speaking of Fees In Las Vegas
Back in September, we told you to look out for a blast of promotions from Caesars Entertainment in the fourth quarter. They decided that they can “weaponize” their Caesars Rewards (formerly Total Rewards) database to offer promotions for tourists. Many of you saw the deluge of complimentary rooms, discounts, and other offers. During earnings calls earlier this year, both Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts have said they don’t plan on changing their fee structure.
Instead of getting rid of fees they are keeping them and offering no-fee promotions for tourists. This allows them to keep the fees for business travelers while offering discounts for leisure travelers. The Las Vegas Review-Journal has more on the subject if you’re curious. Leading up to March Madness I’ve had to let a lot of new visitors know that there are plenty more casino-hotels in Las Vegas that aren’t on the Vegas Strip that offer good value and good times.
Check Out Off-Strip
If you’re looking for value, check out some properties off the Vegas Strip. There are some unique casinos once you leave the Strip. Coincidentally, I was attacked by a swan outside of Rampart Casino the other day while walking through the gardens between the steakhouse and sports book. This isn’t the Las Vegas I grew up with but it’s a nice alternative to the chaos I love every now and again.
Also check out: 3 Dining Hot Spots Near The Vegas Strip
“As Caesars Turns”
It’s time for another episode of “As Caesars Turns.” This week there are rumors about Eldorado Resorts buying or reverse mergering with Caesars Entertainment. The rumor about Tilman Fertitta purchasing Caesars is alive once again. MGM Resorts says they will not buy Caesars. Lastly, Carl Icahn continues to buy more shares of Caesars Entertainment.
I honestly have no idea what’s going to happen with Caesars. I’m not going to guess because I don’t have a strong feeling in any direction. I’ll just share the information so you can keep up on the drama.
- The week started with Reuters reporting that Eldorado Resorts and Caesars Entertainment are discussing a merger. No offer has been made yet. You can read about the discussions here.
- During the J.P. Morgan Gaming & Lodging Management Access Forum, MGM Resorts reiterated that they are not buying Caesars. Read more here.
- Carl Icahn now owns 28.5 percent of the stock available for Caesars. The New York Post says that Tilman Fertitta “is gearing up to make a second run at Caesars Entertainment.” You can read more about Icahn and Fertitta here.
This is exhausting. Let’s just get a deal done so we can all move on.
Astral Las Vegas? Maybe a New Vegas Casino?
Last year Asher Gabay, owner of Astral Hotels, purchased the Motel 8 across the street from Mandalay Bay for $7.4 million. He now has plans to build a new hotel on that land. He intends to break ground on the new casino-hotel in 2020 and finish in 2022. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal (reposted at Best of Las Vegas without the paywall), Astral Las Vegas will be tiny in comparison to its big gold neighbor across the street. Here are some specs:
- Sky lobby on the 32nd floor
- Rooftop pool
- Nightclub and dayclub
- Four levels of underground parking (a la Cosmopolitan)
I Will Believe It – When I Start Seeing Work
The budget to build this project is only around $350 million. That’s less than it cost Station Casinos to renovate Palms Casino Resort and less than MGM Resorts paid to transform Monte Carlo into Park MGM. There’s a year until construction is scheduled to begin. I’m all for new casinos in Las Vegas but I’ll believe this idea will happen when I start seeing work. Never forget Astral Las Vegas’ neighbor, Tiny the Tumbleweed.
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Here are a few more Vegas nuggets if you can’t get enough Vegas news:
- The Strat is now part of the BW Premier Collection by Best Western. Casino Royale is still part of Best Western but the accommodations don’t qualify as “premiere.” Read more about BW Premier and The Strat here.
- The Venetian is now offering the “experience of a lifetime.” The “Want the World” package starts at $450,000. You can see the details here.
- Jerry Seinfeld is back at Caesars Palace in September and November. Read more here.
- The Donny & Marie residency at Flamingo will end this year. Read more here.
- The Strat sports book is open. I’ll check it out next week. Here are a couple of press photos to hold you over.
- The new restaurant at Palms Casino Resort will have the first permanent Banksy installation. You have to enter the restaurant through an arcade and down a hall because every new business in a casino needs an elaborate entrance. Read more here.
- Bellagio just installed the Spring display in the conservatory and botanical gardens. Read about it and see more pictures here.
Photo Credit: Bellagio – MGM Resorts International
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