IN LAS VEGAS, ALMOST ANYTHING GOES and that includes betting on professional sports. In fact, it's the only place in the country where wagers can be legally placed on such major sporting events as the Super Bowl, college basketball's March Madness and the World Series.
Most casinos have a sports book—a room or section where people can place their wagers and watch the games that are being bet on. An afternoon at a sports book doesn't have to cost much, and it can be fun, easy and entertaining.
"It's the best bang for your buck you can get in Las Vegas," said Robert Walker, race and sports book director with MGM Mirage, equating the cost of a bet with the price of a movie ticket. "It's a great escape from the rest of the casino. You can get away and watch your favorite team play." Nobody is obligated to do any betting: Walker says all his company's sports books are open to everyone.
Chuck Esposito, assistant vice president, race and sports book operations, at Caesars Palace, adds: "There is no place better to be than the sports book on a Saturday or Sunday. Every seat is like being on the 50-yard line as you watch the game on a movie-sized screen. It's an experience you can't get anywhere else."
Be sure to tell your clients to get a space early. Our experts tell us that for big games like the Super Bowl people start grabbing seats early in the day. Esposito notes that people have been known to even camp out overnight in the sports book to hold on to the best seats. They're able to do so because food and drink delivery to the seats is typically available.
Sports books are generally divided into several distinct areas: a section with group seating, a cluster of tables where people can hang out and eat and drink, and rows of desks designed for horse race handicappers to watch events they choose on a small personal monitor.
Originally opened in the center of the casino in 1985, this was the city's first modern sports book. Esposito says it's also home to the first-ever proposition bets—which are special bets on things besides the outcome of a game, like whether a specific player will score a touchdown or how many points will be scored in the first half of a game.
The Caesars Palace Race & Sports Book is massive. There's comfortable seating for 150 people to watch six screens measuring a total of 123 by 15 feet, as well as 16 fifty-inch plasma screens. There are also 120 monitors at seats, many with onscreen wagering information. The facility is able to air up to 30 different broadcasts simultaneously. For more information, visit www.caesarspalace.com or call 702-731-7915.
Adjacent to Studio 54, MGM Grand's Race & Sports Book is an elegantly curved room featuring 36 sixty-inch plasma TVs, eight 42-inch plasmas, six electronic display boards and 17 betting counters. The room can hold more than 100 people, but it might get tight on game day, so be sure to encourage your clients to arrive early.
For an unforgettable afternoon or evening, suggest that your clients ask for one of the four Skyboxes. Ranging in size from 300 to 325 square feet, they hover over the floor, each equipped with the latest technology available, including plasma TVs, surround-sound audio and CD systems. Each can comfortably fit eight to ten guests.
Finely appointed, the upscale sports book at Bellagio features a bar with 32 flat-screens. Leather-clad seats abound in this low-key environment. Racing lovers will be happy the Bellagio shows races from 25 different tracks. There is a total of 150 screens, including 99 individual racing monitors and one large racing screen.
Foodies will appreciate that they can get a meal delivered to them from any of the resort's dining venues. That means feasting on treats such as pizzas from Todd English's Olives, tuna tartare from Michael Mina or Hong Kong-style barbecue from Noodles while seeing all the action. For further details, check out www.mgmgrand.com or call 702-891-7777.
The Venetian's intimate sports book surrounds guests with flat-panel TVs and personalized desktop monitors. Toward the front of the room are plush seats where individuals can watch the large screens up close. Behind that are rows of desks for racing enthusiasts to see what's happening at tracks across the country.
This sports book features seatside cocktail service from a nearby bar and the chance to do future wagering. That means a visitor can place a bet during their stay in Vegas that their favorite team will win the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA championship or Stanley Cup and play along all season. For more information, visit www.venetian.com or call 702-414-1000.
Wynn Las Vegas
The luxurious Sports Book at Wynn offers satellite broadcasts from around the world on 100 individual TVs and a trio of massive 15-by-15-foot LCDs. There are also a variety of other giant TVs and a VIP area with leather recliners, smoking and non-smoking sections and individual terminals for at-your-seat wagering. Guests may earn comps based on betting activity. A New York-style deli named Zoozacrackers is adjacent to the sports book. Find more information at www.wynnlasvegas.com or call 702-770-7000.
With some of the highest betting limits in all of Nevada, this is the spot for both established players and amateurs. Built to accommodate mostly individual desktops—there are 150 of them—this 10,000-square-foot facility has several big screens as its focal point.
Races are broadcast from major tracks around the country, including those on the East Coast. See www.mirage.com or call 702-791-7111.
The recently opened Playing Field Race and Sports Book at Planet Hollywood is set up almost like a cross between a movie theater and an upscale pub. Oversized lounge chairs face two gigantic screens that broadcast the top events. Tuesday through Saturday, the sports book morphs into a performance venue late at night. For more information, visit www.aladdincasino.com.
This off-the-Strip resort boasts one of the most advanced sports books to date. It's also one of the largest, fitting more than 300 people at a time.
In all, the place has 203 TVs, including two gigantic 10-foot screens and others ranging from 65 inches to 103 inches. There are also 10 Interactive Player Terminals, which feature touch-screen betting right at the seats, as well as a VIP seating area. For more information, go to www.samstownlv.com or call 702-456-7777.