A lot has been made about the evolution of the sports book in Las Vegas. There is definitely a corporate element to many sports books that encourages spending by customers. In order to increase revenue there are more VIP seats available than ever and more sports books requiring a minimum wagers to sit and watch the games.
One thing to remember about Las Vegas is that the most visited casinos are on the Vegas Strip and operated by major corporations. This is essentially 90% of the Vegas Strip. You’ll find that many of those sports books are squeezing out free seating for the average Joe to make room for “VIP” guests who will spend money.
The Mirage sports book is one of the best on the Vegas Strip and they still have plenty of seats for most days you’ll want to be in the sports book. However, when there are busy days like the first weekend of March Madness you’ll notice that there are more reserved seats and less free seats. That doesn’t make it a bad sports book but it makes it more difficult to find a free seat. Thankfully there are plenty of traditional sports books around in Las Vegas that don’t limit their seating.
A few weeks ago I made a comment that with the improvements happening to some of the off-Strip sports books there may not be a reason for a sports fan and bettor to visit the Vegas Strip during game time. Around that time Red Rock revealed the best screens I’ve ever seen in a sports book. They were only at 20% of their brightness and they were more clear than any screens I’ve seen in Las Vegas.
Red Rock is setup with all free seating and a small VIP area for their biggest players club members. There’s also a bar in the back with plenty more seats and tables if you want to be closer to the bar. Green Valley Ranch will be the next Station Casinos property to get these screens installed. Both properties are about 20 minutes off the Vegas Strip.
More recently, some of the much talked about renovations at the Westgate SuperBook were revealed. Even though it’s close to the Vegas Strip the Westgate (formerly LVH, Hilton) is not on the Vegas Strip. The SuperBook now has the largest TV screen (singular because it’s huge) in any sports book. The clarity and brightness is pretty close to Red Rock. When the rest of the renovations are complete they will breathe new life into one of the most famous sports books in Vegas.
Side note regarding the new screens; when football is broadcast in 4K, the Westgate will likely be the best viewing option anywhere. The screens are ready now but broadcasters are slacking.
You’ll find plenty of off-strip casinos with sports books that don’t require a minimum wager or a guaranteed spend on food or booze to sit in a sports book to watch the games. The squeeze is definitely on at sports books when you visit the Vegas Strip. Having said that, there are still plenty of free seats available from one end of the Vegas Strip to the other. Mandalay Bay, which might see a renovation next year, has plenty of seats in their sports book. On the other end of the Vegas Strip you can sit and watch the games at the Stratosphere or Wynn.
You’ll notice some shrinkage at sports books in the middle of the Vegas Strip. For example, Caesars Palace renovated their sports book to essentially create a cozy sports book environment. These renovations closed off the TV screens to much of the casino. The added bar with lounge essentially limits free seating to around 100 people where it used to be virtually limitless when the sports book was open to the entire casino to watch the games.
A smaller environment in a large casino should provide a vibe that’s busting at the seams. That doesn’t seem to be the case since at Caesars Palace since so few people can actually watch the games. I wouldn’t say they killed the sports book experience for the masses but they certainly didn’t help it. Thankfully the VIP seating at The Mirage hasn’t had the same effect. It’s still one of the best places to watch the games.
There are more options than ever to watch football in Vegas. There isn’t one perfect sports book scenario for everyone. Just about every sports book offers a different experience than the casino next door which may be different than the casino eight miles away.