Whether it’s hockey finals, basketball finals, the Kentucky Derby, the World Series, or the Super Bowl there’s no place like Las Vegas to enjoy watching your favorite team. This year, we can even include soccer’s once every four-year championship series the World Cup into the mix.
High End Sports Books on the Strip
If you’re coming to Las Vegas for a special sporting event or to watch your favorite team compete in the play-offs, it’s important to realize that not all sports books are created equal. Some are smoky old school, some are swanky hi-tech marvels, some get packed with exuberant fans and others are a quiet oasis tucked away from the casino’s other attractions.
The sports book at Caesar’s Palace was one of the first to go hi-tech and it became famous for attracting high stake gambler’s who wanted to be pampered in between placing their large wagers. It started with heavyweight fights and the Super Bowl. Now every play-off season in every sport comes with it’s own food, drink and special wager offers. Caesar’s is still one of the #1 places to go to rub shoulders with sports celebrities, models and other sports fans during the big games. It’s big and modern and often attracts standing room only crowds, so get there early if you want a seat.
The sports book at the Wynn is another classy, high-tech sports mecca that attracts the rich and famous as well as the serious, high stakes gambler. But its refined elegance and generally subdued clientele don’t attract, or even tolerate, the rambunctious crowds of heavy beer drinkers found at Caesar’s or many of the other sports books on the Strip. The Wynn often has some of the best odds and most generous lines available on the Strip too. Plan ahead and take advantage of some of their great room rates for a memorable and affordable stay.
The Bellagio, Mirage and Aria also compete in the high-end sports book category. All three carry the exact same, fairly generic odds, parlays and proposition bets because they’re each owned by MGM/Mirage. A surprising contender in the high-end category is the sports book at Bally’s (owned by Harrah’s). Re-modeled from their old stadium style movie theater a few years ago, it’s large and high-tech with multiple flat screen TV’s and an awesome sound system. It also includes a glassed-in VIP area. The clientele is mixed since it serves as the sports book for guests staying at Paris Las Vegas too. (After cashing in your ticket, stop by the Indigo Lounge to relish in your victory!)
Other Sports Books on (or right off) the Strip
The sports books at Harrah’s is old school, no frills affairs, popular with cigar chomping gaming pros. Relatively smaller in scale than many other resorts, they offer a glimpse into a bygone era of sports gambling in Las Vegas. If you want to avoid the crowds and the distraction of trying to watch a dozen big screens at once, but still enjoy a modest amount of amenities, check out the sports book at Monte Carlo. Since this resort generally attracts a decidedly international crowd, I expect this will be a particularly fun place to enjoy a few key World Cup games.
The Palms, Rio, Planet Hollywood and the Hard Rock are hands down the best casinos to visit if you’re more interested in special cocktails and people watching. All are hi-tech venues and generally attract a majority of twenty and thirty year old guys and gals. These places are exciting, crowded and loud! (Note: the Palms does NOT offer any bets on any NBA game because their owners own the Sacramento Kings. However, because they are independently owned, they offer some of the best lines and odds in Vegas for other sports. Looking for an extra half-point on your wager? Go to the Palms!)
For the serious sports bettor though, the best odds and largest number of proposition bets (side bets on individual player performances, coin toss results and other fun, intangible elements of any game) the sports book at the Las Vegas Hilton cannot be beat. It’s huge, it gets crowded, but there’s few other places that can match the excitement and special guest appearances at the Las Vegas Hilton.
For World Cup fans, there is probably no better place to get your soccer-hooligan on than the Hofbrauhaus on Paradise (across from the Hard Rock). This is not a casino, there is no sports book, but since it is an authentic recreation of the Hofbrauhaus in Munich, Germany it’s got an international flair, great (cheap) food and giant steins of quality beer. In 2006 the walls were adorned with every national flag of every soccer team competing in the World Cup that year. The décor consists of picnic tables and folding chairs. There’s one giant flat screen TV that features the game of the moment by direct satellite feed. You absolutely will get to know your neighbors and I know it’s going to be the same great soccer party spot in Vegas this year!
Best Off-Strip Sports Books
The sports book at the M Resort is arguably the best sports book in all of Las Vegas. Independently owned, they consistently offer some of the most generous lines and lowest “vigs” (the house hold on straight bet wagers) in Vegas. Opened in 2009, it even features the latest mobile gaming technology on the market in case you want to take a dip in the pool at half-time. All the seats are plush and comfortable, even when it turns into a double overtime game. The food available at the Vig Deli next to the sports book is fast and delicious. The only drawback to the M Resort sports book is its size. It’s small and there’s not even much standing room. If you’re betting $500 or more you can get into the VIP area, but even it isn’t very big and when there’s a big game on, it fills up too. So, whether you’re planning a trip to Caesar’s Palace or M Resort to enjoy a big game, the key is to get there at least an hour early, especially if you’re with three or four people.
Other good off-Strip sports books are at the Red Rocks Resort on the western edge of the city and the Green Valley Resort on the southeastern edge of the city heading towards Lake Mead. Both are large and offer both console (individual screen) and leather chair seating along with hi-tech, multiple screen viewing. They each attract an upscale, 50/50 mix of tourists and locals, even on the week-ends. The only downside is that both properties are owned by Station Casinos and pretty much offer the same tight lines and higher “vigs” generally carried by MGM/Mirage and Harrah’s properties on the Strip. You won’t get a “local’s insider line” at Red Rocks or Green Valley but you will get a level of service and quality consistent with the higher end Strip properties, except without the crowds.
Some other off-Strip casinos with appealing sports books are Sunset Station, Fiesta Henderson and the Orleans. Not flashy, not extravagant, lots of big screens, lots of seating, lots of friendly locals.
So the next time you want to watch your team compete, if you can’t be there in person, consider catching them in an exciting Vegas sports book that matches your style!