Despite the fact there are no major teams here, Las Vegas is a big sports town. And I’m not talking about our triple-A Blue Jays farm team The 51s, or our Sin City Rollergirls, though we love ‘em both. I mean world-class stuff, like our UNLV teams, PGA/LPGA golf tournaments, NASCAR and NHRA meets, National Rodeo and Pro Bull Riders finals, and of course XFC and boxing. I’m sure I left something out.
For everything else, our sportsbooks have them covered. There’s no better place in the world to bet on everything from horses to college hoops, though now that it’s football season, the NFL contests are the big draw.
Nearly every casino has one — but which are the best? Depends what you’re looking for. Serious bettors tend to flock to the cavernous Las Vegas Hilton Superbook, with over 20 giant screens — and one massive 15×20 screen — 300 seats (racebook desks with private screens as well as sportsbook loungers), a lengthy list of wagers and contests, and both an inexpensive deli and buffet are located adjacent. Bally’s has another well-established Book, with 10 huge screens, a big bar and plenty of seating options. Caesars Palace also has a big following, with the advantage of being set smack in the middle of the casino floor.
When it comes to comfort, though, the Bellagio is hard to beat — elegant and luxurious throughout, its sportsbook area (right next to the poker room) resembles a hip club, and the racebook desks have ergonomic stuffed chairs. Then there’s the Palazzo Sports Book Lounge (formerly the 40/40 Club), with white leather couches on bleacher-style terraces facing a theater-size plasma screen. With ultralounge style service and private gaming tables, this brings game watching to a decadent level. Alternatively, MGM Grand‘s Book features VIP Skyboxes. And the Mirage beats most for both size and comfort — 10,000 square feet with a huge bar and food from California Pizza Kitchen, Carnegie Deli and BLT Burger steps away.
Other properties with notable sports books include Mandalay Bay, Wynn, Rio … downtown, Golden Nugget‘s Book is smaller but stylish … South Point‘s spacious and serviceable Book is open 24 hours. Stations Casinos (including Red Rock and Green Valley Ranch) have launched Sports Connection, which allows betting through your phone or computer (within Nevada) to their Book. Several properties also offer separate Sunday afternoon or Monday night viewing parties with drink specials and prizes, including Sapphire Gentleman’s Club.
Want to complete your sports-themed visit? Book one of the suites at Planet Hollywood filled with different players’ memorabilia (contact the hotel for specifics) or, for a budget alternative, stay at the Vegas Club downtown (rooms are clean and spacious) with a variety of collectibles on display off the casino. Grab a bite at New York, New York‘s ESPN Zone, Blondie’s at Planet Hollywoood (cute cheerleaders) or Dan Marino’s at Hooters. And when you win that parlay? Splurge at sports memorabilia shops in Bally’s, Forum Shops at Caesars, Planet Hollywood or Rio!
Insider tip: At the Sam’s Town and Suncoast Monday night parties, the first hot dog and beer are free. And South Point’s Book offers Vienna Beef franks for only 75 cents. So even if you miss your bet, at least you won’t starve!
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E.C. Gladstone is a former editor for AOLVegas, and interviews top
Strip entertainers, restaurateurs, moguls and behind-the-scenes
players for VEGAS Magazine. Like many Las Vegans, he sleeps only when