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Best Las Vegas Sportsbooks

Lagasse's Stadium Sportsbook And Restaurant At Palazzo Las Vegas

Lagasse’s Stadium

I didn’t plan on going over the best Las Vegas sportbooks because there’s no such thing as a bad sportsbook. There are varying degrees of greatness but sportsbooks are the best place in the casino as far as I’m concerned. Since I’m at sportsbooks often people ask my opinion so I figured that I should have a current list as football season is upon us.

My main criteria for the best sportsbooks are TV’s, cleanliness and service. Watching the games is the reason I’m at the sportsbook so the quality of the TV screens usually matters more than anything else. That said, I don’t smoke and don’t want leave the sportsbook smelling like an ashtray.

Let’s look at the best sportsbooks in Las Vegas.

Lagasse's Stadium at Palazzo Las Vegas

1. Lagasse’s Stadium (The Palazzo)

Lagasse’s Stadium may be the greatest place on earth. Lagasse’s Stadium is the best sportsbook in Las Vegas because it’s more than a sportsbook. Lagasse’s Stadium, located inside The Palazzo, is also a bar, restaurant, casino and lounge. The main area has stadium couch seating and is surrounded by couches above and cocktail tables above and to the side. Waitresses are plentiful so there’s never a time you should be without food or drink. This is a benefit and a curse. You almost feel compelled to eat and/or drink when you watch the games at Lagasse’s Stadium. That can get pricey. For NFL Sunday’s and major sporting events you’ll have to pay a minimum per person for food and drink (usually $50 or $100). Reservations are always recommended for these days. The only other reservation about Lagasse’s Stadium is that the main seating area TV screens are showing their age and could use updating. Regardless, Lagasse’s Stadium is the best sportsbook in Las Vegas (and the world). Photo: Vegas.com

The Venetian Las Vegas Sportsbook

2. The Venetian

The Venetian sportsbook is the best free sportsbook in Las Vegas. The Venetian sportsbook renovation is going on two years now but it still looks brand new. The lighting and TV screens at The Venetian sportsbook are by far the best and brightest of any sportsbook in Las Vegas. The Venetian sportsbook is operated by Cantor Gaming and looks similar to all of their sportsbooks in Las Vegas with red desks and big office chairs. If it wasn’t for those beautiful TV screens this sportsbook would have zero vibe but those TV screens make up for any lack of atmosphere from the decor. The desks have outlets should you need to power your phone. Between the lack of cocktail waitresses and the condescending Cantor Gaming staff don’t expect good service. The saving grace for service at the The Venetian sportsbook are the quick and polite bartenders. The poor service is masked by those gorgeous TV’s.

 

The Mirage Las Vegas Sportsbook

3. The Mirage

The Mirage returned to being one of the best sportsbooks in Las Vegas when they renovated in March 2013. The  Mirage sportsbook renovation removed about a third of the old desk seating and replaced it with big comfy chairs. As part of the renovation The Mirage also added a gigantic TV screen that spans almost the entire huge sportsbook. This screen is flexible and can fit just about every game with each game being sized to the amount of interest. The sportsbook manager decides which games shown and what size they are based on bets made so if you want to see a game make sure you place your bets here. The Vegas Parlay says you might even score a free drink ticket if you bet here. The Mirage sportsbook is one of the most legendary sportsbooks in Las Vegas and these renovations restore that luster. Photo: Vegas Chatter

Red Rock Resort Sportsbook

4. Red Rock Resort

The sportsbook at Red Rock Resort is without a doubt the best sportsbook off the Vegas Strip. The best quality of the Red Rock sportsbook is it’s size and flexibility. It’s huge and has 3 enormous projection screens which can fit anywhere from 1 to 4 games each. The seating is made up with 2/3rd’s desk, dinner chairs and individual TV’s and 1/3rd lounge chairs. Cocktail waitresses are always walking around so drinks flow quickly. Depending on your ticket writer drink tickets can be fairly easy to come by. If you don’t get one just ask. The Red Rock sportsbook is always packed for football and the energy is great. There is a bar in the back of the sportsbook that offers more chairs and great bartenders. I may be partial because it’s my local bar.

Wynn Las Vegas Sportsbook

5. Wynn

Wynn is still has one of the nicest casinos on the strip even though it’s beginning to show its age. That age is most noticeable in their sportsbook. Wynn opened in 2005 but when you’re sitting in the large sportsbook it may as well be 1995. The sportsbook is comfortable and has ample seating and TV’s for any football Sunday but everything from the TV’s to the seating could use a little updating. While there are many TV’s they aren’t the massive screens available at the other sportsbooks on this list. The Wynn sportsbook is one of the few remaining independently operated sportsbooks and you’ll always get fair lines here. You may also get a drink ticket or two. The Wynn/Encore combination is a great casino complex and the Wynn sportsbook is still a fine place to watch the games. Photo: Flickr

Cover Photo: CBS Local

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Let’s Relegate Vegas Casinos Like The Premier League

EPL Football Logos

EPL Logos

The Premier League begins this weekend and all of the discussion about it got me to thinking how we can implement a similar relegation and promotion system with Las Vegas hotels and casino.

In brief, if a team performs poorly in the Premier League they’re relegated to a lesser league and if they perform better in the lesser league they step up to play with the big boys in the Premier League. If you’re really curious about specifics of the Premier League system this Yahoo Answer should do the trick.

The Las Vegas casinos aren’t all in competition with each other (Wynn and Circus Circus don’t compete for the same customer) so it makes relegation a little difficult. It may make sense to relegate by class. So perhaps there’s a Las Vegas luxury hotel league with an upper and lower tier as well as a budget and middle class league. Here’s my breakdown of the leagues from strip area properties.

Luxury
Aria
Bellagio
Caesars Palace
Cosmopolitan
Encore
Mandarin Oriental
The Palazzo
The Venetian
Vdara
Wynn

Middle Class
Flamingo
Hard Rock
Mandalay Bay
MGM Grand
The Mirage
Palms
Paris
Planet Hollywood
Rio
Treasure Island
Tropicana

Budget
Bally’s
Casino Royale
Circus Circus
Excalibur
Gold Coast
Harrah’s
Hooters
Luxor
LVH
Monte Carlo
New York New York
The Orleans
Palace Station
The Quad
Riviera
Silver Sevens
Stratosphere

Now to separate each league into two tiers or divisions. I’m breaking the divisions down by the hotel/casinos I think are better and worse. Division A features the newer cleaner hotels that have a casino while Division B features older, dirtier or hotels without a casino.

Luxury

Division A
Aria
Cosmopolitan
Encore
The Palazzo
Wynn

Division B
Bellagio
Caesars Palace
Mandarin Oriental
The Venetian
Vdara

Middle Class

Division A
Mandalay Bay
MGM Grand
The Mirage
Palms
Planet Hollywood

Division B
Flamingo
Hard Rock
Paris
Rio
Treasure Island
Tropicana

Budget

Division A
Bally’s
Gold Coast
Harrah’s
Luxor
Monte Carlo
New York New York
Silver Sevens
Stratosphere

Division B
Casino Royale
Circus Circus
Excalibur
Hooters
LVH
The Orleans
Palace Station
The Quad
Riviera

So, why are we doing this incentive and relegation for hotels and casinos?

There has to be an incentive to move up from Division B to Division A. I propose that casinos in the lower tier are penalized with the potential to make less money.

Division A hotels can charge any resort fee that they want and have any gaming rules they want. There is one caveat with this structure. Division A properties would have to disclose all additional fees upfront. None of this hidden fee crap. It’s my league. 🙂

This would mean that only half the casinos on the Vegas strip would have resort fees and half would be allowed to have 6:5 blackjack. Not every Division A hotel would implement a resort fee or bad gaming rules because that may cause them to lose customers and get relegated to a Division B.

I’d somehow like to reward good housekeeping and customer service but I’m not so sure how to quantify them. There’s still some work to do here but I think we’re off to a good start for the Premier League season. Tweet or leave a comment with any ideas to make the Las Vegas Premier League more awesome.

Photo: GoolFM 

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Word Of Advice To Slot Players

Hot Hot Penny Slot Machine

Hot Hot Penny!

One of my go-to references for gaming odds and strategy is Wizard of Odds. I often reference their strategy guides when I’m unsure of the specific math behind game strategy. While looking for some information on slot machines over the weekend I found something that I needed to share.

Most players play penny video slots. Based on past research, I find the house edge on those to usually be set from 6% to 15%. In general, the nicer the casino, the tighter the slots.

I’ve noticed this over the years on both ends of the spectrum. Even though casinos have to meet specific return minimums from slot machines within legal parameters of their respective gaming commissions but I’ve noticed that all hotels cater their slot machines to their customer.

As the quote states I’ve also noticed that the nicer the casino the tighter their lower denomination slot machines tend to be. At the same time the higher denomination slot machines in those high-end casinos tend to be a little looser. The same can be said for some of the lower end casinos who cater to penny slot players. Their penny slot machines will likely return a couple more percentage points.

Casino companies are just marketing to their customer. Wynn, Encore and The Venetian want a higher end customer than Circus Circus, Luxor and Excalibur and their gaming reflects that.

This is just low roller and high roller hotels catering to their customer. There’s nothing shady going on but it is something to be aware of when choosing where you gamble. 

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Bally’s Flea Market Coming Soon

Bally's Las Vegas Grand Bazaar Shops

Bally’s Grand Bazaar Shops

Vegas Chatter has been sharing news about Bally’s Grand Bazaar Shops for a while but the info wasn’t anywhere else. They had renderings and everything, so surely this was legit. Right? Right.

Well, last week www.grandbazaarshops.com went live with less information than Vegas Chatter had been reporting. At least they have nicer renderings then this.

Ballys Grand Bazaar Shops Night

Bally’s Grand Bazaar Shops is going to be 175 glorified flea market booths set up in front of Bally’s. I envision this to be like a less forced Harrah’s Carnival Court since you can walk past it if you don’t want to deal with the people shopping.

Caesars Entertainment has decided that low brow temporary shopping is the right way to monetize the space between the Bally’s casino/hotel and the street. Some companies may have looked into a long-term infrastructure expansion of the building but that’s probably not possible when you’re saddled with huge amounts of debt.

The Grand Bazaar Shops may not be the best way to expand Bally’s to the street but it should work for the typical Vegas tourist and typical Caesars customer who is your average American consumer. They’re not looking for anything too fancy. In Vegas they buy  the cheapest booze they can find (usually in the ugliest containers they can find) and playing the cheapest games in the casino.

The average Caesars customers are not the same people staying at Wynn or The Venetian or Cosmopolitan. Instead of elevating Bally’s by making a beautiful property, Caesars has decided to meet their customers at their spending level. A flea market may not be the worst idea – for Caesars and Bally’s. It’s a different story for me.

Bally’s has been my go-to for cheap gaming in that area of the Vegas strip. When friends walk into the Cosmo on a Saturday night they see $25 blackjack minimums and say they want to go somewhere with lower minimums. Planet Hollywood and Paris are usually too crowded for a few people to get in on a game but Bally’s usually has room. They don’t care that they’re playing 6:5 blackjack, they just want to drink and gamble.

Two weeks ago I loved the idea that Bally’s would be renovating the South Tower into the Jubilee Tower. I’m less excited about Bally’s today. The renovations should be cool but non-gaming entities invite families. I’m not sure I see myself wading through the families buying cheap Vegas swag just to get to my hotel room or to play $10 6:5 blackjack. I’d rather deal walking through their broken people mover than mass of humans.

This week I wrote about the average Vegas tourist and the gambler for Against The Number. I’m the latter. Even as a tourist I was never a tourist. That’s just not my thing. I’m also not a shopper. I have amazon if I want to shop. Non-gaming attractions bring families and tourists alike. I don’t need to deal with their derpy derping on my way into the casino.

My Vegas Strip Mall is full of casinos, not shopping. Downtown Vegas may be crowded but it’s seems like there’s not a day that goes by where it doesn’t seem more and more like my kind of strip mall.

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Las Vegas Housing Market Back On Upswing

Summerlin Las Vegas Road

Road To Nowhere

I generally keep this blog to casinos, gaming and travel between Atlantic City and Las Vegas but every now and again I’ll sprinkle in a taste of life I find exploring Vegas. I typically end up in casinos or other toursity spots so this works well. A few weeks ago I was driving around the suburbs drinking coffee on a beautiful Sunday morning when I noticed that formerly barren corners of Las Vegas were beginning to get some action. I thought this was a sign that something was happening but wasn’t sure what to make of it. Yesterday we got this news:

U.S. home prices spiked 10.9 percent in March compared to the same period a year ago, with all 20 cities measured in the most recent Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller housing report posting positive year-over-year growth for the third month in a row.

Phoenix has the largest annual increase in annual prices at 22.5 percent, followed by San Francisco with 22.2 percent and Las Vegas with 20.6 percent. Boston annual prices rose 6.7 percent, according to the report.

The increase in housing sales explains the activity I’ve witnessed in my corner of Vegas. The drive on this Sunday morning took me to the edge of civilization and the Red Rock mountains. I imagine that this land, like much of the other land around it, was probably desert just a few years ago before the last Vegas building boom. The road to nowhere on this day shows where the building ended (left side of the street) and where building has ramped up again (right side).

Long Road To Nowhere Las Vegas

Las Vegas is still new to me since most of my travels end up in casinos and I often end up taking roads to nowhere when I want to clear my head. These are roads where the Las Vegas boom just stops. Roads are unfinished and there partially started construction sites. It’s kind of sad but also kind of cool to look at because it’s something I’ve never seen before.

End Of The Road Las Vegas

The road to nowhere above used to just end. There were no machines moving and nothing happening. This Sunday morning they were resting like normal people…err machines but have been working during normal work hours. Looping back you can see that houses are being worked on right now.

Nowhere House Las Vegas

The construction out in the Vegas burbs has resumed and that’s a good sign of the Las Vegas economy. The Vegas strip has also begun preparing for an improved economy with construction resuming last year with The Linq and this year with MGM and SLS Vegas construction.

The next boom in Vegas won’t be as extravagant as when CityCenter, Cosmopolitan, Wynn and Encore where built but new activity on the strip and in the burbs can only mean good things in the near future for both Vegas and Las Vegas.

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Best Luxury Hotel Bargain In Vegas

The Venetian Las Vegas

The Venetian

Hotel rooms at The Venetian and The Palazzo offer the best prices among luxury hotels in Las Vegas according to the most recent Average Daily Room (ADR) information.

The property’s (Cosmopolitan) average daily room rate of $273 topped other high-end properties. For example, Wynn Las Vegas and Encore reported ADR of $258, while The Venetian and the Palazzo reported a combined ADR of $211.

Hotel room prices in Vegas are very flexible because they fluctuate between prices being advertised to the public and what’s offered to existing customers through players clubs. So you’ll see a wide range of prices for any hotel room in Vegas.

The order of these hotels makes sense if you look at their popularity by younger customers who are a little less discerning when it comes to price. If you’re dropping $1,000 for a bottle of Grey Goose at XS or Marquee why not spend the extra money to crash at those hotels too.

This is good news to me because The Palazzo is one of my favorite places to stay in Vegas for a lot of reasons.

  1. Suites – I love that all the rooms are suites. When I’m on vacation I love the extra room. I feel like I can actually sit in the room and relax as opposed to most hotel rooms which are about half the size. Also, 3 TV’s.
  2. Lagasse’s Stadium – Easily the best sportsbook in the world.
  3. Dining – The options for fine or casual dining are great and between The Venetian and The Palazzo there are almost 10 coffee places.
  4. Casino – The Palazzo isn’t the most popular casino so it’s usually not very crowded. Much like my hotel room, I like having space in the casino.
  5. Atmosphere – While The Venetian is overrun with families The Palazzo isn’t as crowded and there’s enough space where you never feel cramped. It’s one of the most relaxing hotel casino combinations.
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Lunching Outside At Bagatelle Beach

Bagatelle Beach Club At Tropicana Las Vegas

Bagatelle Beach Club

Eating and drinking outside? I’m in!

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to have lunch at the new Bagatelle Beach at Tropicana. This was the soft opening and a great way to kick off Cinco De Mayo weekend before losing every bet I made on the Kentucky Derby. Since this was the soft opening I was among the first guests.

Comparing Bagatelle Beach to Encore Beach Club is only fair in that they’re the same concept but there’s nothing at Tropicana that’s done on the same level as Wynn so it’s really not a fair comparison. Besides I was at Bagatelle Beach for lunch outside and not to scope out bikini babes. Note: Every person serving lunch was a dude, the bikini waitresses seem like they are only for pool customers.

Bagatelle Beach is set up with separate areas for people who want to party at the pool and people who just want to grab lunch. There dining tables set up in a shaded are that are fairly secluded and above the action of the beach club. There are also a few booths closer to the pools with coverings providing shade as you can see below.

Lunch area - Bagatelle Beach Tropicana Las Vegas

Le Diablo - Bagatelle Beach Tropicana Las Vegas

Lunch began with a cocktail called Le Diablo. I don’t normally drink tequila but I usually enjoy a drink with fresh berries and ginger beer so I figured I’d give it a whirl. Since I was so early the fresh blueberries hadn’t arrived so they used strawberry instead. Both drinks were tasty but the original concept of the drink was much better. I always recommend sticking with blueberries when they’re part of the recipe. Additionally, ginger beer is probably my favorite mixer for cocktails.

Lunch - Bagatelle Beach Tropicana Las Vegas

For lunch I had a chicken and turkey club on a croissant. The sandwich was good but nothing particularly special.  At $12 (maybe $14) this was priced similarly to most restaurant sandwiches on the strip. Combined with the al fresco dining and drinks this made for a fine base of food for the day. I wouldn’t be upset eating this sandwich again but I wouldn’t go out of my way for it.

Iced Coffee - Bagatelle Beach Tropicana Las Vegas

Since I had to drive after lunch I took it easy on the tasty boozy drinks and imbibed a few cups of iced coffee. I don’t look at a day/beach club as the kind of place that many people are ordering iced coffee so I was pleasantly surprised they had it available. While not the highlight of the day it was a nice way to close it.

Booth View - Bagatelle Beach Tropicana Las Vegas

I saw some friends dining out in the booths as I was winding down my lunch so I grabbed this sweet view of the entire Bagatelle Beach complex which comes complete with Hooters in the background.

Bagatelle Beach isn’t for everyone. The music is very loud since this is a day club and the DJ mix is today’s EDM (Deadmau5Calvin Harris) and hip hop (Lil WayneDoctor Dre). I enjoyed the music and thought it added to the vibe but it’s not for everyone.

I only visit the Tropicana a couple of times a year or so and this may be one of the few times I visit during 2013. The Tropicana isn’t a hotel many people I know visit so there’s rarely an excuse to stop by. Actually, most people I know don’t even stay on the south end of the strip unless they have a conference at Mandalay Bay.

I would return to Bagatelle Beach if someone else wanted to go there for lunch but probably wouldn’t go out of my way to return. I’ve already recommend Bagatelle Beach to a couple of people as a place to dine outdoors on that end of the Vegas strip.

Lunch was paid for by Bagatelle Beach but my thoughts and pictures are my own.

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More On Why The Vegas Strip Is Changing

I love the Vegas strip. There’s no place in the world like it. There never has been and there never will be. It’s awesome. That said, the strip has been changing a lot from when I first started visiting Las Vegas for bettor better and worse. Right now the center of the Vegas strip is where you’ll find plenty of construction for The Linq, The Quad and Bill’s but in the next few years the construction will be moving to the north end of the strip with Resorts World and SLS Hotel.

The Vegas strip change isn’t anything new. CityCenter, Cosmopolitan and even Wynn ushered in change over the past decade because their customers are changing. People don’t come to Las Vegas just to gamble like they used to. They come for the night clubs, fine dining and shows. In fact, people have been coming to Las Vegas for those things more often almost every year since 1990 and in 1999 when people began spending more money on things beyond the casino.

 

Gaming Vs Non Gaming Revenue

Revenue is the total amount of money spent and not profit. This chart only shows gaming and non-gaming revenue so let’s look at an approximation on gross profit. The house edge (ie. gross profit) on some of the worst bets in the casino is only 30% with the lowest house advantages being under 1%. Meanwhile, the markup on a bottle of wine in a 4 star restaurant can be 200% or more. Even a soda at a low end restaurant will be marked up over 1,000%. The markup on a bottle of vodka at a nightclub dwarves all both of those.

In todays, corporate run, Las Vegas every square inch of a casino has to show a profit. This information has to be reported every quarter and in order to show shareholders that the future looks bright they have to always show a profit. Sure the casino may lure you in but the real money is made on those awesome SW steak dinners or at a table in Marquee.

Even if the Cosmo only gets a percentage of the revenue from Marquee there is a nice chunk of money to be made their from small stake plus rent plus overflow spending at restaurants and bars.

Gambling hasn’t left Las Vegas. Far from it. While the chart above shows that 35% of the revenue earned on the Vegas strip is from gaming you’ll find that Downtown Vegas still earns the majority of its revenue from gaming.

Moving forward expect this trend to continue. If you’re a gambler you’ll probably find better gaming options and more people like you downtown. If you don’t mind worse gaming odds and don’t mind being around different people you will still be able to find fun on the Vegas strip.

Personally, I love the both the gaming and non-gaming Las Vegas and look forward to seeing what the future brings.

Photo: abpan.com

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Resorts World Las Vegas To Be First Themed Resort In Vegas Since The Venetian

When the news broke that Resorts World Las Vegas would be build across the street from Wynn and on the lot that was once destined to be home of Echelon, I was simply stunned that a new casino would be built in Las Vegas more than anything else. I didn’t look to see what the casino would offer.

After looking at the Resorts World renderings and the excellent breakdown of those renderings on Vegas Tripping I realized that Resorts World Las Vegas was going to be an Asian themed casino. Even girlygirl commented about the Asian theme. It’s pretty obvious when you actually look at the renderings (Note to self, look).

Since that initial moment there have been rumors of a Panda “Habitat” being part of the casino. That would fit nicely into an Asian themed casino. Seriously, who doesn’t like Panda’s?

The video below has an interview with Paul Steelman who designed Resorts World Las Vegas (skip ahead to 20:27 left in the video). I learned a few more things about Resorts World from the video.

– There will be a covered pool open all year around. The first of its kind on the strip.
– This is the first themed casino to be built on the Vegas strip since Bellagio which opened in 1998. UPDATE: The Venetian is themed and opened in 1999. Thanks for being incorrect Mr. Steelman and Mr. Ralston.
– Genting (Owner of Resorts World) owns the largest aquarium in the world.

Dr. Dave Shwarz is interviewed after Mr. Steelman in case you crave more discussion about business in Las Vegas.

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North Vegas Strip May Be Coming Back To Life

Fontainebleau Las Vegas

Fontainebleau

Yesterday it was announced that Resorts World Las Vegas would open in 2016. The renderings show a very impressive complex when construction is complete. The construction is supposed to be done in phases so don’t expect the casino to look like the renderings on opening date.

In February I mentioned that the SLS Hotel may have begun construction on the land where Sahara once lived on the Vegas strip. SLS Hotel is scheduled to open in 2014I still haven’t seen or heard a peep about construction progress and remain skeptical but they did make this snazzy sales video.

The Fontainebleau (above) remains a shell of a hotel today with no plans of opening. Since the bones of construction are completed I have to imagine that once construction is visible at both SLS Hotel and Resorts World we’ll begin to see movement on Fontainebleau.

That movement may with Fontainebleau be in the form of a sale first but the revitalization of the north Vegas Strip looks very real. The development of the north Vegas strip may be 10 years in the making but there is reason to believe that the Vegas strip will, once again, continue beyond Wynn.

Photo: Wikimedia

Copyright © 2017 Marc Meltzer & EDGe Vegas