Catch all the hoops madness
At approximately 9:10 a.m. on March 21, someone in a black-and-white striped shirt will loft an orange-and-black sphere skyward in an East Coast arena, signaling the start of a college basketball feast that will see 48 NCAA Tournament games contested over four days in eight U.S. cities. The most exciting action? As always, that will occur right here in Las Vegas, which annually welcomes tens of thousands of college hoops fans to the city’s sportsbooks, bars and restaurants. They come to eat, drink, bet, cheer, boo, bet, laugh, cry and, of course, bet.
Indeed, the first weekend of March Madness in Vegas is an experience like no other. Where should you settle in for all the edge-of-your-seat excitement? Glad you asked:
As bucket-list items go, spending at least part of March Madness in a Las Vegas sportsbook ranks somewhere between taking a European vacation and winning the lottery. The electric atmosphere is nonpareil and lasts from the day’s first shot attempt to the final whistle. The biggest, most boisterous crowds can be found in classic sportsbooks such as Caesars Palace, Paris Las Vegas, The Mirage, MGM Grand, The Venetian and the Westgate SuperBook.
For a new, modern twist on the sportsbook experience, consider The Book inside The Linq. The recently opened venue boasts more than 50 televisions, the Strip’s highest resolution LED video wall, a pour-it-yourself Beer Wall, family room-like seating options and specially crafted food-and-beverage offerings. Another new sportsbook experience can be found at Park MGM’s Moneyline Sports Bar & Book, where fans can eat, drink, wager, watch and even play games (duckpin bowling, anyone?).
One important tip when it comes to Vegas sportsbooks during the opening weekend of March Madness: Arrive early—very early, as seats disappear faster than a game of musical chairs.
Dozens of restaurants, bars, showrooms and other venues throughout Vegas also embrace the madness that is March with game-day viewing parties. Among the bevy of options:
Smoked Burgers & BBQ at The Forum Shops at Caesars; Beer Park at Paris Las Vegas; AmeriCAN Beer & Cocktails on the Linq Promenade; PBR Rock Bar & Grill at Miracle Mile Shops in Planet Hollywood Resort; The D Las Vegas (the downtown hotel-casino that hosts a weekend-long Public Basketball Bash on the 12th floor); Hoops Central in the International Theater at Westgate Las Vegas; Rockhouse in The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian/Palazzo; Paradise Lounge and Umami Burger, Beer Garden & Sports Book at SLS Las Vegas; TAP Sports Bar in MGM Grand; The Still in The Mirage; and Beerhaus at The Park adjacent to New York-New York.
Note that many of these (and other) establishments require advance ticket purchases and/or food-and-beverage minimums throughout the four-day weekend. But given that they all mimic the sportsbook experience—with energetic crowds glued to the wall-to-wall TVs showing all the games—the cost is more than justified. Of course, all it takes is a buzzer-beating shot to go your way, and that cost very well could be covered!