Twenty years from now, historians will surely remember 2019 as the year sports betting went mainstream.
Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in May of 2018, which struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 as unconstitutional, the longstanding federal ban on sportsbooks outside of Nevada came to an end. Since then, 12 states have joined Nevada in offering legal and regulated single-game sports betting, both via brick and mortar bet shops and online / mobile apps.
And with the wave of sports betting bills being passed by state legislatures from Arkansas to West Virginia, the industry has quickly become legitimized by society as large. All four of the major professional leagues – the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB – have inked sponsorship deals with leading bookmakers in the months since PASPA fell.
With that said, the Silver State is still home to America’s original sports betting industry, and thus Nevada sets the template from which all other states model their respective setups. And with over 40 million visitors flocking to Las Vegas every year, the vast majority of Americans who place a wager in the years to come will still do so in Sin City.
That’s a great thing too…
Whereas states which have only recently legalized sports betting are still building the business from the ground up, Las Vegas sportsbooks have 70 years of experience in the field. That means bettors who venture to Las Vegas will always find the best odds, highest limits, and the most variety in terms of wagering options.
Speaking of wagering options, you can compare the emerging rivalry between Nevada and New Jersey to get a better sense of what those decades of experience really mean.
While bettors in the Garden State have a handful land-based sportsbooks in Atlantic City’s casinos, along with a few racetracks and the online / mobile app options, Las Vegas is home to hundreds of retail betting outlets. These range from small one-window bet shops to the Westgate SuperBook, which bills itself as the world’s largest sportsbook facility.
Befitting that level of variety, betting on sports in Las Vegas offers several different avenues that simply can’t be found anywhere else. On that note, I’ve put together the following list to show off four of the coolest ways to wager on sports in Sin City that most sports betting enthusiasts don’t know about.
1 – Enter a Sports Handicapping Competition Like the NFL SuperContest
One of the most entertaining, and potentially lucrative to the point of life-changing, ways to bet on sports is Las Vegas involves the city’s wide array of handicapping contests.
The most prominent of these competitions is the Westgate SuperContest, an annual event which has been held since the 1980s. While the price is admittedly a bit steep at $1,500, SuperContest players become eligible for a top prize payout that regularly tops the seven-figure plateau.
To wit, last year’s edition drew 3,123 contestants to generate a total prize pool of $4,309,740, with eventual champion Eric Kahane going 59-25-1 over the course of the NFL season to claim the lion’s share with a $1,422,214 first-place prize. This year saw the field size grow to 3,328 entries for a total prize pool of $4,592,640, and the eventual champion will pocket $1,469,644.
The Westgate SuperContest isn’t like a traditional single-game sports bet. Instead, participants are challenged on their ability to pick against the point spread throughout the entirety of the NFL’s 17-week regular season.
Each player must choose five games from the week’s schedule, using specially generated static point spread lines posted every Wednesday by the bookmakers at the Westgate Resort & Casino. From there, a correct point spread pick is worth 1 point in the contest, point spread pushes are worth 0.5 points, and an incorrect selection is worth 0 points.
By season’s end, whomever accumulates the highest point total wins the grand prize payout of over a million bucks. But this isn’t a winner take all affair by any means, as the top-100 finishers from the field will earn payouts ranging from double your buy-in to over $600,000 for a runner-up run.
The Westgate also runs a special SuperContest Gold edition which uses a $5,000 buy-in and a winner take all payout structure.
In each case, however, the thrill of testing your handicapping skills against thousands of other bettors simply can’t be replicated. It’s one thing to beat the book for a big bet by backing a sneaky underdog on a random Sunday in November, but surviving the gauntlet over 85 picks – against the spread no less – is another story altogether.
And the best part about the SuperContest is you don’t even need to live in Las Vegas to give it a go. As long as you can get yourself out here before the NFL season starts, the Westgate allows non-locals to play via proxy service.
Proxy services have enabled the recent explosion in popularity enjoyed by Sin City’s sports handicapping contests. Along with the SuperContest, you can take part in a slew of sports competitions hosted by casino sportsbooks all over Las Vegas. Everything from college football point spreads to NBA season win totals are in play, so do yourself a favor and look into a sports handicapping contest or two the next time you’re betting in Las Vegas.
2 – Use a Self-Service Betting Kiosk When You Can’t Get to the Sportsbook
Everybody enjoys the full-on sensory experience of visiting a major casino sportsbook.
Theatre style seating, wall to wall video screens showing every game on the schedule, and crowds of crazed fans living and dying with every play – what’s not to love, right? For serious sports bettors, taking in a Sunday smorgasbord of NFL action isn’t complete without the sights and sounds unique to their favorite sportsbook.
With that said, chances are good that you’ll find yourself unable to visit the book at some point down the line. Maybe your family is having too much fun strolling on The Strip, or you’re stuck in some Off-Strip gambling hall that lacks a full-fledged sportsbook. In any event, lack of access to a ticket taker manning a betting window doesn’t mean you have to sit the next big game out.
Instead, just search for the nearest self-service betting kiosk and you’ll have a ticket in hand in no time flat. William Hill U.S. – the American arm of venerable London-based bookmaker and Las Vegas’ leading sportsbook operator – runs hundreds of self-service betting kiosks throughout Nevada.
In terms of the greater Las Vegas metropolitan area, check out the list below to find casinos where William Hill U.S. self-service betting kiosks can be found:
- Binion’s Gambling Hall & Hotel
- Casino Royale
- Downtown Grand Casino
- Ellis Island Casino
- Four Queens
- Hooters Casino
- Max Casino at the Westin
- Plaza Hotel & Casino
- Silver Sevens Hotel & Casino
- SLS Hotel and Casino
- The D
- Golden Gate Hotel & Casino
- Alamo Casino
North Las Vegas
- Lucky Club
- Siegel Slots
- Silver Nugget
- Hoover Dam Lodge
- Casino Valle Verde
- Club Fortune Casino
- Emerald Island Casino
- Longhorn Casino
- Railroad Pass Hotel & Casino
- Skyline Casino
Most of the major bookmakers in Las Vegas offer self-service betting kiosks alongside their traditional in-person windows.
These machines work just like any ATM or bill-breaker you’re already accustomed to using at the casino. Just slide your cash in, use the touch screen to navigate the wagering options, and select your bets to print out a ticket. From there, winning tickets can be redeemed at the sportsbook or casino cashier’s cage as per usual.
3 – Download a Sportsbook App to Use on Your Online / Mobile Device
Another way Las Vegas sportsbooks have sought to make things easier for bettors is by launching online / mobile apps. Accessible from any internet-capable smartphone, tablet, or mobile device, online sportsbooks are a convenient way to stay connected with the sports betting scene 24/7.
When sudden injury news breaks about your game’s star player to cause unexpected line movement, wading through traffic to reach the nearest book can put serious bettors at a disadvantage. But with a sportsbook app downloaded to their device, the same bettors can pounce on stale lines without ever getting out of bed.
You can learn more about how the best online / mobile sports betting apps in Las Vegas really work by visiting the Play MGM page.
4 – Place a Live “In-Game” Wager While the Action is Already Unfolding
One of the best reasons to use an online / mobile sportsbook app while visiting Las Vegas is to take full advantage of in game betting.
Also known as “live betting,” an in-game wager is exactly what it sounds like – a bet you place in real-time as the game is already underway. Let’s say you’re watching Monday Night Football and the heavily favored New England Patriots find themselves in an early 7-0 hole. The pregame point spread was New England (-14) over the Miami Dolphins, but given the current deficit, that number drops to (-9).
With in-game betting in play, you can pounce on the new spread at anytime simply by clicking a couple of buttons. The beauty of in-game betting is that it turns the basic three wagers offered by pregame wagering (point spread / moneyline / Over-Under) into hundreds of possibilities as the game unfolds.
You’ll find everything from adjusted point spreads and moneylines, Under-Over totals that fluctuate in line with the current score, and player “prop” bets based on individual statistical performance.
In-game betting is made possible by data analysts like Craig Mucklow, an expert on mathematics and probability as they relate to sports betting. In his position as vice president of trading for Don Best Sports, a Las Vegas-based firm which feeds sportsbooks with in-game betting odds, Mucklow supervises a team of oddsmakers responsible for setting new lines on the fly.
And as Mucklow told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in a profile on the rising popularity of in-game betting, this new frontier offers sharp bettors plenty of opportunity to identify and capitalize on small edges:
“We know the impact of pitching changes, the impact of an empty net, the impact of heat and humidity on the second half totals of football games.
All these kinds of pieces of data impact the line. We’re always looking for analytics, and some of the best bettors are, too.
There’s always someone smarter than you out there that picks up trends faster and does the data better. It’s a cat and mouse game all the time.”
As the sports betting industry continues to establish itself nationwide, a new generation of bettors has embraced this entertaining and challenging enhancement to enjoying athletics. Accordingly, Las Vegas is due for an influx of newly minted sportsbook fans who are new to the city’s unique betting scene. Hopefully this guide provides a roadmap for rookies to learn the ropes, because Las Vegas sportsbooks really have much more to offer than meets the eye.