How to bet March Madness in Vegas? You might want the app.
The first thing we learned upon arrival is that we didn’t arrive early enough. We got down to the casino at our hotel, the Luxor, at 7am on Thursday, two hours before the first game tipped, and already the relatively small sports book was packed with sports fans too excited to be hungover -- or maybe still tipsy. The line to place bets at the counter snaked out of the betting parlor and into a nearby bank of slot machines. (Most casinos also offer a VIP area within or near the sports book with all-you-can-eat-and-drink for a cover fee, if you reserve ahead of time.)
We walked next door to Mandalay Bay, where the much larger sports book was also nearly full. Which is why we eventually land in the lounge, but we were still connected to the scene. You can’t go 2 feet in the casino without seeing a TV and hearing an elated and/or agonized fan. Here at least the line to the counter was much shorter.
When you finally get to the tellers, you have two options: Place your individual bets, or open an account on that casino’s online betting app. It lets you carry a balance, monitor odds as they shift, place bets throughout the day from anywhere in Nevada, and deposit and collect at any book run by that company. (For instance, the playMGM app is good at all MGM Resorts, like Bellagio, Aria, the Mirage, and Luxor).
“Why waste your time in line?” says Mike Marquez, 35, who has made the March trip from El Paso, Texas, for the past several years.
“Because you don’t get that personal experience,” says Marquez’s friend, Mike Derubin, 41. “And you won’t get the drink tickets when you tip your teller. If you tip your teller, they’ll take care of you.”
I chose the app and skipped the lines. I also liked the instant balance sheet and the cap on losses -- my deposit, or in this case, $200. “You have to have a plan,” says Noah Hubbs, a Tennessee Volunteers fan who’s flown out from Charlotte each of the past five years. The plan should not only include how much you bet, how you bet. “It’s usually more fun to bet the contrarian, against the odds, because that’s where the action is.”