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Top-10 Las Vegas sportsbooks

1 September 2008

Let's face it: If you place multiple TVs, (sometimes complimentary) cocktails and a menu that includes burgers and pizza all under one roof, you are going to grab my attention. Toss in the luxury of being able to legally wager on virtually any sporting event in the world and, well, you had me at "Hello."

While all sports books share the same basic attributes, each has a different look, a different feel and a unique charm. They are like snowflakes in that not any two are the same. With football season finally upon us, we decided to go out and visit virtually every sports book in Las Vegas and come up with a list of our Top 10.

Keep in mind that, as far as we're concerned, there is no such thing as a "bad sportsbook." But in the end, these were the 10 venues that we would most like to spend a day watching (and betting) football during the next five months.

10. Monte Carlo
This is the first of five MGM Mirage properties to make our list. Nothing fancy here, but the room is spacious and comfortable. There are 18 televisions, including a 12-foot-by-12-foot screen that serves as the centerpiece and there is always plenty of seating available. Decent food with reasonable prices is just a few short steps away in the food court and free drinks in the race and sports book can help you absorb any losses you may suffer.

9. Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
If you frequent sports bars back home, you'll feel right at home at Sports Deluxe, the Hard Rock sports book. This is, by far, the smallest venue on our list. But even with just 60 seats and a lack of jumbo TVs, the Hard Rock's festive atmosphere and impressive collection of sports memorabilia hanging from the walls make it worth a visit, even though it sits off the main strip by a few blocks. The best place to sit is in one of the six swanky leather booths that have betting terminals built into the tables.

8. Palms Casino Resort
Despite the fact that there are no NBA lines here because the owners (the Maloof brothers) are also owners of the Sacramento Kings, the Palms always offers a great variety of bets in virtually every other sport. The race book is workmanlike with 140 stations set up, each with their own TV and betting terminal. The menu selection is great (Club Palms members can score free drinks and food) and, hey, any hotel that has the world's only Playboy Club within a short elevator ride away has to make our Top 10 list.

7. Las Vegas Hilton
While the Hard Rock is one of the smallest books in Vegas, this is one of the biggest. The Hilton's SuperBook is 30,000 square feet and can seat as many as 300 patrons at once. And those that visit don't have to strain to see a monitor with 60 TVs overall, including 11 big screens and a gigantic 16-foot-by-20-foot screen that sits in a prominent spot. The hotel also claims to offer some of the best odds in Vegas and features the "largest sports ticker" in Nevada with a 75-foot information line stretches across the room. There is also a wide range of food selections, most notably the popular Eight Pole Bar, and complimentary cocktails are served in both the race and sports book.

6. Mirage
Not much to complain about here. Mirage sports book is roomy (10,000 square feet), it has comfort (leatherback chairs) and good selection of TVs (11 in total, including the mammoth 16-foot-by-20-foot). Mirage is also known for its expansive betting choices and high limits. And it's a haven for serious horse racing fans. The drinks are free in the race and sports book area and there's a nice selection of food nearby, including a California Pizza Kitchen.

5. MGM Grand
Simply put, you are not going to find a better place to watch a game. The MGM has a 5,300-square-foot betting arena and offers seating for 104 guests, with thirty-six 60-inch plasma televisions and eight 42-inch plasmas. In addition, there are 49 main floor seats that are outfitted with individual 15-inch TVs. Oh, and don't forget the four Skyboxes, ranging in size from 300 - 325 square feet, that are each equipped with plasma televisions, surround-sound audio and CD systems and can host a party of up to 10 people. And, yes, drinks are complimentary throughout the sports book, which is a nice bonus.

4. Wynn Las Vegas
Like everything else at the Wynn, the sportsbook is over-the-top luxurious. As soon as you walk in and see the dark wood décor and the comfy swiveling armchairs, you immediately want to plop down a bet, light up your best cigar and order a scotch. The room has 37 plasma TVs scattered all over the place and three 12-foot-by-12-foot big screens that take up most of the front wall. A bonus for horse racing handicappers is the terminals at the seats that allow you to place your wager without getting up. There is also a classic wooden bar with more TVs and within perfect view of the jumbo TVs at the front of the room. The Zoozacrackers Deli that sits next to the sports book has decent food, but is a bit overpriced. Luckily, drinks are complimentary inside the sportsbook if you place a wager. Another downside of the Wynn is that it has a reputation of not offering the bets odds on the Strip, but that's a drawback that we can handle as we nestle into this sports emporium for an afternoon. After all, there are plenty of other sportsbooks within in walking distance that may have better odds, but nothing close to the extravagance of the Wynn.

3. Mandalay Bay
The sports book here at the Mandalay isn't going to knock you over with luxury, but when you put it all together, this is a fine choice to spend an afternoon betting football. There is plenty of room with more than 300 seats to choose from, and you can be sure that you'll have a good sightline to numerous TVs no matter where you decide to settle in. That's because there are more than 75 TVs, including 17 big screens. On top of all of that, Mandalay offers a great selection of odds on nearly every sport while the Turf Club Deli has the perfect menu for a hungry sports fan.

2. Caesars Palace
Any one who has ever placed a sports bet in their life must visit the sportsbook at Caesars Palace. It's just one of those places. It caters to the NFL Sunday crowd and is well-stocked to do so thanks to six 12-foot-by-15-foot oversized screens, a 20-foot-by-50-foot LED board and a dozen 50-inch plasma screens, plus a huge board that constantly updates the lines. There are 140 sports seats and each one has a personalized 12-inch flat screen. Caesars offers some of the highest betting limits on the Strip and you certainly feel like a high-roller when you visit the sportsbook. While NFL Sundays are a staple here, you also don't want to miss a chance to watch a Kentucky Derby here. And if you're going to spend an extended period of time here, join the Connection Club. It will be well worth it.

1. Bellagio
Read through all of the "pluses" in each of the above sportsbooks. Put them all in one room and what you have is the sportsbook at Bellagio. It's luxurious and elegant, but has an atmosphere where the average sports fan still feels at home. It features excellent food and outstanding service, including a fetching staff of cocktail waitresses. Drink tokens and free drinks are available to bettors and, on top of all of that, it resides in the heart of the Strip inside one of the top hotel-resorts in the world. This is also an MGM Mirage property, meaning the 5,600 square-foot sports book offers a wide variety of odds and high-roller-type betting limits. If you disagree with this ranking, we dare you to go to the Bellagio this Sunday. Place your string of NFL bets and then settle into one of those leather, high-back, dentist-office-type chairs. Kick your feet up, order a complimentary drink (high-grade liquors are always available) and sit back and enjoy. Something tells us that you won't have a grudge much longer.

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Best of Gary Trask
Gary Trask

Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has more than 20 years experience as a writer and editor.

A member of the inaugural Poker Hall of Fame Media Committee, Gary enjoys playing poker and blackjack, but spends most of his time sitting in the comfy confines of the sportsbook when in Las Vegas.

The Boston native is also a former PR pro in the golf-casino-resort industry and a fanatical golfer, allowing his two favorite hobbies - gambling and golf - to collide quite naturally.

Contact Gary at gary@casinocity.com and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

Gary Trask Websites:

twitter.com/#!/casinocityGT
Gary Trask
Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has more than 20 years experience as a writer and editor.

A member of the inaugural Poker Hall of Fame Media Committee, Gary enjoys playing poker and blackjack, but spends most of his time sitting in the comfy confines of the sportsbook when in Las Vegas.

The Boston native is also a former PR pro in the golf-casino-resort industry and a fanatical golfer, allowing his two favorite hobbies - gambling and golf - to collide quite naturally.

Contact Gary at gary@casinocity.com and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

Gary Trask Websites:

twitter.com/#!/casinocityGT