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September 13, 2018

New Las Vegas Sportsbooks Are Shunning Horses

Marc Meltzer September 13, 2018
las vegas sportsbooks

While new sportsbooks are popping up around the country, the sportsbooks in Las Vegas are changing. The latest sportsbook to open on the Vegas Strip is at The Linq. This new sportsbook includes Fan Caves with waitress service and seating for up to 10 people — but not horse racing.

The Caesars Entertainment operated sportsbook doesn’t show horse racing and but will take wagers on horse racing at the casino. Not showing horse races isn’t new for Caesars Entertainment sportsbooks. Last year the national casino operator opened a new sportsbook at The Cromwell. This small sportsbook does not show or take wagers for horse racing.

Horse racing not just leaving Caesars Sportsbooks

The Moneyline sports bar and book at Park MGM opened for the first weekend of March Madness in 2018 without horse racing. The renovated sportsbook at Hooters Casino just off the Vegas Strip, run by William Hill, opened just over a year ago and doesn’t take wagers on horse racing or show it on TV. However, this sportsbook does have beer pong and billiards.

According to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, there were 20 fewer locations in Clark County (Las Vegas) to place a horse wager than a sports wager at the end of the second quarter. There are a couple of reasons for horse racing to be phased out in the most touristy part of Las Vegas.

The shift away from horse racing

Horse racing in Nevada casinos is enjoyed mostly by older customers. Casinos on the Vegas Strip often cater to a younger customer with an eye on the future customer as well. Sports betting brings guests that lean towards the younger, but legal, end of the demographic scale.

A study by the American Gaming Association and Nielsen Sports says that “sports betting adults are more affluent, younger, more diverse and better-educated adults than the general population.”

The two age groups typically don’t want to hang out in the same space. It’s not a surprise to see casino and sportsbook operators on and around the Vegas Strip look to their future customers. Heck, sports betting won’t really take off until Generation Z turns 21 and can legally gamble.

Additionally, offering horse betting costs money. Casino corporations are always looking to streamline expenses so it makes sense According to UNLV Gaming, the Race Book accounted for 0.3% of gaming revenue for the big Vegas Strip casinos in 2017. Race Books have accounted for half of one percent or less revenue for these casinos since 2011.

The evolution of sportsbooks

Three of the four sportsbooks that don’t offer horse racing are not set up as a traditional sportsbook with chairs and big screens.

The Moneyline at Park MGM is more of a sports bar and restaurant with TVs at every turn. Hooters is mostly a sports bar with beer pong, billiards, cheap beer and lots of TV’s to watch the games. The Book at The Linq has almost 80 TVs with a focus on a premium area with bottle service and a wait staff.

Horse racing isn’t entirely dead in Las Vegas

There’s more to Las Vegas than the Strip. There are still plenty of sportsbooks in Las Vegas that offer betting on the ponies. Most of the off-strip casinos still dedicate 33% to 50% of their screens to horse racing.

The South Point even has a separate Race Book just for horse bettors. Rampart Casino actually lowers the TV volume on featured games to play audio from bigger races.

There are still some horse racing holdouts on the Vegas Strip. During the day, the beautiful Wynn Las Vegas sportsbook is dominated by horse racing. The casino offers more horse racing wagering opportunities than most Las Vegas casinos.