Vegas Sportsbooks Cash In On Reserved Seating During March Madness

Written By Marc Meltzer on March 18, 2018 - Last Updated on March 19, 2018
March Madness Betting

Big sports events in Las Vegas are big business. Gambling is no longer the only way casino and sportsbook operators are generating revenue. Today, they’re looking to make money from the chairs in the sportsbook. Selling reserved seats in sportsbooks isn’t exactly new to Las Vegas but prices are rising and it’s growing rapidly.

During the first weekend of March Madness, more casinos than ever before decided to charge for the right to sit in their sportsbook than ever before. While some visitors complained, others just dealt with it and paid or looked for other less expensive options. It’s like they were adults making a decision on how to spend their money. GASP!

  • Reserved seats at the Caesars Palace sportsbook cost $500 per person per day. VIP seats cost $1,000 per person per day. Both sold out Thursday and Friday.
  • The International Theater at Westgate sold reserved seats for the first time ever. The $25 seats sold out for Thursday and Friday.

And the sportsbooks during March Madness were as busy and rowdy as ever before.

A thriving business during big sporting events

Casinos are no longer run by the mob. They’re billion dollar corporations that are always looking to improve profits for shareholders. There’s a constant search for new ways to generate revenue or to save money. Once the operators find something customers are willing to pay they keep pushing the prices until visitors stop paying.

  • Mandatory hotel resort fees in Las Vegas are now as high as $45 at The Venetian and The Palazzo.
  • Self-parking fees at Bellagio are nearing $20 per day, while valet is $30 per day.

Visitation may have dropped last year but it’s not like people are running away in droves. Visitors to Las Vegas fell 1.7% in 2017. However, that decrease in visitation was made up for by finding new ways to earn money and new customers willing to pay for the Vegas experience.

Seats in a sportsbook are full for major events. Paying money to guarantee a seat in a sportsbook has become popular for major events in Las Vegas. Everyone wants to be in the middle of the action and some visitors to Las Vegas are willing to pay for the comfort of a seat. A seat is more important for the first weekend of March Madness since there are 16 games over 12 hours on the first two days.

You can watch March Madness in a bar or ballroom room anywhere. But there’s no other experience like watching and legally wagering sports in a Las Vegas sportsbook. In addition to comfort, there’s a value in FOMO. The Fear Of Missing Out on that special moment in the sportsbook is worth the price of guaranteeing a seat for some people.

Is there a tipping point for casinos charging for anything they can? Sure but not anytime soon. The sportsbooks were as busy as ever. If gaming revenue and the handle isn’t hurt by charging for seats, then the casino and sportsbook operators will continue to push the limits of pricing. Even if gaming revenue decreases the fees in sportsbooks may continue if the bottom line shows a greater profit.

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Marc Meltzer

Marc Meltzer grew up on the mean streets of the South Bronx. He's the rare combination of Yankees and Jets fan which explains his often contrarian point of view. Marc is a freelance writer and social media consultant. Writing about steak, booze, gambling and Las Vegas is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

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