The first weekend of March Madness is one of the busiest in Las Vegas. The highlight for sports fans is watching and wagering on 48 college basketball games over the four-day weekend.
However, this is also the early days of pool season as spring-breakers descend on Las Vegas. St. Patrick’s Day is also during that time, and there’s a major convention in town that same weekend.
The combination of these in Vegas at the same time could be overwhelming. Your best bet is to plan out every aspect of your March Madness trip now. And we can help.
Prepare for your Las Vegas visit now
There’s really no overstating how much fun the opening weekend of March Madness is in Las Vegas. Even with all the other activities taking place in Sin City that weekend, one can still have a memorable time as long as they plan early and often.
The CONEXPO-CON/AGG convention is in town through Saturday, March 18. North America’s largest construction show will impact the first weekend of March Madness in different ways as an additional 100,000 people will be in Vegas.
The massive convention is shaking things up in Las Vegas even more than usual. Everything from hotel room prices to table game minimums will be higher during that weekend. Acquiring a reservation at a steakhouse or other fine dining restaurant will be more difficult. Once again, make those reservations now!
Online betting is available in Vegas, with one caveat
On the plus side, Las Vegas was the first state to offer online sports betting. On the downside, opening an account on a Nevada sports betting app must take place in person at a full-service sportsbook inside of a casino.
It should only take about 15 minutes to sign up for an account, but it’s definitely an annoyance. Since there are so many people visiting Las Vegas to bet on March Madness, the lines to sign up may be long during the event. Try to sign up before the games begin.
Signing up for a Nevada sports betting app is a one-time-only process. Once the account is funded in person, it can be refilled directly through the app.
Note: Nevada sportsbook apps are on a different system and aren’t linked to accounts from other states. The following casino companies have different Nevada apps than in the rest of the country:
- Golden Nugget
- William Hill
Additionally, popular apps like DraftKings and FanDuel do not work in Nevada. The new FanDuel sportsbook in downtown Las Vegas is just branding. The odds and mobile betting app are from Boyd Gaming.
Watching March Madness at Vegas sportsbooks
Sportsbooks during the first weekend of March Madness are packed to the gills with bettors, along with alumni and fans of the colleges. The sportsbook environment is electric, but it often comes at a hefty price during the basketball tournament.
The vast majority of seats inside Vegas Strip sportsbooks require a reservation. The cost can be anywhere from $250 for a single seat each day at The Cromwell to thousands of dollars for a group there and elsewhere.
Caesars sportsbooks and restaurants/sportsbooks like Park MGM on the Vegas Strip have sportsbook seat reservations available online. Most other properties require a phone call to reserve a seat. Whether reserving seats online or on the phone, make sure the hours reserved are correct. Some sportsbook seat reservations only cover early or late games.
There are still sportsbooks on and off the Vegas Strip that have general admission seating on a first-come, first-served basis. These are few and far between, so if you’re looking for a seat without paying to reserve one, you should arrive early. Typically, prices for everything are lower away from the Vegas Strip.
The majority of general admission seats are at sportsbooks away from The Strip. There are a few options to consider if you’d rather travel than pay for a seat in a sportsbook.
- Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa
- Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa
- South Point Casino Hotel & Spa
- The Orleans Hotel & Casino
- Gold Coast Hotel and Casino
Other March Madness casino viewing options
Since all of the sportsbooks are overflowing with people, casinos have March Madness watch parties in bars, restaurants and ballrooms. Most of these parties have a fee that can be anywhere from $50 per person and up per day. The average watch party around Las Vegas will cost about $100-$125 per day.
These parties may include food and beverages. Each party is different, so make sure to read the fine print.
There are still a few casinos with general admission parties without a cover charge. The South Point has a great party, but guests should arrive early to secure a seat and have money for food and drink throughout the day.
One of the most unique March Madness viewing options is at Circa Resort and Casino adults-only Stadium Swim pool complex. There aren’t many pools in the US that offer March Madness games all day, blackjack and easy access to sports betting.
The Stadium Swim March Madness experience might be pricey, but it’s a one-of-a-kind, “only in Vegas” experience. There may be other pools that show the games, but there’s nothing like Stadium Swim.
The March Madness In Las Vegas Facebook group is a great resource for all March Madness viewing options.
Betting on March Madness games in person
Las Vegas is a tourist destination, and many sports bettors place bets in person at the sportsbook where they plan on watching the games. The lines at the sportsbook during the March Madness games can be super long, particularly in the morning on the Vegas Strip.
Anyone looking to place bets should be ready early since there can be a wait of up to an hour at the larger sportsbooks. Locations off The Strip are slightly less busy unless you’re at Circa and Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, since these are two of the largest and most popular sportsbooks away from the main tourist corridor.
Other things to do in Las Vegas
Again, there’s nothing like the experience of being in a Las Vegas sportsbook during the first two days of March Madness. The vibe is incomparable, with so many people betting on 16 games each day starting at 9 a.m. and ending around 9 p.m.
That said, 12 hours is a long time to stay in one place. Many of the sportsbooks understand this and, as previously mentioned, set their reservations for only part of the day. This gives guests an excuse to move around a little.
The first weekend of March Madness is also the kickoff of spring in Las Vegas. This is a great time to spend some time outdoors. Pool season is underway, and the most popular clubs will have popular DJs spinning. Check out Encore Beach Club, Wet Republic or another if you want to party with a lot of people outdoors during the day.
Drinkers might want to head outside for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. The Fremont Street Experience will have 18 bands playing for free throughout the weekend. There will also be a holiday parade, Celtic dancing and more. New York-New York Casino & Hotel will host the Celtic Feis Celebration all day and night inside and outside of the casino at The Park.
Big wins at the sportsbook deserve celebrations. This is one reason to make reservations at a great restaurant in advance to visiting Las Vegas.
Of course, hitting the casino floor is always an option after the games are done. The limits on the Vegas Strip will be higher than usual, but near-strip casinos like Palms Casino Resort, Gold Coast and Oyo Hotel & Casino might have decent minimums.
Downtown Las Vegas casinos usually have lower limits and better rules for gamblers, too. Golden Gate Hotel & Casino, Plaza Hotel & Casino and The D Casino & Hotel are great options for lower limits and fun times downtown.