March Madness in Las Vegas – 48 Hours of Hoops, Packed Sports Books, and Fremont Street

March Madness Las Vegas Style

March Madness festivities arrived in Las Vegas recently and with it came packed crowds and heavy betting action at Las Vegas sports books. I spent the weekend experiencing first-hand the excitement in Las Vegas for March Madness and I’ll venture to say that there is no better place than Sin City for catching all of the NCAA Tournament action. Here’s a look at 48 hours in Las Vegas during March Madness opening weekend, with a bit of Fremont Street flavor.


Cosmopolitan and The Cantor Race & Sports Book – Upon arriving in Las Vegas on Saturday morning, I ventured over to The Wicked Spoon buffet at The Cosmopolitan. The first indication that this was not your typical sports weekend was the line, which was out the door, at the Cosmopolitan Race and Sports Book.

Long Line at the Sports Book During March Madness (Cosmopolitan)

Line is Out the Door During March Madness at The Cosmopolitan








I’ve never seen the betting lines here so long and it was also probably the first time that the line to make bets at the sports book was longer than the line to get into The Marquee Day Club.  It was great to see the sports book so lively an hour prior to tip off of the first game that morning (VCU vs. Michigan).

Monte Carlo/Aria – After a delicious breakfast at The Wicked Spoon, it was time to head over to The Monte Carlo where I was staying. The Monte Carlo is no frills, clean, and a bit sterile – I didn’t care much for the front desk staff (more on that in a bit). However, their rates are usually pretty good for a strip property and the resort is centrally located near Aria, Cosmopolitan, and Bellagio. The Monte Carlo sports book is also one of the more underrated sports books on the strip. At tip-off Saturday morning, the sports book was standing room only; great for The Monte Carlo, but not so much for me and my group of 3 friends.

Big Crowd at the Monte Carlo Sports Book for March Madness

Big Crowd at the Monte Carlo Sports Book for March Madness








We headed to the nearby Aria and the sports book here was equally as busy as The Monte Carlo and it was obvious (and something I anticipated) that seats at most spots on the strip would be hard to come by. So, what to do at this point to hunker down for a day of hoops action?  Off to Downtown!

The D – The first stop upon arriving on Fremont Street was The D. Our plan was to head to the Detroit Ballroom where The D’s March Madness party was set up. The D reserved an area for the March Madness in Las Vegas Facebook Group  and offered a match play deal as well as a cool March Madness tee-shirt when buying in for $100 at the tables (you didn’t have to play – just buying in got you a shirt). Before heading to the ballroom party, we stopped by the The D sports book to lay some bets down and low and behold, three comfortable lounge chairs sat there empty right in front of the flat screens. Needless to say, my friends and I claimed our spots and enjoyed several hours of betting and watching March Madness at The D. Also, the William Hill operated sports book at The D was providing drink tickets – did you hear that Cantor?

During March Madness viewing on Saturday at The D, I had the pleasure of meeting Barry I., who started and moderates the 800+ member March Madness in Las Vegas Facebook Group.

March Madness Party at The D

March Madness Party – Detroit Ballroom The D







Barry showed me around the ballroom set up that The D provided in their 12th floor Detroit Ballroom; and while up there, I snagged my cool Downtown Hoopstown shirt and signed up for the match play offer.  After all of the interaction via social media, it was great to meet a fellow Las Vegas sports book fan in person – I certainly hope we cross paths again at the sports book on a future Vegas trip!


I had wanted to try breakfast at DuPars Restaurant & Bakery for quite some time and had never gotten to it. This is a gem of a little vintage coffee shop located within The Golden Gate Casino – I kick myself for waiting so long to try this place. The pancakes are the best I have ever tasted (the short stack was plenty for my wife and I to share) and I recommend this place for a very cool, old school breakfast to get the motor running for a day of Vegas fun.

Golden Nugget – After the delicious breakfast at DuPars, it was off to the Golden Nugget to watch Ohio State squeak by Iowa State (there were a lot of unhappy folks as Ohio State failed to cover). The Golden Nugget sports book is always one of my favorite spots when I’m exploring Fremont Street – a small space, but the seating is awesome and the betting counters are well staffed. Drink coupons are pretty easy to come by here as well, especially if you are tipping the ticket writers. Also, for horse racing fans, there are Racing Forms offered for free – a perk that is getting harder to find in Las Vegas sports books these days.

Plaza – I spent a portion of Sunday afternoon at The Plaza to check out their new William Hill operated sports book, and I was certainly impressed by the revamped and remodeled space.

The new William Hill Sports Book at The Plaza

The New William Hill Sports Book at The Plaza







The set up now has somewhat of a sports bar feel with stools and tables dominating the sports book floor complimented by a myriad of flat screens for viewing sports. The Plaza serves up some cheap beer to boot – $3 Bud and Coors Light pitchers as well as $2 Dos Equis bottles at any casino bar. The Plaza sports book will give the Golden Nugget a run for its money for the best sports book downtown.

One More Stop at The D – Prior to heading back to the strip, I had a few winning tickets to cash at The D. While there I spent some time watching basketball at The Longbar – the flat screens are set up nicely for sports viewing and the bartenders are friendly and attentive. I certainly plan to hit The Longbar again during baseball season.

The Longbar at The D - Great Sports Viewing

The Longbar at The D – Great Sports Viewing







Monte Carlo – To wrap up a full day of March Madness, it was back to home base at the Monte Carlo. I had an online fantasy baseball draft scheduled later in the evening so I called the Monte Carlo front desk to ask about in room Wi-Fi. Here’s how the conversation went:

Me: How much is the in room Wi-Fi?

Front Desk: I’m sorry, the Monte Carlo does not offer in room Wi-Fi

Me: Well, is there a restaurant or an area downstairs near a TV where Wi-Fi is available?

Front Desk: Uh, well, Starbucks has Wi-Fi and the signal might travel to The Pub.

Me: Thanks, good bye.

I proceeded to get off of the phone with Mr. Clueless and went to social media for a solution to my Wi-Fi dilemma.

After hitting up Twitter (thanks @eastcoastgambler) I was reminded that all MGM Resorts properties offer free Wi-Fi in their main/casino floor area. I did a test run in the sports book and low and behold, a strong Wi-Fi signal was to be had. The Monte Carlo sports book was still packed for the late March Madness games, however I was lucky enough to find a desk area that was perfect for my fantasy baseball draft needs and with good views of TV screens to catch Duke vs Creighton (Duke covered…yes!). So, if for some reason you need Wi-Fi in the sports book, the Monte Carlo has a great signal.

Wi-Fi at the Monte Carlo Sports Book

Free Wi-Fi at the Monte Carlo Sports Book







The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority indicated that Las Vegas hotels were at 97% occupancy during the opening weekend of March Madness and by the amount of humanity around town (especially along The Strip) I believe it. It was reported that most of the March Madness viewing parties (Cosmopolitan, Planet Hollywood) sold out and that some spots were actually doing last minute raising of prices for their March Madness events. However, between the hoops fans and the spring break crowds, Las Vegas was jumping over the 4-day period of the opening weekend of March Madness – and that’s a good thing. If you’re a college hoops fan, March Madness in Las Vegas is definitely something you must experience.

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