Las Vegas Sports Books – Unwritten Rules

Las Vegas Sports Books – Unwritten Rules

The old thought of Las Vegas sports books being dimly lit, smoke filled areas of a casino where old guys go to bet on horses is a thing of the past. Places like Lagasse’s Stadium, The Mirage, Venetian, and the soon-to-be-open William Hill sports book at the new SLS have put a more “upscale” face on the old Las Vegas race and sports book. Just because the digs have gotten exponentially nicer, doesn’t mean that the etiquette has. In fact, I still see the same lack of sports book manners now as I did 20 years ago.

What type of “manners” should be employed at a sports book you ask? Well, there are many and I am probably as guilty as the next guy of falling short sometimes. Here is a list of things that both experienced and novice sports book fans should keep in mind next time they are in one of Las Vegas’ sports betting palaces.

Tips on Las Vegas Sports Book Etiquette 

The Dreaded “TAKEN” Sign – Just when you think there are plenty of seats at the sports book, a closer look reveals chairs and desk areas with a “Taken” note laying on it. Rule of thumb – if you are headed to the betting window, the restroom, or going to get a quick bite to eat, then leaving a “Taken” sign is acceptable. However, placing a “Taken” sign at a sports book seat on your way to the breakfast buffet at seven in the morning is a no-no. Especially when you don’t plan to return for several hours. Sports books don’t enforce this much, so you are on your own in terms of honoring a “Taken” sign placed on an empty lounge chair in the sports book for an excessive amount of time.

There are Times When a "Taken" Sign is OK....and Not Ok at the Sports Book

There are Times When a “Taken” Sign is OK and Not OK at the Sports Book








Be Helpful if Asked – Many people have told me that they love sports but are intimidated by the Las Vegas sports book, the usual thing I get is “I walk by and see all of those screens and digital reader boards and I get intimidated.” Not everyone knows what a money line parlay is so help if you ever have the opportunity. I’ll always remember sitting at the Caesars Palace sports book over 20 years ago and having an Archie Bunker looking Denver Bronco fan patiently explain to me what a “teaser” bet was. So help out a newbie if you ever get the chance, a Las Vegas sports book should be a fun and friendly spot.

Don’t be a Knucklehead – In other words, don’t act like a jackass when enjoying the action in a Las Vegas Sports Book. Cheer for your team (or the team you have action on) all you want – it’s part of the fun. However, talking trash about another team or worse yet, being a jerk and criticizing someone else’s sports bet is a sure recipe for problems – not to mention the sign of a true degenerate. I’ve seen this several times and perhaps because money is involved, things get more heated. While sitting at a sports book watching Sunday Night Baseball recently, I listened to a colorful exchange between a Yankee fan and a Red Sox fan that became pretty intense over the 20 minutes or so they were going back and forth (an exchange between a Yankee and Red Sox fan is nothing new I know). A couple of casino security staff eventually arrived to break up the fun however.

Tip the Ticket Writers – These folks work long hours and deal with an array of personalities throughout the day while taking and cashing bets at the sports book. Tipping them a bit when you cash a big winner or simply to get a few drink tickets is well worth the good karma. And who doesn’t like making friends with someone who has the ability to get you and your friends free drinks in Vegas? What is the appropriate tip? Well, that’s up to you but I do know that the ticket writers appreciate it.

Tipping the Ticket Writers can Have its Perks

Tipping the Ticket Writers can Have its Perks








Be Aware of Post Time – This goes for horse bettors and non-horse bettors alike. If you plan to be at the betting window for 15 minutes rattling off your 10 parlay bets as well as other bets for your buddies back home for tomorrow’s games, ask the guy or gal behind you in line if they are betting on a horse race. If so, ask if their race is about to go off. There is nothing more frustrating than wanting to get that horse racing bet in at post time while someone in front of you is betting on next week’s NASCAR race. On the flip side, if you are betting horses, try to hit the window before the horses are loading into the gate – easier said than done sometimes. In true degenerate style, I’ve been guilty of making a mad dash to the betting window to try to get a horse racing bet in only to find that the line is 3-deep.

Lines at the Betting Window can be Long. Plan Accordingly

Lines at the Betting Window can be Long – Plan Accordingly








Double Check Your Bets – Once you receive your betting tickets, step to the side and take a look to make sure that your bets are correct. There is nothing more unpleasant than thinking you had a winner when in fact either you or the ticket writer made an error. As long as you catch the mistake quickly (and the game has not started yet), there should be no problem with the sports book correcting your ticket. It beats running back up to the window and trying to cut in line before kickoff  because of a mistake on a betting ticket.

Always Double Check your Ticket

Always Double Check your Ticket







Don’t be a Slob – We’ve all seen it, a prime sports book seat with papers, food wrappers, empty coffee cups, etc. left behind by Mr. Messy – not exactly pleasant. There is hope however; I once stopped by the Silver Sevens sports book (off strip spot run by William Hill) and quickly noticed how many sports book patrons knew each other. Curious thing was that they would clean up not only after themselves, but also let others know to pick up their mess.  These Vegas locals had truly made that place their own and I observed them politely ask two different people who were leaving, to clean up their parlay cards and betting sheets that they had left strewn on the tables in the sports book. Needless to say, I picked up after myself prior to leaving and I always make sure that I don’t leave a mess behind when visiting any sports book.

Thanks for checking out The Vegas Parlay – The Las Vegas Sports Book Blog.  Connect with us on Twitter @sportsbooktom or via  The Vegas Parlay Facebook Page.

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  1. Great tips on etiquette… I shared it on my fan page to get to more peeps…. Keep up the great work…

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