With 50% Capacity, Vegas Casinos Can Offer Many March Madness Options

Written By Marc Meltzer on March 12, 2021

The first weekend of March Madness is just about here and Las Vegas is ready. The men’s college basketball tournament was canceled last year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. While the tournament will be played this year, things will be a little different for everyone involved.

The world is still slowly getting back to normal as coronavirus cases slow. However, things still aren’t quite what they used to be. As usual, there are multiple college basketball conference tournaments happening in Las Vegas.

Last year all of these tournaments were canceled entirely. While they’re taking place, it’s not business as usual. None of the basketball tournaments have fans attending. The road to normalcy isn’t fast but it’s happening.

Casino, restaurant, and bar capacity increasing

In February, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak announced capacity restrictions increases. The bump from 25% to 35% capacity at casinos, restaurants, and bars was barely noticeable. During that announcement was a second capacity limit adjustment.

Coincidentally or not, capacity limits will increase from 35% to 50% on March 15. This happens to be the first week that March Madness takes place. The first four days of the tournament are among the busiest weekends in Las Vegas.

The increased capacity will be noticeable for sports fans and bettors. Many Super Bowl watch parties were canceled in February. It’s understandable as it can be difficult for a party to make money with so few people.

March Madness parties are not being canceled to the same extent. There won’t be as many March Madness watch parties as 2019 but there will be plenty of socially distanced places to watch and wager on the games.

Vegas is returning to normal

Each month this year Las Vegas, anecdotally, seems to be returning to typical crowd sizes. On a recent earnings call, Caesars CEO Tom Reeg touted the companies Las Vegas hotels were 95% occupied during a weekend. For comparison, weekdays have been about half that.

Lower than usual room rates attract bargain hunters looking for a weekend getaway. However, the booking window is expanding. During the peak months of coronavirus, most Las Vegas casino operators saw visitors booking hotel rooms just a few days before visiting.

The lead time at Caesars and MGM Resorts properties is expanding. The companies are seeing longer booking windows. This is typically a sign of leisure and business travelers flying to Las Vegas. Before we know it, Las Vegas will be full of tourists from all over.

Gaming spaces, bars, and restaurants are already seeing an uptick in business based on recent visits to casinos on the Vegas Strip. The crowds in Las Vegas for the first weekend of March Madness won’t be totally packed like in previous years.

Having said that, there will be many sportsbooks and watch parties that are packed to the 50% capacity limits allowed by the government.

Nevada sports betting apps are different

Mobile sports betting apps have become ubiquitous in states with legal sports betting. Nevada may have been the first to launch mobile sports betting but the state has fallen behind the technology curve.

Signing up and placing money into a Nevada sports betting app is different than most states. The somewhat archaic process of signing up for an account in person at a casino makes it more important to do so before the games start.

All casinos in Las Vegas have sports betting apps may only be used anywhere inside of Nevada. The apps available in Nevada are entirely separate from the same brand that might be available elsewhere.

For example, the BetMGM app in Las Vegas is different than the same app in other states. Not only don’t the accounts link together but the odds, wagering options, and promos inside the app may be different because of Nevada gaming regulations.

Nobody visits Las Vegas to stand in lines

Players must visit a sportsbook inside of a brick-and-mortar casino to open and fund a Nevada sports betting app. Subsequent withdrawals and deposits can usually be made through the app.

The signup process normally takes about 10-15 minutes. Signing up for a mobile sports betting account is normally a painless exercise.

The first weekend of March Madness is not a normal time to sign up for an account. Sportsbooks in Las Vegas will be busier than usual. This could make the signup process a bit longer.

Lines of people placing wagers inside the sportsbook should be longer than usual. The account signup process usually begins in these same lines.

In order to avoid the lines by placing sports bets on a mobile app, everyone must endure the same wait to open an online sports betting account. It seems a bit tedious but time shouldn’t be painful.

Since the signup process takes some time, the already long lines inside of a sportsbook could be even longer. Nobody visits Las Vegas to stand in lines waiting to gamble.

Preparing to sign up for a mobile sports betting account can start before even visiting Las Vegas.

Steps to sign up for a Nevada sports betting account

Setting up a sports betting account takes a few minutes but it’s not difficult.

First things first, choose a sports betting app to fund. While the best odds may be the goal, the casino with those odds may not be convenient.

Sometimes the location of the sportsbook is more important than the odds. That’s for the individual bettor to decide.

Just about every Nevada sports betting app is connected to a casino loyalty program. This is also a simple process that can often be started before visiting Las Vegas. A player must have the loyalty card in hand before signing up for sports betting apps at most Nevada casinos.

Paperwork to sign up for some sports betting apps can be started before visiting the casino. Each sports betting app review above has a link to sign up if available.

Bring the loyalty card and any sports betting account paperwork filled out in advance to the sportsbook counter inside of the casino. The rest of the process should take just a few minutes.

That’s the process. Once complete, there’s no need to stand in line to place a March Madness wager. Once the account is established users can set up a pre-paid card to withdraw or add funds from a mobile device.

One last bit of advice would be to sign up for a mobile sports betting account well before the tip-off of the games. Signing up for an account the night before the games would be optimal if possible. There should be fewer people waiting in line to wager and/or open a mobile sports betting account.

Photo by AP / Julie Jacobson
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Marc Meltzer

Marc 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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