Get Used To Paying To Reserve A Seat At Sportsbooks On The Vegas Strip

Written By Marc Meltzer on September 17, 2021

Expect to pay for a seat if you plan on visiting a Vegas Strip casino and want to watch football games in the sportsbook after placing a wager. The concept of Las Vegas casinos charging to reserve seats inside a sportsbook isn’t entirely new.

There isn’t a fee to sit in every chair at all casinos on the Vegas Strip but finding free seating in sportsbooks is more difficult than ever.

The number of complimentary general admission seats is lower every year. Since there are fewer free seats available, this issue becomes more prevalent every year. Prices are rising and more casinos are charging to reserve a sportsbook seat.

The practice of charging reservation fees at sportsbooks started with Vegas Strip casinos saving seats for busy events like the Super Bowl and March Madness.

Reserving seats has expanded to almost every casino on the Vegas Strip charging a fee for almost any day there’s a football game. Well, football season is here, and it’s time to plan for the perfect Las Vegas sportsbook experience.

Sportsbook seat reservation prices and policies

Sportsbook seat reservations are different for all casino operators. Sometimes a reserved seat in a sportsbook is just saving a place to watch the games. There are also reserved seats that come with food and/or beverage included. Occasionally, the price for a seat is a minimum spend for any money food or beverages consumed in the sportsbook.

The prices to reserve a seat in a sportsbook may also depend on supply and demand. In these cases, prices may be different depending on what games are on TV. What makes this even more confusing is that prices and policies may differ for casinos owned by the same company. Casino operators like MGM Resorts and Caesars have different sportsbook options at every Vegas Strip casino.

Last but not least, prices may depend on the day and football game(s) on TV. Guests should make sure they’re reserving the right time frame. Some seat reservations are for an entire day.

Sportsbook reservations might only be for a certain segment of games. For example, a reservation may only be for the 10 am or 1 pm games instead of both.

Having said that, here are some examples of sportsbook seat reservation policies on the Vegas Strip from the day this article was written.

Caesars Entertainment

Caesars Palace charges anywhere from $161.87 for a single front-row seat to $1,998.15 for a couch for three for NFL Sunday. The individual seat comes with three (3) beers. The couch price includes all-you-can-drink. Prices are different at all Caesars Las Vegas casinos. Specific information is on each website.

Cosmopolitan

All seats are reserved and require a $400 or $600 fee for two plus tax 20% tip (included in the bill). Reservations are available on the website.

MGM Resorts

The Mirage sportsbook offers limited general admission seating is available and complimentary. There is a fee to reserve seats and couches. The cost of the latter option goes towards a food and beverage minimum. Call each MGM Resorts casino for specific availability.

Wynn Las Vegas

General admission seating is complimentary. There is a fee to reserve Luxury Box seats and couches. Can reserve in person or via phone when Charlie’s Bar and Grill is open.

Bars and restaurants outside of the sportsbooks on the Vegas Strip may also require a reservation. Much like sportsbooks, policies may be different even inside the same casino. Make sure to ask about minimum spend requirements and time frames for reservations.

Sportsbook reservations off the Vegas Strip

The vast majority of sportsbooks off the Vegas Strip only offer complimentary general admission seating. However, two of the biggest and best sportsbooks do offer reserved seating.

The Westgate SuperBook offers complimentary seating for individuals and VIP seating for groups. The sportsbook at Circa offers a limited number of general admission seats along with reserved seats for individuals and groups.

Additionally, sports fans and bettors can watch the games outdoors at Circa on the rooftop Stadium Swim pool deck. There’s an admission charge for all at Stadium Swim. There are reserved daybeds and cabanas as well.

Don’t expect the trend of charging for sportsbook seats to extend to all off-strip casinos. The Westgate and Circa offer sportsbooks that can’t be matched anywhere else in Las Vegas or the rest of the country.

Why are there sportsbook reservation fees?

Las Vegas sportsbooks weren’t always revenue generators. Sportsbooks were an amenity to keep guests in casinos. The sportsbooks were often a place where a gambler would go when taking a break from playing table games like blackjack.

This was more than 20 years ago when gambling was the main revenue generator for Las Vegas. A lot of things changed in casinos after 1999, when non-gaming revenue was greater than gambling proceeds for the first time. Today, Vegas Strip casinos expect to have 60% to 70% non-gaming revenue.

Casino operators started to look at new ways to generate revenue that didn’t necessarily involve gambling. Las Vegas sportsbooks are a low-margin business for casino operators. Sports betting generates a win of about 6%, according to the UNLV Center For Gaming Research.

Vegas Strip casino operators for the past two decades have been looking for ways to increase revenue from retail sportsbooks inside casinos.

Vegas Strip sportsbooks begin charging reservation fees

Some sportsbooks on the Vegas Strip were renovated and remodeled to encourage food and beverage sales. Not all sportsbooks on the Vegas Strip have different layouts. There are sportsbooks with the same arrangements. Regardless of the sportsbook layout, most on the Vegas Strip are charging at least some guests to pay to reserve a seat for the busiest days.

Casinos are in business to make money. Typically, if a venue inside of a casino doesn’t generate revenue, the companies will replace it with something that does. Sportsbooks were shrinking about a decade ago. That’s no longer the case.

Now, these venues are valuable real estate with sports betting expanding across the country. These retail sportsbooks can generate revenue for a casino. They may also serve for advertising a national sportsbook brand like BetMGM or Caesars Sports.

Frankly, if customers weren’t willing to pay the fees, the casinos wouldn’t charge. That’s the bottom line — and not because Stone Cold said so.

Even though people can bet on sports in half the country, there’s truly nothing like the Las Vegas sportsbook experience.

Why are people paying to reserve sportsbook seats?

Paying to reserve a seat at a sportsbook isn’t for everyone. However, there are a number of reasons why people are willing to pay to ensure they have a seat in Las Vegas sportsbooks.

Convenience

Reserving a seat means a guest can get to the sportsbook whenever they arrive to find a seat. General admission seats are usually complimentary, but there’s a catch. These seats are first-come, first-served. If someone wants one of the free seats, they’ll usually have to arrive at the sportsbook at least an hour before game time.

There are enough visitors to Las Vegas who would rather spend time eating, sleeping or gambling instead of sitting in a sportsbook for an hour or more waiting for the games to start.

There are still some options on the Vegas Strip for complimentary open seating, and plenty of properties off the strip that offer the same.

Fear of missing out

The Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) is real — especially in Las Vegas. Reserving a seat inside of a Las Vegas sportsbook means that a visitor will have a guaranteed place to watch the games. They won’t be missing any of the highs and lows of the Las Vegas Sportsbook experience.

The communal encounters inside of a Las Vegas sportsbook are unlike watching the games anywhere else. Between bettors, fantasy players and fans, there’s an energy in the sportsbooks that can’t be replicated at a local sports bar.

While someone may not pay for a seat to watch the games at home, the FOMO on the Las Vegas sportsbook experience is worth the money for some visitors.

Location, location, location

According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, nearly ¾ of visitors to Las Vegas in 2019 stayed at a hotel on the Vegas Strip. The majority of casino visitors will play in the area they stay.

Yes, there are complimentary sportsbook seats available at casinos all over Las Vegas. The majority of visitors won’t spend time getting to and from those casinos. The time spent traveling could be better spent enjoying all of what Las Vegas has to offer. Traveling off the strip usually isn’t in the cards for visitors in town for two or three days.

On the plus side, this leaves complimentary general admission seats open for those willing to travel.

VEGAS, BABY!

This is Vegas, Baby! Las Vegas is a great vacation destination because of the many “Only In Vegas” experiences available. The best Las Vegas sportsbooks can be the home to things sports fans will never see anywhere else.

These special moments can happen during any game in a Las Vegas sportsbook. There are people willing to pay to guarantee a seat so they don’t miss out. See the FOMO section above.

Additionally, visitors to Las Vegas want to create their own special moments. A group of bettors chipping in to reserve a couch or VIP booth in a sportsbook works for some visitors. Casino operators are constantly trying to create a way for sports bettors to find or make their own “Only In Vegas” moments.

Photo by AP / John Locher
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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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