By Buzz Daly
Special to The Sports Network
Betting and Watching the NFL
Is a Guilty Pleasure in Vegas
(Sports Network) -
If you're a football bettor coming to Las Vegas, congratulations. This city offers the best environment anywhere to enjoy the fun and excitement of putting your money where your mouth is and making legal bets.
Watching the games in your hotel room is hardly the best option. There are lots of venues such as the sports books and rooms in the big hotels where you can combine all your activities: bet, eat, drink, gamble, and view the games.
I've visited most of the sites around town, and there is no shortage of good choices, although if you intend to be at a sports book, you should plan on getting there at least one hour before kickoff in order to get a seat. The books are generally standing room only by game time.
One of my favorite places on the Strip to hang out on Sunday is the Stratosphere, which converts its showroom into Pro Football HQ. It offers all the games on big screens in a non smoking room, and is definitely worth checking out. There are nine huge screens configured throughout the spacious room in the shape of a U so every seat has a clear sight line to all the screens
Betting stations are available to handle action, including wagering off the board, or parlay and teaser cards. There is comfortable seating at booths or tables, which can accommodate up to eight people. A good assortment of stadium food like Buffalo wings and Italian sandwiches are available along with beverages, including pitchers of beer, margaritas, bloody marys or cocktails delivered by friendly cocktail waitresses.
I backed my handicapping opinions at one of the full service betting stations installed in the room. It was just like putting in action at the sports book, wagering off the board from handouts as well as playing my favorite cards, ties-win parlay cards. Then, ready for a full day of NFL football, I seated myself at one of the circular tables that accommodates up to eight people. Booths are also available for parties of up to four.
Just my luck to be surrounded by a bunch of cheese heads who were heavily invested in Green Bay. Meanwhile, I was on Detroit +3.5. Unfortunately, for me, 19 seconds from being able to cash a winning ticket, a superfluous field goal gave the Pack a 24-20 win and cover. But the boys from Wisconsin didn't rub it in too badly, and they turned out to be a good natured crew who really knew football, and were delighted to be able to bet legally. "You put a joint like this anywhere in Wisconsin," said Charlie B. from Racine, :and it would be sold out every week."
They devoured enormous amounts of Buffalo wings and Italian sandwiches, along with gallons of brewskis. To their credit, they tipped well, and were a fun group of guys. I knew they were blue collar mid westerners when they eschewed margaritas and cocktails, and just went for the beer.
The rest of the crowd was an eclectic mix of locals and visitors. A few leather-lunged fans from New York were probably the noisiest as they happily rooted for the Jets to bring home their bets via a 27-13 win. Interestingly, Tampa Bay's 27-21 win over Carolina in O. T. was largely ignored. A few very disgruntled visitors from Philly loudly berated the Eagles and Coach Reid. From the comments vigorously expressed by those bettors, It appears his reign in the City of Brotherly Love is coming to an end.
Laptops are welcome and the Stratosphere offers free Wi-Fi. Blackjack tables are open for those who need more action than what is happening on the gridiron.
Sports book director Ed Malinowski describes the experience as, "A big tailgate party surrounded by all the action with unobstructed views of every game, great food and drinks. No other sporting venue on the Strip compares with Pro Football HQ," he asserted. "Just go up the escalator from Roxy's Diner to the Stratosphere Theater and get ready for the best football betting and viewing in Vegas."
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