Watching and wagering on pro and college football games in Las Vegas is an annual tradition for many. The casino sportsbooks are a great place to watch the games, given the atmosphere, availability of complimentary drinks for bettors and cocktail service.
Some sportsbooks, like the BetMGM one at The Cosmopolitan, offer food delivery to the sportsbook.
But once you’ve eaten and have a nice buzz going, you may want to take advantage of the whole casino environment and try your luck at some games. After all, sometimes sports bettors and fans want even more gambling while watching the (often lengthy) games. Bets can take a few hours to give the player a win or loss – and players might be looking for something more instant, perhaps even during halftime or a short break.
More than just sports betting
There are a handful of Las Vegas sportsbooks that offer bartop gaming inside or just outside of the sportsbook.
The gaming machines at the bars offer video poker and more. Most machines also have slots, keno and blackjack. Newer bartop machines may offer games like roulette and craps as well.
In addition to the extra gambling options, some of the games near the sportsbook allow players to access complimentary drinks.
Most casinos will offer a complimentary beverage if, and only if, the person sitting in the chair is playing the machine in front of them.
Unfortunately, not every casino has a bar or gaming space that looks directly into the sportsbook. Most Las Vegas casino bars only offer a few TVs.
A limited number of TVs at a bar might be fine for standalone games. However, when there are multiple games on like Saturday and Sunday during football season this might be a bit of a hindrance.
Thankfully, there are a number of sportsbooks where there are other gambling options with a direct view of the games on the big screens. We will get into those in just a minute.
Bartop video poker is a top pick in Vegas casinos
Video poker is often the game of choice at bartop gaming machines. Around the casino and at the bar, video poker can offer some of the best returns and a low house edge for players.
Similar to blackjack, the one caveat for a low house edge and higher return is that players must use perfect strategy. This is the only way to get optimal returns playing video poker. Every strategic misplay increases the theoretical house edge for the casino and lowers the return for the player.
The best video poker paytables in a casino can return more than 100% to players with perfect play. This is a rare find in Las Vegas casinos but it’s available.
The best bartop video poker paytables will offer just over 99% returns. The worst video poker paytables, often at bars on the Vegas Strip, offer returns between 94% and 96%. This isn’t great but it’s not awful. Video poker odds are better than slots and keno on the same machine.
These games have a higher house edge because they’re meant for players looking to enjoy quick access to drinks and better scenery (TVs, people watching, etc.). The bartop video poker games are rarely the best bets in a casino.
Having this understanding should allow more knowledgeable players to be comfortable with the money in play. This is helpful when choosing a video poker bar to enjoy cocktails or just watch the games. A smarter gambler is a better gambler.
Two top places for bartop gaming next to the sportsbook
Not all Las Vegas casino floors are designed for sports bettors. If they were, they might have a setup like Circa Sportsbook. The casino was designed with sports fans and bettors in mind.
The 118 by 38-foot video screen is the largest in a sportsbook anywhere in the world. It’s visible from both levels of the casino inside and outside of the sportsbook space.
In addition to 350 seats inside the sportsbook, there are another 70 video poker machines with a direct view of the sportsbook on two levels surrounding the main area. The Overhang bar on the second floor has a few more machines with a view but is a little farther away from the sportsbook. Complimentary drinks are available for players at both locations.
According to the video poker paytable tracking website, vpFREE, the paytables for the games overlooking the sportsbook offer returns above 99% for anyone playing the 50 cent denomination or higher. Quarter players will find a game with a return of around 98% with perfect play. Not bad at all.
The Westgate Superbook has numerous video poker games available at the bar inside of the sportsbook. The massive bar with a perfect view of the huge video wall has video poker games. However, these aren’t the games with the best returns by the sportsbook.
According to vpFREE, there are eight video poker machines to the side of the sportsbook that have returns of 98%-99%.
Circa and Westgate both have massive sportsbooks with great viewing for those who want to play video poker while watching the games.
More Las Vegas locations with a sportsbook view
There are a few other casinos near and on the Vegas Strip with direct views of the sportsbook, but the views from these bars either aren’t as good or they have video poker machines with poorer returns.
Tonic Bar at Palms has a view of the sportsbook but it’s outside of the main space and watching the games isn’t as easy as Circa or Westgate. However, $1 video poker players will find multiple video poker games with returns above 99%, according to vpFREE. This bar also has an excellent complimentary beer list.
On the Vegas Strip, The Venetian has a video poker bar with an unobstructed view of the sportsbook.
The view at the Cosmopolitan sportsbook bar might be cut off with guests walking by, but viewable otherwise.
Harrah’s has video poker machines inside of the sportsbook but they might be too close to the viewing screens for some.
Wynn does not offer complimentary drinks at its video poker bars. Even if the view from the bar at Charlie’s Bar & Grill looking into the sportsbook is satisfactory, all food and drink must be paid for.
There are a few other Las Vegas sportsbooks with bars but none have a direct view of all of the games, so Circa and Westgate are your best picks for a wager with a side of gaming machine.