Here’s the good news for the many visitors coming to Las Vegas this week to watch the NCAA Tournament: Some places around town have free viewing parties.
That is, of course, if you can find a seat.
Historically, free seats in sports books are taken before 7 a.m. Thursday and Friday, about two hours before the first game tips off in a 13-hour viewing marathon. And when someone gets a place, they usually camp out all day.
Can you blame them?
Most sports books in town have numerous high-definition, big screen televisions showing every game. There’s reasonably priced food and drink, the excitement of rooting in your wagers, and hundreds of others patrons camped out to create an annual experience that keeps tourists coming back.
They are coming with money to spend.
A total of 3.78 million visitors traveled to Las Vegas in March 2017; $439.5 million was wagered statewide.
Las Vegas, like it does with many events, goes to extremes in hosting. Some properties have parties with luxury seating, high-end food and drink, and satellite betting stations. Those parties, though, require food and drink minimums or require admission.
Here’s our annual list of the many of the parties.
• Hoops Central inside the International Theater at the Westgate opens at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday and Friday. Officials encourage an early arrival at the 1,500-seat venue, where general seating is free and typically fills to capacity. Thursday morning will feature an appearance and autographs from Louisville and Utah Jazz notable Darrell Griffith, and former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman. The theater has multiple high-definition televisions, betting stations and food deals. $25 for reserved seating.
• The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook’s recently renovated 25,000-square-foot book has 4,488 square feet of high-definition video screens. Guests can rent one of 16 luxury boxes, featuring couch seating for up to eight people and access to servers. Boxes start at $3,500.
• Hoops & Hops inside the 40,000-square-foot Belmont Ballroom at the Cosmopolitan includes high-definition projection screens, an on-site sports book, free-throw shooting competition, and complimentary bar games such as Golden Tee and Super Shot. Admission includes access to the open bar. There’s an option to purchase unlimited buffet. Three-day open bar pass is $475. A single-day pass for Thursday or Friday is $225; $125 for Saturday.
• Beerhaus at The Park, which features some of Las Vegas’ most popular craft beers, including Big Dog and Sin City, will have games on all the center bar televisions. When you aren’t watching the tournament, the restaurant’s patio area has shuffleboard. Food options include pretzels with beer cheese and the Beerhaus Brat. Free admission
• TAP at MGM will offer beer-battered Cheesy Mac Bites, burgers and more during tournament games. Beer is served in 24 ounce glasses. Games will be shown on flat-screen televisions throughout the bar. Free admission
• The Money Line at Monte Carlo will have the tournament on 61 screens and is steps away from the sports book. It has 23 beer taps and six Las Vegas beers. Free admission
• The Still at Mirage will have the tournament one its 27 screens. The bar is anchored by Bud Bud’s, the refurbished Airstream trailer that churns out Brian Massie’s signature upscale bar treats such as crispy lobster soft tacos and prime tip skewer. Free admission
• South Point’s “March to the Championship Party” begins at 8 a.m. Thursday-Saturday inside the Grand Ballroom. There are betting stations, food and drink deals and prize giveaway. Free entry.
• The D Las Vegas’ “man cave-style” setup will include all-you-can-eat stadium-style food, a private cocktail server, $25 table game match play per person and four 70-inch high-definition televisions. $175 per person; six-person minimum.
• The Plaza's March Mania viewing party is hosted in the Plaza Events Center, which is a 5,000-square-foot events space featuring 18 high-definition televisions, two projectors and a state-of-the-art sound system. There’s stadium-style food, drinks and a William Hill betting station. $15 daily admission; $40 for the four-day pass.
• Beer Park at Paris, which has a view of the Bellagio fountains, has multiple packages that include food and drink. In addition to high-definition televisions and a betting station, the venue offers billiards and foosball, as well as oversized yard games such as Jenga and Connect Four. Packages begin at $125.
• Le Bar Du Sport at Paris, located near the sports book, offers food and beverage packages with comfortable seating. Packages range from $25 to $200.
• MB Steak at the Hard Rock will offer a burger and beer special throughout the tournament. The locally brewed craft beer is from the Tenaya Creek Brewery. The burger is a black angus blend of chuck and brisket topped with hand-cut Applewood smoked bacon and butterkase cheese. $30 for the special.
• Hard Rock Cafe on the Strip will host a party for games Thursday-Saturday. It will include an open bar featuring call brands and an all-you-can-eat buffet. $195 daily; $420 for all three days.
• Green Valley Ranch Resort will have all-day viewing parties Thursday-Sunday, with doors open daily at 8:30 a.m. Enjoy the games from eight large screens, with no entry fee, inside the Estancia Ballroom.
• Palace Station is offering free admission to its party Thursday-Sunday. Watch all the games inside the grand ballroom across four screens. Doors open one hour prior to the first game tip-off. There will be food and beverage specials.
• Cabo Wabo Cantina inside the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood will offer beer buckets (six beers) starting at $23, nachos for $14.95 or the appetizer sampler for $26.95. Games will be shown on 25 high-definition televisions. In the Loft, the luxury event space above the cantina, games will be shown on multiple flat-panel big screens, including a 200-inch projection screen. Specialty food and drink packages are available starting at $125 and VIP seating and specials are available upon request. Admission is $25 for the Loft.
• Man Caves at Planet Hollywood has complimentary drinks, private buffet, living room viewing space and giveaways. Man Cave with balcony is $3,143 for nine people, or an additional $390 per person; Man Cave without balcony is $2,831 for nine people, or an additional $352 per person; the Championship Man Cave is $6,290 for 12 people or $554 per extra person.
• Ringer Wings, Pizza & Sliders at Planet Hollywood will offer food and beverage specials. Packages start at $125.
• The Treasure Island ballroom will have a free viewing event from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday to Saturday. It will have multiple large-screen televisions, cash bar and concessions, and betting stations.
• Alto Bar at Caesars Palace has the “He Got Game” package, which is in the bar’s private room. It’s $10,000 daily for a group of 20 and includes a food and drink package and jersey choice. In the main bar, there’s a daily all-you-care-to-eat buffet options. $299 per day; $799 for all three days.
• Montecristo Cigar Bar at Caesars Palace offers “living room” setups in the Montecristo Library, featuring games on the floor-to-ceiling video wall. Packages ranges from $500-$1,000 depending on party size. Packages include a bucket of beer and Montecristo cigar.
• Vista Cocktail Lounge at Caesars Palace provides an intimate ultra-lounge setting with drink specials, bottle service and food available from Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill. Table service is available for four, six and eight guests. Starts at $500.
• Bound at Cromwell offers views of the sports book, three drink tickets and a food voucher to Eatwell for the choice of one pizza or order of Barbary Dogs. Interlude, the property’s center bar, offers a similar package. Starts at $150.
• The Garden Bar at Flamingo will have food and beverage packages on Saturday and Sunday only. There’s a raffle during games. Packages include food from Café To Go and beer buckets. Starts at $75.
• 5 O’ Clock Somewhere Bar at Flamingo will have games on large projection screens. It also has a beer pong table for entertainment. Food and beverage packages start at $75.
• Carnaval Court at Harrah’s will have an “open-air street party” in its outdoor venue. The VIP package includes seating for six and a Skyy Vodka bottle. Packages start at $350.
• The Pool at The Linq includes a game-day buffet featuring Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar’s wings, giveaways and more. Cabanas can also be reserved for an additional cost. Admission is $99.
• At Rio, iBar will offer food and drink packages along with open seating for the initial four tournament days. Packages start at $150.
• The Sports Deli at the Rio has a game-day food package of two orders of mozzarella sticks, 24 wings, a five-topping pizza and a bucket of domestic beers. Package is $75.
• At all Boyd Gaming properties — The Orleans, Gold Coast, Suncoast, Sam’s Town, California, Fremont, Main Street Station, Aliante, Cannery and Eastside Cannery — drink specials through March 31 include: $3 domestic beers and $15 buckets; $4 imported bottles and $20 buckets; $5 Stoli Bloody Mary, $6 Captain and Pepsi, $7 Patron Shots and $8 Ketel One and Red Bull.
• Food specials at the California Thursday-Sunday include chicken wings $6; pizza slice and hamburgers $5; nachos with chili and cheese $4.50; nachos with cheese or pretzels with cheese $3.50; hot dogs $2.50; popcorn $1.50.
• Admission is free at the Fremont Events Center Thursday-Sunday with doors opening at 8:30 a.m. Food specials include $10 whole pizza; six piece chicken wings for $6 or 10-piece for $9; chili bowl with rice for $5; prime rib drip with chips for $7, hot dogs for $3, and more.
• UNLV greats Anderson Hunt and Larry Johnson will sign free autographs from 4 p.m.-5 p.m. Friday inside the Arizona Ballroom at the Gold Coast. The ballroom will have a free event throughout the initial four tournament days, including betting stations and memorabilia giveaways.
• The Orleans’ Mardi Gras Ballroom will have a free event throughout the initial four tournament days, including betting stations and memorabilia giveaways. Plus, UNLV greats Anderson Hunt and Larry Johnson will sign free autographs from 2 p.m.-3 p.m. Friday.
• At the Eldorado and Joker’s Wild in Henderson, Bud Light specials are $1.50 for draft beers and $2 for bottles.
• The Golden Nugget’s viewing event at the Grand Events Center includes all-you-can-eat stadium-style food and four premium drinks. Admission: $159, Thursday; $199, Friday; $119, Saturday; $89, Sunday. All four days, $499.
• The Stratosphere will show games on multiple big screens Thursday-Sunday inside the Stratosphere Theater. They’ll have $15 Bud and Bud Light pitchers, a cash bar, live betting stations and blackjack tables. Doors open at 8 a.m. for Stratosphere hotel guests (must show hotel room key) and 8:15 a.m. for general admission.
• At the 57 Las Vegas-area PT’s Entertainment Group taverns, they’ll have $4 Bud Light bottles during tournament games. During happy hour from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and midnight to 2 a.m. daily, it’s half off drinks and pizzas, and select appetizers. Golden Rewards guests can earn up to 10 times points during games. If you make a deposit of $5 or more at a William Hill kiosk, you’ll receive an entry to win a trip to the 2019 Final Four in Minnesota. Its properties include PT’s Pub, PT’s Gold, PT’s Ranch, PT’s Brewing Company, Sean Patrick’s, Sierra Gold and SG Bar.
• The Silverton’s “Nothin’ But Net” party at the Shady Grove Lounge or Mermaid Lounge features unlimited food and drink. Tickets are $50 for unlimited food and Miller Lite draft from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. or 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. $100 for unlimited food and premium bar from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. or 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., or $125 all day. A four-day pass is $350.
• The Downtown Grand will be giving out free popcorn during tournament games Saturday and March 24. Games will be shown on many of the property’s televisions on the casino floor.
• Attempt a half-court shot at Deja Vu Adult Emporium to win prizes all month.
• Crazy Horse III’s “‘Hoops and Hotties” event offers $20 buckets (four bottles) of Bud and Bud Light. Visitors who drive themselves enter for free.
• Spearmint Rhino will have the tournament on more than 20 big screens. Budweiser products are $5 during games; premium bottles are $200. Normal admission is $20 before 5 p.m.; $50 after 5 p.m. Locals are free.
• The Las Vegas-area Remedy’s and Distill bars will have food and drink specials during the games, including Miller Lite drafts for $3, 100-ounce draft for $15, shots of Jack Daniels for $5 or a bucket of five Miller Lite for $12.50; food specials include steak nachos and Philly fries for $7, or corn dogs for $5.
• Charlie’s Bar & Grille at Wynn Las Vegas on Thursday-Sunday will have private tables for tournament viewing with full food and beverage service. $400 per person food and beverage minimum.
• Eastside Lounge at Wynn from Thursday-Sunday will offer all-day VIP passes, which includes unlimited beverages. Reserved table for six is $1,000
• The Wynn sports book has reserved seats Thursday-Sunday. On Saturday and Sunday, its luxury boxes will be available for rent. . $250 food and beverage minimum required for seats; $2,500 (up to six guests) or $3,000 (up to 10 guests) for boxes
• The Player’s Lounge at Encore has tables with unlimited beverage service available Thursday-Sunday. $2,500 for up to eight guests; $1,200 for up to four guests
• Lagasse Stadium at Palazzo will have the tournament on more than 100 high-definition screens, including its main screen, which is 9 feet- tall by- 16 feet wide. Seats are plush stadium-style, allowing patrons to sit back. Also, it is teaming with Canyon Ranch SpaClub to offer massage stations. Food options from Chef Emeril Lagasse include: tomahawk bone-in 32 oz. ribeye with mashed potatoes for $85; sautéed mushrooms and onions, sautéed lump crabmeat, grilled shrimp, seared foie gras, or sautéed lobster meat, Alaskan king crab legs with clarified butter and Lagasse’s kicked-up cocktail sauce, priced per pound at $68. Also, candied bacon for $12 and tater puffs for $13.
• The Dorsey at Venetian will open at 2 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. There are seven screens behind the bar, one in the DJ booth and one in the library. Beverage minimums start at $100 per person
Umami Burger, Beer Garden & Sports Book at SLS Las Vegas will host four days of Hoops Madness viewing parties complete with merchandise giveaways and open bar and hosted food packages from Thursday, March 15 to Sunday, March 18.
Packages start at $50 per person with seating in the Beer Garden, paired with an open bar. Other packages include food and beverage credits starting at $150 per person, with options to sit inside Umami Burger or outside at the Beer Garden bar, as well as table seating. The full listing of packages and reservations is available at www.slslasvegas.com. Open bar packages include well drinks, Bud Light and house brew. Package prices include tax and gratuity.
Umami offers more than 50 TVs throughout the venue, in addition to an extensive craft beer selection and an outdoor Beer Garden with views overlooking the Strip. Guests may choose from a full menu of offerings including variety of Umami-style burgers with house sauces, beef barbacoa loaded nachos, buffalo chicken wings, crispy chicken fingers, fries, salads and even a warm chocolate chunk cookie for dessert.