Dayton, Ohio. Hartford, Connecticut. Salt Lake City, Utah. Des Moines, Iowa.
These are just four of the host cities for the 2019 college basketball tournament, and while die-hard fans will flock from far and wide to see their favorite teams in the early and, hopefully, later rounds, the drawing power in those host cities simply can’t compare to the allure of Las Vegas.
“I think the reason is twofold,” explains FOX Sports Radio 98.9 FM/1340 AM host and analyst TC Martin. “No. 1: People want to gamble and wager on the games, and No. 2: It’s really a party, and when you think of sporting events, even casual fans that don’t follow [college basketball] that closely know Las Vegas is where they need to go to incorporate that fun factor.”
The city, he adds, has a ready-made formula for entertaining fans who come to see every team and every moment of the action.
Here’s how to create the ultimate fan experience for your tournament vacation in Vegas.
Choose An All-In-One Destination
When you’re busy sweating over your bracket, the last thing you want to do is pack up your things and switch hotels or go in search of a restaurant because you don’t like the dining options where you’re staying. Every Las Vegas resort makes an effort to be everything to everybody, but you’ll want to put in some research ahead of time.
On the Strip
“From the aspect of watching the games, I truly believe The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is the best there is,” Martin says. “It’s the mecca if you want to watch every game possible, on the biggest screens, surrounded by likeable and like-minded fans.”
When the tournament begins, fans will flock to the Cosmopolitan’s eighth-annual “Hoops & Hops” event, an immersive luxury viewing and betting experience inside the resort’s Belmont Ballroom featuring bar games, a basketball court and 10 on-site betting stations.
Martin broadcasts his “TC Martin Show” once a week from the resort and hosts a pre-tournament “betting preview” at its CG Technology Sportsbook there.
Off the Strip
For those who want to feel the rush of game day without navigating the Strip, try the M Resort, home to the 32 Degrees sports bar, Anthony’s Prime Steak & Seafood and the Race & Sports Book Powered by CG Technology. The betting area has 100 private viewing booths, and if you want to stretch your legs on the casino floor, you’ll be able to see games on screens throughout the resort. Even better, if you decide to take a relaxing break in the new TopGolf Swing Suite or the acclaimed Spa Mio, you can still place your bets via the CG Sportsbook mobile app.
Embrace the Madness, Even If You’re New to the Scene
You don’t have to be a betting pro to enjoy the tournament in Las Vegas. As evidenced by events such as “Hoops & Hops,” there is so much more to the experience than just watching the games.
Those who’d like to learn are encouraged to join Martin at his betting seminars.
“We spend the first 10 minutes instructing people on how to wager,” he says. “We get a lot of people here for the first time, and we say, ‘Hey, don’t be intimidated, have some fun,” and we teach them about going to the counter, betting on point spreads, futures lines, odds, etc.”
Martin says the most memorable moments of the tournament happen when beginners stumble into a big win or witness something unexpected.
“We were in the Cosmopolitan once with about 3,000 people in a ballroom watching a meaningless game – a 20-point blowout – but people were yelling and screaming about the over/under,” he recalls. “When it ended, half the room started cheering, the other half were upset, and the people who were new to betting were like, ‘What happened?’
“I say, ‘That team just covered, that team didn’t.’”