Lake Tahoe casinos’ sports books add excitement to the game
Playing the parlay
One of the most popular sports bets is a parlay, in which bettors combine two or more items in search of a greater payout. A parlay can combine between two and 12 “legs” with the payout increasing incrementally — all of the plays have to win or tie for the parlay to win.
“It’s when you want to go ahead and stack on your wager or let it ride,” said Michael Grodsky, director of marketing for William Hill U.S. “If you’re a novice or experienced bettor, there are so many varieties of parlay cards.”
William Hill’s payouts range from $6.75 per dollar for a three-leg parlay to $3,000 per dollar for a 12-legger. At the sports book, simply go to the booth, indicate you’d like to bet a parlay and give the ticket writer your bets.
But don’t forget — as is the case with the sports book or with any gambling game at a casino, at times, the house will always win. If you think you have a problem, please seek help. Visit www.whenthefunstops.com for more information.
Editor’s note: This story first appeared in 2015-16 winter edition of Tahoe Magazine, a product of the Sierra Sun, North Lake Tahoe Bonanza, Tahoe Daily Tribune and Lake Tahoe Action. The magazine is available now on newsstands throughout the greater Reno-Truckee-Tahoe region.
Only two states in the nation have legalized sports betting, and Lake Tahoe’s South Shore offers one of the country’s most unique settings in which to place a bet.
Whether it’s picking your favorite team, putting money down on a parlay or playing the ponies, the sports books at Stateline offer the chance to get in on the action without involving slots, cards or dice.
“You get a big bang for your buck on a sports bet,” said Bob Morrell, race and sports book supervisor at Lakeside Inn and Casino in Stateline. “A game lasts you three hours — your money can last a lot longer than chunking it down at the craps table or the blackjack table.”
Sports wagering is a popular pastime at Lake Tahoe, and has seen a recent increase in interest. After 15 years in Tahoe and nearly three decades in the business, Morrell certainly agrees.
“It seems to be growing,” Morrell said. “The younger crowd is catching on with sports betting.”
The sports books at Tahoe attract locals and out-of-towners alike. No matter who is coming to place a sports bet, the traffic is steady throughout the year.
“Every weekend, you see so many good customers,” said Michael Grodsky, director of marketing for William Hill U.S., which runs the books at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Lake Tahoe and MontBleu Resort, as well as at the Crystal Bay Club and Hyatt Grand Lodge casinos on Tahoe’s North Shore. “What an attraction it is to bring folks in from out of state any time of year to get that action in legally.”
Professional and college football are the most popular sports to bet at the book, bringing in a steady stream of revenue throughout the fall and winter. And during the Super Bowl in February, bets extend beyond a simple point spread or over-under line. William Hill offers 500 ways to bet the game, from the coin toss to its last touchdown.
“We try to become more and more creative,” Grodsky said. “Last year during the Super Bowl, we had a prop bet that was comparing an action that was going to happen in the game to an action that was going to happen in a handball game — it was pretty crazy for us.”
In the spring, the men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament brings in a few strong weekends of March Madness action at the books. And Grodsky said Nevada recently wrapped up the biggest baseball season it has ever seen.
“Sports betting at the lake has grown,” Grodsky said. “It’s just getting more and more popular.”
The South Shore features five sports books within a mile of the California-Nevada state line. Here’s a closer look at the books:
LAKESIDE: THE LOCALS’ SPOT
Just east of the casino corridor, Lakeside Inn and Casino is considered the locals’ sports book. And that’s not the only thing that makes Lakeside unique.
“We’re the only sports book that stands alone up here,” Morrell said. “We’re totally unique — we do our own lines here that might be different than down the street.”
Lakeside makes its own lines throughout the year, point spreads eventually written with dry erase markers adjacent to magnets with team names. On occasion, Morrell said Lakeside has lines that are a full point different than the casinos at the state line.
“We take a peek at what everybody else has, but we adjust based on our local crowd and not what’s happening in Vegas,” Morrell said. “We can change our lines based on the bets we’re getting,”
Thirty-one televisions and a bar surround Lakeside’s sports book. The intimate setting provides a unique experience on game day.
“The room setup, the viewing setup, the bartenders, the specials — we just have so much stuff going on,” Morrell said. “It’s awesome. It’s just total, non-stop fun.”
Football is the biggest sport at Lakeside, especially Super Bowl Sunday. For last February’s game between the Patriots and Seahawks, the sports book reached capacity at 8 a.m. — nearly eight hours before kickoff.
“Football is almost our whole year, and we look forward to it,” Morrell said.
HARD ROCK: WAGER WHILE YOU WATCH
In terms of accommodations, the sports book at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino offers the best spot to see a wager in action on the South Shore. The $60 million in renovations for the casino’s launch last January included a new sports book.
“It’s a nice space we have to work with there; it’s very warm and welcoming,” Grodsky said.
Hard Rock’s sports book features 30 televisions and a nearby bar. The centerpiece of the book is a video wall that features eight televisions and highlights one of William Hill’s most unique aspects — in-play wagering.
“If it’s two teams you don’t know anything about, you can sit there and watch the first quarter, second quarter, third quarter and then jump in the game halfway through the fourth quarter,” Grodsky said. “You can kind of feel out the teams before the first bet.”
William Hill’s betting menu at Hard Rock is the most extensive in Nevada, and features the best payouts on parlay cards. And at the booth, its ticket writers can help even the least experienced of bettors find their way.
“They’re always welcoming of questions, whether you’re a first-time bettor or an experienced bettor,” Grodsky said. “You can go up there and tell them you want to bet on your favorite team and they can help explain the point spreads and the money line to you. They’ll help find a wager on the menu that’s right for you.”
MONTBLEU: PLAY THE PONIES
MontBleu Resort offers a spacious sports book that will get a facelift as part of a $24 million casino remodel scheduled for completion in late 2015. When renovations are complete, the sports book run by William Hill will be located in the area that long housed the Sigma Derby machines.
“When finished, it will absolutely be the best horse racing experience at the lake,” Grodsky said.
Horse racing is currently the defining aspect of the sports book at MontBleu. The book offers parimutuel betting for horse races, a form of betting in which those holding the winning tickets divide the total amount bet in proportion to their wagers — the more people that bet, the bigger the winnings.
HARVEYS AND HARRAH’S: FOR THE MORE SERIOUS
The sports books at Harveys Lake Tahoe and Harrah’s Lake Tahoe offer a more serious vibe for those who want to track their wagers without a ton of fanfare. Caesars Entertainment runs the books at the casinos located across the street from each other just inside the state line.
At Harvey’s, the Video Stadium features 29 televisions and 24 individual booths along with a large LED board displaying the lines and spreads. Across the way, Harrah’s has a smaller book with an adjacent bar that includes nine televisions.