March Madness Vegas Style:  Complete With the Billion Dollar Bet

It used to be horse betting that drove sports bettors to Vegas.  Then the books figured out a way to cash in on big sporting events by making Super Bowl Sunday a must do it in Vegas event. Now it is college basketball of all things that will drive sports bettors by the hordes to sin city this Spring and right into the open arms of the books.  The first weekend of March Madness starts on the 20th this year but the betting excitement has already started.

Adding to the madness for the 2014 season is the announcement by billionaire Warren Buffet that he is offering a top prize of one billion dollars for a perfect bracket.  Yes, you read that right, 1 BILLION DOLLARS.  This is incentive enough for even grandma to suddenly take an interest in college basketball.  Odds of winning are estimated at 4,294,967,296 but there will be 20 runner ups in this contest who will get a hundred thousand clams to either fix up or buy a home.  This contest within the contest is likely to make this a March madness weekend like no other.

Everyone can be a winner!

Everyone can be a winner!

Besides Mr. Buffet, the number of games being played out over the first weekend gives even the unluckiest sports bettor the perfect opportunity to strike it rich.  With 48 games to consider, books will often lose to unexpected wins by undervalued teams.   Filling out your bracket for the first round is more luck than skill, and while there are some absolutes, like the number one seed beating the number sixteen, everything else is up in the air.  The number five seed has been beaten by the number twelve more than a few times, so choosing your winners is really not much more than a coin toss at this point. The key to making it to round two is not to depend on too many upsets getting you there.

Gimme an W, Gimme an I, Gimme an N.....

Gimme an W, Gimme an I, Gimme an N.....

So where should you place your bets?  There will be books at every turn, but a few on the strip have more to offer than others.  If you want up-scale try the Bellagio race and sports book.  It is more intimate than others with commander chairs available to sit, watch the games and sweat out your bets.  The Las Vegas Hotel and Casino is the super book with over 400 seats and 42 televisions, or you can get cozy on a couch at Lagasse’s Stadium at the Palazzo and watch the games on their 10 foot by 20 foot projection screen.

Win or Lose, do it in style.

Win or Lose, do it in style.

If you don’t feel like hanging out at the sports book, try one of the viewing parties that will be popping up all over the place.  One of the most popular will surely be Hoops & Hops at the Chelsea, located at the Cosmopolitan Hotel.  The setting is like an exclusive sports lounge, but there are also activities planned to keep you entertained during half time.  Of course you can shoot hoops at the basketball court set up or hang at the video and arcade game stations. The Mirage has also set up March Hoops Mayhem at Rhumbar where you can watch the games from the comfort of their outside patio while downing unlimited free drinks and game food.

With a BILLION DOLLARS on the line, relax!

With a BILLION DOLLARS on the line, relax!

There will be hundreds of places in and around Las Vegas cashing in on the start of March Madness.  If hotel rates are any indication, then it looks like between St. Pats day, Spring break, and a billion dollar wager, the opening weekend of this year’s tournament is going to outdo all the prior ones.

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