Last week a visiting cousin from New York City was given a complimentary upgrade on a room at the Hard Rock. There was no particular reason for it, other than the room was available. My cousin was bowled over. I explained to her that casinos sometimes do this as an intelligent PR move, but she wanted to do something in return for the desk clerk who facilitated it. A gift. But what do you get in a situation like this when you don’t know a thing about the person you’re buying for? It’s a situation that everyone runs into at some point, but in Las Vegas there’s a unique and easy play. Make ’em a sports bet.
There are a number of reasons why this works. For starters, it’s easy. If you know where the recipient comes from you can pick a team from or near their home city. In this case the Hard Rock guy was from Detroit, so a bet on the Sunday opener for the Lions was an easy choice. Pick a team, hit the sports book, buy a ticket and hand it over.
Next, you’re buying this gift at a discount. Say you want to spend $20. You can accomplish that for half price with the sports-bet gift. Make a bet for $11 to win $10. If it wins, the ticket holder gets $21 total, but you’re out only $11. Yes, when the bet loses the ticket is worth nothing, but the perception is still that you’ve bestowed a $21 gift.
Then there’s the entertainment value that comes with the bet. The person who’s holding the ticket has a freeroll on the game. Trust me, they’re gonna watch it.
Finally, there’s just something cool and different about the idea. We’re in Vegas, and this is a Vegas thing to do.
This play works particularly well around Christmas for hard-to-buy-for friends, especially when you know they’re big fans of a specific team. If it’s an NFL team that’s in the hunt for a championship, you can buy a futures bet to win the conference or the Super Bowl. Say your friend is a Cowboys fanatic and you can get them to win it all at 10-1. Spend $50 and that’s a potential $550 payday (remember, they get to keep the amount you paid for the bet). If you want to get fancy, your friend can lock in a profit by hedging with a bet the other way if the Boys happen to win a game or two in the playoffs.
So my cousin bought the ticket and gave it to the Hard Rock dude, who was absolutely thrilled. The Lions looked like world-beaters against the Chargers before (typically) blowing the game in the fourth quarter, meaning Hard Rock cashed zippo. No matter—the gift was appreciated and absolutely generated some excitement.
It’s easy, fun and a 90 percent effective go-to play in a pinch.
Anthony Curtis is the publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor and LasVegasAdvisor.com