Casinos may lament the decrease in gaming, but one segment of the market has seen steady growth: sports betting. According to the UNLV Center for Gaming Research, from 2008 to 2015, revenue from sports wagering increased by 70 percent. Many casinos are souping up their sports books, including the Cosmopolitan and the Westgate.
“We’ve always had the world’s biggest race and sports book, and we wanted to make it the best race and sports book,” says Jay Kornegay, vice president of race and sports operations at the Westgate’s SuperBook. It’s still a cavernous space, but “we updated it with new amenities. It’s highlighted by the world’s largest indoor video wall,” which is 240 feet wide and 20 feet tall. It makes even the most prosaic game seem like an epic clash of the titans—even if it does feel a little like you’re watching basketball in the Dr. Strangelove war room.
The SuperBook has also introduced a mobile app that allows customers to place wagers from home. “It took off like wildfire,” Kornegay says. “It’s gone beyond our expectations in the amount of accounts we’ve opened and in the amount we handle.”
If the Westgate sports book is the game supersized, the Cosmopolitan’s book offers a cozier, sleeker experience. It has doubled in size and moved to the front of the property: “We felt the old space was very transactional. People would make a bet and they would leave,” says Brian Benowitz, senior vice president of casino operations at the Cosmopolitan. “We wanted to create a destination.”
Now there’s a high-tech sports-pub feel with a central bar, as well as shuffleboard and foosball tables. A large sports ticker runs around the space, which is visible from the Strip. “We’ve had people walking down Las Vegas Boulevard, they’ll see it, make an abrupt stop and come into the Cosmopolitan,” Benowitz says. He also points out that people are turning up in the morning for basketball tournaments, and “we saw a tremendous uptick in volume of wagers, almost 100 percent over what we did the year before.”
While many millennials may eschew other games of chance, they’re willing to drop a few bucks on their favorite team—and both the Westgate and the Cosmopolitan are eager to give them a shiny new place to do it.
Cosmopolitan sports book by Erik Kabik.