- Las Vegas sportsbooks are typically packed with viewers on NFL Sundays.
- This season a very limited number of viewers will be permitted due to social distance mandates.
- This policy will likely be in place for the entire 2020 NFL season.
There’s nothing like spending a busy NFL football Sunday watching and betting games in a top flight Las Vegas sportsbook. Unfortunately, that opening sentence might need to be worded in the past tense for the foreseeable future. This season Las Vegas sportsbooks will have their seating capacity extremely limited to facilitate ‘social distancing’ in an effort to further mitigate the coronavirus pandemic.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal did a rundown of how things will be at some of the top properties in town and the takeaway is this: you’re better served heading to Best Buy and getting a new TV set. Right at the top of the article, the RJ heads to the Westgate Superbook and the news isn’t good. The Superbook is the largest sportsbook in Nevada or for that matter the entire world. The facility is massive and even more imposing now that they’ve upgraded their video screens. It seats 1,500 people and in a typical year there will be 1,200 sitting there on the first Sunday of NFL season.
This year, however, the crowd allowed on hand is going to be downright sparse: only 50 viewers will be allowed in the 1,500 seat viewing theater. Westgate sportsbook vice president Jay Kornegay told the LVRJ that the property tried to get approval for more people to no avail:
“We tried and we tried and we tried, but they won’t approve any more than 50 guests for the theater. People are going to have to get there early.”
“We’re draping it off, and only the front sections will be utilized because of social distancing. Those types of venues are limited to 50 people, and there’s no way around that.”
The Westgate removed 60% of the sportsbook seating when the property reopened after the state mandated shutdown of the gaming industry. Even with more than half of the seats removed in the interest of social distancing Nevada regulations limit them to 50% of capacity. With the Nevada Gaming Control Board monitoring licensees for compliance don’t think that Kornegay’s staff will ‘look the other way’:
“We will be monitoring the number of patrons in the sportsbook and pretty much eliminating standing room-only areas. To enforce social distancing, we have to keep the standing room-only crowd moving.”
The Westgate is doing what they can to accomodate NFL fans elsewhere in the property. Two additional viewing areas have been added at The International Bar and Sid’s Cafe. Each area will be limited to 50 people. That’s not much but the property’s options are limited and Kornegay is aware of the limitations:
“We know how popular football is, and we’re doing our best to take care of our guests.”
The story is the same further down Las Vegas Boulevard at the South Point. They’ve added an additional viewing area in the casino to accommodate another 50 viewers. South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews says they’re doing what they can:
“We’re doing our best to spread people out. We’ve got some good social distancing with the seats and the way we’re getting people to line up.”
William Hill spokesperson Adrienne Prather-Marcos said that her company is also trying to balance safety with customer demand:
“With the launch of the NFL season, we anticipate a larger volume of customers and have accounted for extra staffing to ensure our guests and employees remain safe while betting and watching the games.”
And don’t forget your mask. All Las Vegas sportsbooks require that patrons wear one.