March Opening Weekend Madness at Las Vegas Sportsbooks

Posted on: March 2, 2018, 01:00h. 

Last updated on: March 2, 2018, 10:32h.

Finding a seat at a Las Vegas sportsbook might be difficult this weekend, as March opens up with a busy slate of various sporting events taking place around the Valley.

Las Vegas sportsbooks March Madness
Want a seat at a Las Vegas sportsbook this weekend? You might want to arrive early. (Image: Wynn Las Vegas)

And that’s expected to attract more than 150,000 fans to Sin City.

NASCAR will hold three races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights play at their T-Mobile Arena home, and the annual USA Sevens Rugby tournament brings 15 international teams to compete at Sam Boyd Stadium.

There’s also UFC 222 on Saturday night at T-Mobile, with the card headlined by the Women’s Featherweight Championship between Cris Cyborg vs. Yana Kunitskaya.

Once the weekend concludes, a new influx of visitors will arrive for four NCAA men’s basketball conference championships. Headlined by the Pac-12, the Mountain West, WAC, and West Coast conferences are all holding their title tournaments in Las Vegas.

When it comes to sports betting, basketball is the most popular of the aforementioned sports. And after an otherwise slow February, save for the Super Bowl, Las Vegas sportsbooks are excited to get into March Madness hoops.

Weekend Schedule, Odds

Tonight, the busy Las Vegas sports weekend begins with NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series Stratosphere 200 at 6 pm local time.

An hour later, and some 15 miles south, the Vegas Golden Knights take on the Ottawa Senators. The Pacific Division-leading Knights are heavy favorites at area sportsbooks, with their current moneyline at -270.

Saturday’s events rev up with the NASCAR Xfinity Series Boyd Gaming 300 at 1 pm. Kyle Bush is the favorite at +165, followed by Kyle Larson (+275), Ryan Blaney (+350), Christopher Bell (+750), and Cole Custer (+1200).

That night, current UFC Featherweight champ Cyborg is the strong favorite at 1/16 (implied winning chance of 94.12 percent), and the underdog Kunitskaya at 8/1.

As for the weekend-long Rugby Sevens, the Westgate SuperBook lists South Africa as the favorite (2/1), then Fiji (3/1), New Zealand (4/1), USA (6/1), and Australia (8/1) rounding out the top five.

The busy sports betting weekend concludes with NASCAR’s marquee event, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400. Kevin Harvick leads the pack at +500, then it’s Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski (+550), Kyle Busch (+600), and Kyle Larson (+650).

In Like a Lion

After a busy opening March weekend, Las Vegas oddsmakers will anxiously await the unveiling of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament bracket on March 11, aka Selection Sunday.

March Madness is the busiest time for Nevada sportsbooks, as the tournament generates more handle than any other event. In March 2017, Nevada sportsbooks took $439.5 million in wagers, and while the state’s Gaming Control Board doesn’t specify NBA and NCAA totals, it’s safe to assume the vast majority of the money was on the college tournament.

By comparison, last month’s Super Bowl set a record for handle with $158.58 million wagered at Nevada books.

Michigan State and Virginia are currently the odds-on favorites to win the NCAA tournament at +550. Villanova (+600), Duke (+700), and Purdue and Kansas trail closely (+1000).