It takes a lot to surprise Jay Kornegay. As the sportsbook director at the LVH (formerly Las Vegas Hilton) sportsbook, Kornegay's seen it all during his eight years at the helm of the city's bellwether operation — and made money for the casino in the process. When you run a book with the widest variety of futures and proposition bets available while simultaneously releasing those lines before anyone else in Vegas, you normally end up taking a lot of action. When we talked to Kornegay this past week, though, it was the absence of action on one particular line that shocked him. And that's just one of the five fascinating tidbits we took away from our chat with one of Vegas' foremost bookmakers.
1. Nobody's bet on the Charlotte Bobcats. Nobody. The LVH is renowned for having futures bets available before anyone else, so degenerates like myself descend on the book regularly to try and find a long-shot championship or conference championship winner before anybody else. And after the Mavericks followed years of disappointing playoff performances with a title win last season, it seemed like a sure thing that NBA long shots would be bet heavily in a weird, shortened season.
In my opinion, the Aria casino has the best sportsbook in Vegas. It's a lofty honor, because it's really not hard to create a fun time when you combine sports with betting, televisions, and drink service, and there are a lot of places on the Strip that manage to do so rather beautifully. In the end, picking a favorite becomes more about personal taste than about something absolute.
Vegas is simultaneously the most useful and depressing place in America on Thanksgiving. Useful, of course, because the city turns into a hundred different Thanksgiving dinners with no invitations needed. Virtually every elite restaurant on the Strip remains open and cooks a turkey dinner with all the trimmings that blows away the meal your aunt was going to slave over all day. Chances are that your aunt wasn't preparing pumpkin risotto, foie gras creme brulee, or toasted cinnamon ice cream. If turkey isn't your favorite, restaurants offered alternate options like bison tenderloin, Australian Kobe beef, and bourbon barrel-aged ham. And if you actually like turkey too much, the city's many buffets offered Thanksgiving dinner on a loop for ten hours straight. You are now hungry.
This week, our sportsbook review heads to what might be Vegas's most luxurious resort: the Wynn. Opened by casino magnate and namesake Steve Wynn in 2005, the hotel and its attached sister property, Encore, cost about $5 billion to build at the peak of the Vegas megacasino boom. It's the only hotel on the strip with its own golf course, and in our humble-yet-unbiased opinion, the Wynn is home to the nicest "standard" hotel rooms in all of Vegas. The casino is also a safe havens for vegans or vegetarians traveling to Vegas, as Wynn himself became a vegan in 2010 and promptly instructed all of the restaurants on his properties to offer a variety of vegan dishes. So if you're traveling to Sin City with a carnivore, you can head to the Switch steakhouse in Encore and get the tofu carpaccio or the vegan meatloaf.
We're here to talk about the sportsbook, though, and the Wynn's book is its own animal. The operative term for this sportsbook is "boutique hotel". The Wynn's sportsbook is certainly smaller than the mammoth open spaces carved out by the Caesars Palace and The Mirage books, but it uses that space extremely well. This is, seat-for-seat, one of the most comfortable Sunday NFL experiences in the entire city.