Madder, leaner, Vegas

Since it’s Thursday, I’ve got a new Green Felt Journal for you to read in Vegas Seven magazine. This week, I talk about March Madness on the Strip:

The basketball-mad crowd covers all ages, from cigar-chomping sharp bettors in their 60s to still-in-school rowdies wearing their college colors. It skews young, however, with 20- to 30-somethings dominating in most casinos. The audience in most sports books is about 97 percent male.

The NCAA Tournament, particularly the first weekend, has become an unofficial cross-country college reunion getaway. Although many fans have moved on from the frat house or dorm television lounge and might live thousands of miles apart, they return to Las Vegas in groups of varying sizes each spring to watch the games, drink beer and enjoy what’s become the ultimate guy trip.

The tournament has become one of the biggest draws in town. While it’s impossible to directly assess its total economic impact (no one fills out a survey saying they came to town for the games), it’s acknowledged as a huge draw.

via March Madness offers peek at leaner Vegas vacation | Vegas Seven.

I used the word “crowd” three times in the story, and might have used it more, because gathering information for this story really brought to mind Charles Mackay’s Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. Not that I’m saying that the guys betting on March Madness are deluded, but it is March “Madness,” and there are big crowds, so I guess my brain filled in the blanks.

And there was something very compelling, but very exhausting, about the atmosphere in the books. I can’t see how anyone has enough energy to do anything but crash for 12 hours, beer and other depressants of choice notwithstanding, after a day of March Madness Vegas action. It must be all the oxygen they pump into the casino.

That last sentence, my friends, is the closest I’m getting to an April Fool’s joke this year.

Author: Dave

Director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and author of several books, including Roll the Bones: The History of Gaming. Also Gaming and Hospitality editor for Vegas Seven magazine.

7 thoughts on “Madder, leaner, Vegas”

  1. Haaa. My AFD joke craving was duly satisfied by Google and Topeka changing places. Kansas is just funny, casino licenses or no.

  2. Ah,… Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds. I recall having read that when I was 12 or something. South Sea Bubble or Tulip Mania or something like that. At the time of the tulip craze I think the most highly respected worker was a barrel maker and a tulip bulb went for more than he would earn in a year. I recall something in that book about a sailor who thought he was eating an onion but had consumed instead a tulip bulb which would have paid the costs to have operated his ship for a decade. And this madness took place in what was then the center of trade and commerce.

    March Madness. I’ve heard its a big money maker with lots of weird action that can turn out to be profitable. I have never analyzed just what it is. If its also a re-union for drunken frat rats that would be a bit of a turnoff, though the financial aspects would still remain of interest.

    Topeka and Google. I noticed things looked a bit different. All the vowels disappeared in the text of the page too. Didn’t realize it was an April Fools joke. I’m on my fourth cup of coffee now though.

  3. That’s a good article for someone like me to read, since I’ve never actually understood what March Madness is or how it works. My knowledge of sports betting is zero. But I like anything that causes people to get wild and crazy.

    About that tulip-crazy craze. I first read about that in ‘Roll the Bones’. I like weird manias like that, where people go bonkers over things – whether it’s Cabbage Patch Dolls, Hula Hoops or even the Jonas Brothers. Fanatical fans, crazy crazes and new fads add spice to life. Althought the recent ‘real estate expansion and home buying craze’ got out of hand and caused some big problems.

    Still. Madness does have its place in society. We all need to go nuts over something now and then. Just to prove we are human.

  4. The first four days of the NCAA Tournament there is a total of 48 games you can bet on: 16 games each on Thursday and Friday and 8 each games on Saturday and Sunday. There is plenty of games to choose from so even a novice gambler can usually find a couple of games to bet on.

  5. Part of the reason college basketball’s NCAA tournament is so popular with college students is because they have their “spring break” vacation during this time in the middle of March. Unfortunately for Las Vegas the majority of college students do not have a lot of money so they don’t spend as much money as typical tourists.

  6. College males in search of broads and having to settle for bets and beer may make for a hectic few days but Vegas always has been a town to focus on the bottom line. The highly athletic and competitive frat rats are not without sufficient funds to be of great interest to the casinos.
    I think the main advantage of the March Madness is that with all the various options a parlayed bet can turn out to be a big winner even though its a real longshot.

  7. One good thing about low-budget,frat-age guys coming to Las Vegas is that they nearly always come back, thru the years, with more money in their pockets. The payoff for Las Vegas comes eventually. I say “treat them well and they’ll always remember you and your casino”.

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