LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Let March Madness begin!
The 2021 NCAA Tournament is officially underway, with the first of four play-in games tipping off just after 2 p.m. Thursday.
13 Action News checked in with three Las Vegas valley sportsbooks: Circa, Westgate and the Golden Circle Sportsbook at Treasure Island, to find out how they're keeping crowds of college basketball bettors safe.
All three made it clear that they're adhering to all CDC and state guidelines.
That means sportsbook capacities are capped at 50% right now in Nevada, with all guests required to wear masks whenever they're not actively eating or drinking.
Also, some sportsbooks have marked where bettors should stand in line while placing bets or cashing in tickets, while others are calling bettors up to the window one-by-one to make sure everyone is socially distancing.
All three sportsbooks agreed that consumer confidence is the key to Las Vegas making a full comeback to pre-pandemic tourism levels.
"There’s nothing like Vegas when it comes to March Madness, just the electricity in the air, it’s so different. You can go to a local spot and it doesn’t come close to the intensity that Vegas has. It doesn’t even come close. This is where it’s at right now," said Rene De Los Santos, who travels to Las Vegas from Texas every year with a group of friends to watch the NCAA Tournament.
"Vegas is doing a great job with requiring masks, requiring everything that needs to be done to keep everybody safe and it’s really, really appreciated. And so, Vegas has done an awesome job with that," said De Los Santos.
"We’re so excited that March Madness can return this year and we’re seeing the bigger crowds coming again. But, as it has been through the whole pandemic, the safety and health of our guests still remains our top priority," said Gordon Prouty, the vice president of public relations and community affairs for Westgate Las Vegas.
"We’re really excited about it and we’re encouraged about the advanced bookings. Everything’s gonna be safe. We’re following the rules. But, Westgate and Las Vegas are back," said Prouty.
"It’s extremely important to us here at the Treasure Island to be able to put on such a great tournament this year, even though we’re starting on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and ending on Monday for the first round," said Anthony Nevill, the director of race and sports at Golden Circle Sportsbook at Treasure Island.
"It’s a new experience for all of us and it signals the spring that's coming, as well as the change in the environment and the perception the world has about Las Vegas as the entertainment capital of the world. So, it’s a big, big, big experience," added Nevill.