By Kit Kiefer
The amazingness of fantasy sports continues to amaze. First, according to the fantasy-sports trade association – and isn’t it amazing that fantasy sports have their own trade association? – an amazing 56 million people will play fantasy football this year. While many of them are going to be like our buddy Josh, who failed to show up for the draft and then let his auto-drafted lineup roll all season long, many more are going to approach this most pretend of all pretend games very, very seriously. And many of those people are going to hold their fantasy draft in Las Vegas.
Las Vegas is the perfect place to hold a fantasy draft because it’s Fantasyville 24/7/365. Vegas is also perfect because it’s the epicenter of quasi-legal sports gambling, which fantasy sports absolutely are. (When we launched Fantasy Sports magazine almost 25 years ago there was a great hue and cry from the NFL et al. about the blatant illegality of fantasy sports, which we took to mean that the leagues weren’t getting their piece. Once that was fixed, the NFL started running fantasy-football ads. That’s professional sports for ya.)
In typical Vegas fashion, while everywhere is perfect for a fantasy draft, some places are perfecter than others. Here are some of the prime spots to hold your fantasy draft – and since Vegas is the ultimate spur-of-the-moment location, you can have this trip up and running in no time.
Hard Rock Hotel Casino: The Hard Rock will be holding its second-annual “Ultimate Fantasy Football Draft Party” this Saturday in conjunction with Yahoo Sports. If you miss it you’ll miss a whole lot a whole lot of extraneous Yahoo banners, which are actually repurposed Netscape banners, plus personal appearances by Randall Cunningham, Jim Kelly, and Maurice Jones-Drew, who will discuss what it feels like to not win a Super Bowl. It actually will be an electric time, and registration is free, so what are you waiting for?
Aria Sports Book: The Aria gives you a couple of ways to play: indoors, at our favorite Vegas sports book; in a suite; or poolside, in a cabana. The direction you choose may be a function of the way your league rolls. The hardcore types will want the draft at the sports book for the environment and the up-to-the-minute bulletins on the bum ankle of the Jaguars’ No. 4 receiver; the heavy eaters will prefer the suites; and the experiential types will want to go poolside. Us? We’re experiential.
The D: The D (the “D” standing for downtown Las Vegas) promises a “man-cave setup,” though we’ll take ours with a side of Febreze, thanks. It also promises private rooms with draft boards, big-screen TVs, beer-pong tables, burgers and dogs from American Coney Island, and two-to-three-night packages. There are also optional golf packages available, as well as limo transport. Not your average draft at BW3s, in other words.
Lagasse’s Stadium at the Palazzo: So Emeril Lagasse has a sports bar … in Vegas … that used to be Jay-Z’s place. Only in Vegas. The upshot is that Lagasse’s Stadium is one of the very best places in the city to hold a fantasy draft. The sports book is definitely a sports book, but a classier model (and very high-tech), and that’s in addition to the VIP rooms, more full bars than you’ve had hot meals, and speaking of hot meals, you’ve got a world-famous chef delivering the eats. This is it, brother.
MGM Grand Sports Book: Now we’re starting to get into the serious sports books, the places you go to have a draft because you want to feel like you’re in the epicenter of the epicenter of the quasi-legal sports-wagering industry. The MGM Grand is a little long in the tooth as sports books go, but the skyboxes are an incredible experience for the hardcore sports fan/fantasy gamer. They overlook the book floor and are sort of like sitting in the gallery in the U.S. Senate – if they served the world’s best buffalo wings and let you take the over/under on filibusters.
Caesars Palace: This is another old-school sports book that makes you feel that more is on the line than just your share of a $200 pot. If you want to do the indoor thing, the private suites cover every fantasy-football need, from beer to big-screens, but the better bet is the Venus Pool Club, with poolside cabanas with big-screens, a draft board, and your own draft hostess. And if you ask nice you may even get the hourly Evian spritz-downs. Only in Vegas, baby. Only in Vegas.
Kit Kiefer is the founding editor of Fantasy Sports magazine.
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