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To show just how meaningful the NCAA Tournament is to Las Vegas sports books, all you have to do is look at all the contests being offered at several of the casinos.

A sports book marketing budget generally is spread across the year with about 80% going toward the football season and the other 20% spent for March Madness.

The tournament grabs bettors’ attention like only football can, and in order for most books to funnel the majority of the bets their way, contests with all entries fees returned or huge overlays are the way to do it.

Station Casinos is once again going with their popular Last Man Standing contest that paid out over $41,000 to one winner last season. This year Station is guaranteeing $40,000 no matter how many entries are taken, up from the $25,000 guaranteed last year.

The entry fee is $25 and if you buy four, you get one free. All you have to do is pick one winner a day against the spread. If your entry is the last one standing, you win.

Station sports books are also enticing guests with value for the month by offering $1 Budweisers and hot dogs on days the tournament is being played. The combination of getting that value as well as watching the games in any of their beautiful books make it a hard deal to pass up.

Another local favorite, Coast Resorts, has a deal that is hard to pass up as well. In addition to having a great viewing experience for all the games, they are offering a free contest that pays one winner $10,000 at the end of the contest.

One hundred contestants will get paid in this no points contest that pays a total of $16,000. The best thing about it may be that it is done out of their convenient kiosk. The only thing required is that you have one of their players card.

It’s free money out there waiting to be taken. All you have to do is get there and pick some winners.

If you are playing the contest at the Orleans, they also have a deal that could win you more cash just by making your bets there. Every $50 bet gets you a drawing ticket to win up to $10,000, which they’ll be doing the first four days of the tournament.

If you’re going to make bets, you might as well enter this contest and get your chance at free money.

Lucky’s sports books will be running their contest for the second consecutive year with $6,000 guaranteed for a $10 entry fee. There is also a bonus of $1,000 for whoever has the best record during the first four days of the tournament.

Leroy’s sports books have their “Three ‘n Out” contest running again for a $25 entry fee with all entry fees returned as prize money. The only way you can lose is to lose three times during the tournament picking one game a day against the spread. The deadline for entry is March 5 at 5 p.m.

The Las Vegas Hilton Super Book is another great place to watch the games in their Hoops Central Showroom and brand new Fan Cave. The best thing about it is that you’re in an environment kind of like being at an arena with all the ooh’s and ahh’s on every play that help give the tournament a life of it’s own.

At Jerry’s Nugget, starting Tuesday, Hoops Madness parlay cards hit the counter. Play $20 on either the Hoops Madness parlay card or the Hoops Madness teaser card to receive a free Jerry’s Nugget souvenir Yard Glass. Guests can then take the glass to the Main Bar and fill it up with draft or soda for only $1.

Jerry’s Nugget sports book will be showing all of the tournament games starting with the opening tip Thursday. Guests can come in early, grab a great seat, and watch all the action throughout the sports book. As an added bonus, drawings for Basketball Gift Buckets will be held throughout the first four days of the tournament (Thursday through Sunday) courtesy of Corona Beer and Budweiser.

“The first four days of the tournament are among the most exciting four days of the sporting year,” said Mark Dufty, Jerry’s Nugget race and sports director. “From the opening tip off until Sunday’s final buzzer, the field is whittled from 64 to the Sweet 16 and the pretenders go home and the Cinderella’s emerge!”

UNLV 200-1 to title

The updated Tournament odds at the Hilton have top seed Ohio State as the 7-2 favorites followed by Duke 9-2, Kansas 5-1, and Pittsburgh 8-1.

After those four, the next in line is San Diego State at 12-1 and North Carolina at 15-1. After doing my brackets early on, I kept having Michigan State making it to the Final Four and they are currently 100-1.

If anyone believes in UNLV getting past Illinois, and then Kansas in the next round, the Rebels are 200-1 to win it all.

Along with Michigan State, I have Ohio State, Kansas and San Diego State making the Final Four in my bracket. It’s not exactly going out on a limb, but I do have Utah State, Gonzaga and Richmond all making the Sweet 16. 


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