March Madness brings ballrooms into play

Mar 22, 2009 5:57 PM
by Mark Mayer |

Major events in Las Vegas bring ballrooms into play. Planet Hollywood (pictured) was among several resorts using the popularity of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament to up the struggling ante in our economic recession.

"Events like March Madness are what Planet Hollywood lives for," said David Snock, the race and sports manager at Planet Hollywood since the book opened in 2007. "Planet Hollywood was built for the big events like the Super Bowl, March Madness and the Kentucky Derby. We have everything resort that caters to tourists can offer. We are the place to party."

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The mezzanine ballroom an escalator up from the casino can hold around 1,000 people and will be equipped with five betting stations, numerous big-screen TV’s, a VIP area and food and beverages throughout the tournament.

"It’s our guest services that make us a player on the Strip," said Snock, a Philadelphia product who became interested in the sports betting business through a local newspaper article about famed Vegas linesmaker Roxy Roxborough. "People don’t come here because we are bigger. They come because we treat them better."

Snock first came over to Planet Hollywood five years ago when the resort was still known as the Aladdin. It wasn’t easy at first with the race and sports book moved twice, while construction in progress. But now Snock has things in order and with an emphasis on the race side of the business.

"Sports betting is the glamour part, but horse racing is what butters our bread," Snock said. "Some books cater to the sports side, but the hold is from 4 to 8 percent. When you hold 12 percent in race betting like we do here, why not go after it?"

But even horse racing hold can accommodate the passion of March Madness. "It’s really incredible the energy this event brings to the book," Snock said. "Whether you are in our book or want to be a part of the big crowd in our ballroom, there is no better place to be for our guests or me."

The Las Vegas Hilton for years has opened up its giant ballroom for March Madness and the Super Bowl. The Suncoast has been advertising its large ballroom for the tourney and the Sahara has been boasting that its NASCAR Café "is not just for NASCAR" by holding March Madness parties that included a local radio station promotion.