When it comes to big events in Vegas, there might not be a busier two-week stretch than the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, also dubbed March Madness. With the pandemic affecting both the tournament and Las Vegas over the past two years, the annual event might see its biggest year yet. Combine the higher-than-ever interest in sports betting and what seems like a full return to pre-pandemic occupancy, and it’s a perfect storm of excitement in Vegas for March Madness in 2022.
For anyone either visiting town or heading to the Strip for viewing, there are a number of different ways to approach the tournament, which tends to have more action during the first week due to the sheer number of games that take place. On the first days of the tournament, all 64 teams play their first games, meaning 16 games per day beginning early in the morning and ending late at night. It’s basically a sports fan’s (and bettor’s) dream, and there’s really nothing more fun than watching it with a big crowd (or at least a room of like-minded basketball enthusiasts).
Of course, Vegas casinos, restaurants, sports bars, and other venues have tried their best to capitalize on this, with dozens of events across the city. This guide is a handy way of breaking down all the various events, from the big-ticket, all-day affairs that happen in the big resort ballrooms to smaller but still excellent venues set up for maximum college basketball viewing. Just know that not all events will be listed here, usually because they’re already close to sold out, though there are other places to get laundry lists of viewing parties. Here now, the Eater Vegas guide to March Madness 2022.
The March Madness in Vegas Experience
Of course one of the best and most obvious places to watch March Madness in sports books, parts of Vegas resorts that have exploded in size and popularity in recent years. However, because most of the seats are first-come, first-served, the most avid fans will show up hours before tip-off of the first game. In addition, other than some beefed-up food and drink options, a lot of the eating and drinking at sports books will be unimaginative. Still, the energy at sports books is going to be excellent if you’re only going to catch a game or two and don’t mind standing around.
Like anywhere in America, sports bars are going to be a terrific place to watch March Madness games. Narrow from this map of sports bars on and off the Strip, and check each location’s website or social media to see minimum spends or make table reservations.
Free Viewing Parties
A small number of resorts open up ballrooms with massive viewing screens and ample seating, though these are usually first-come, first-served as well, with doors opening very early each morning. The advantages of these are that casinos will often set up temporary betting stations, along with special food and drinks to purchase a la carte. These are good options if you’re watching and betting on a budget.
Paid Viewing Parties
These are the reasons why you’re here for March Madness in Vegas. The biggest viewing parties, like at Cosmopolitan, Circa’s Stadium Swim, Westgate, or March Mania at Plaza, have all the energy you could want, plus specialized all-you-can-eat or drink deals, or at the least, special menus with minimum spends per person. A lot of these larger paid viewing parties offer good packages for groups, though the per-person spend can go well above $300 for more cordoned-off areas like cabanas or “man caves.”
The Big Viewing Parties
Hoops and Hops at Cosmopolitan
One of the best overall paid viewing parties in Vegas, with a hefty $300 per day fee to match that has dozens of projectors in virtually every direction inside the massive ballroom. This includes an open bar of well liquors, beer, soft drinks, and more. You can reserve private sofas and tables for more money. You can buy food and drinks on-site, most of which are pretty tasty, though you can also buy food from any Cosmopolitan restaurant and eat inside the venue. The ticket also includes entrance to Marquee nightclub.
Circa Stadium Swim
The entire Downtown Vegas resort of Circa has positioned itself as a destination for sports betting and viewing. The pool has one of the biggest screens anywhere and is great for those who like to sit around in their swimsuits while watching college basketball. Options here run the gamut of general admission to day beds, poolside boxes, and cabanas. Basic admission is $100 but cabanas cost $3,500 minimum spend with room for up to 10 people. Expect Circa to be inundated with like-minded sports fans.
Azilo Pool at Sahara
With a similar environment to Circa, the Sahara’s pool will have a 240-foot screen, betting stations, cocktails, and sports-friendly food. Basic entrance with open bar is $125 plus fees and tax while the premium open bar is about twice that.
Hoops Mania at Ellis Island
A half-day at this off-Strip gem’s Front Yard restaurant is $175 and $325 for a full day which includes a seat, unlimited food, and access to the open bar (craft beers and a few cocktails). This is a good option if you plan to take just half the day’s games and want to do something else.
Treasure Island has a ton of places to watch March Madness games, but the big one is in the ballroom, with no cover and first-come seating. There are drinks and food you can buy everywhere, with doors open at 7:30 p.m.; a great option if you’re willing to start early. Otherwise, there are no cover viewing events at Golden Circle sports book and bar and Gilley’s.
Westgate Hoops Central
One of the most legendary places in Vegas to soak in March Madness, this enormous theater offers reserved seating at just $40 apiece with doors open at 8 p.m. Of course, there will be massive screens to watch the games with 1,500 other fans, with on-site betting, drinks, and food available a la carte. A great option if you don’t want to break the bank but still have the big viewing party experience. As of publication, there are still a few tickets available for this one, though a lot of the prime lower-level seats are already booked, so act fast.
HyperX Esports Arena
It might feel somewhat ironic that an Esports arena inside Luxor is being used to host a viewing party for real sports, but also, why not? With a massive LED screen in the middle of arena, a la carte food and drinks, and a reasonable $100 ticket that comes with five drink tickets, this is another mid-priced option for March Madness. However, there is a catch. You book the tickets based on a table of four people, so the real buy-in is something closer to $400. Tickets are mostly sold out on March 17, the first full day of the tournament, but other days are more available at time of publication.
The D March Hoops Viewing Party
This is another big no-cover viewings in Downtown Vegas but the real draw are the private “mancaves” that come with, well, a lot: $300 per person (minimum eight people) or either a morning or afternoon/evening session, or $500 per person for an all-day situation, each of the private suites comes with four TVs, unlimited food and beverage, couches, a dedicated cocktail server, WiFi, and even a $25 match play at the casino. It’s not cheap, but it’s a good way to just go all-in on the experience instead of paying piecemeal.
Clique Cocktail Lounge
This centrally located cocktail lounge inside the Cosmopolitan is a more manageable kind of March Madness viewing, though tables start with $500 each for up to four people, and only go for either a morning or afternoon session. If you want to be there all day, it’s going to be at least $1,000, though there’s bar seating and high-top seats for $250 a person. A decent option if the more popular viewings are already sold out, with 10 TVs and a more upscale vibe overall.
Electra Cocktail Club at Venetian Resort
This cocktail hangout in the Venetian Resort Las Vegas is another sports book-adjacent club-like atmosphere that works for last-minute March Madness people. Electra will have a huge screen against an entire wall, with table packages that include one bottle of whiskey, vodka, or tequila, a bucket of beers, Red Bulls, Fiji water, and a box of bites from David Chang’s Moon Palace.
Montecristo Cigar Bar
Already one of Vegas’s best places to watch sports, this cigar and cocktail bar inside Caesars is a more reasonable-sized viewing party, especially for those who want to enjoy cigars and high-quality drinks with their basketball games. Right now there’s a smattering of reservations available across the bar priced around $250 a person and up, though that comes with a $250 beverage credit per table (and doesn’t come with cigars, which you can buy in the bar’s very nice humidor).
Stadia at Caesars Palace
Not the biggest sports venue on the Strip, but that might work in Stadia’s favor. There’s a full kitchen and bar here (which means the cocktails are gonna be better than the open bar situations at bigger venues), with a modest $151 per table minimum (for two people) or $277 for four people, though that includes a $100 and $200 respective beverage credit. And, of course, since this is a regular sports bar, there are TVs in virtually every direction.