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Most of the larger hotels in Las Vegas have sports-book operations, which look a lot like commodities-futures trading boards. In some, almost as large as theaters, you can sit comfortably, occasionally in recliners, and sometimes with your own video screen, and watch ball games, fights, and, at some casinos, horse races on huge TV screens. To add to your enjoyment, there’s usually a deli/bar nearby that serves sandwiches, hot dogs, soft drinks, and beer. As a matter of fact, some of the best sandwiches in Las Vegas are served next to the sports books. Sports books take bets on virtually every sport (and not just who’ll win, but what the final score will be, who’ll be first to hit a home run, who’ll be MVP, who’ll wear red shoes, you name it). They are best during important playoff games or big horse races, when everyone in the place is watching the same event—shrieking, shouting, and moaning, sometimes in unison. Joining in with a cheap bet (so you feel like you, too, have a personal stake in the matter) makes for bargain entertainment.

Speaking of the future, in early 2010, the Nevada Gaming Commission approved rules that would allow casino sports books to take wagers on the outcomes of nonsporting events such as the Academy Awards, American Idol, and even presidential elections. In the past, you couldn’t bet on these types of events because in many of them the outcome is known by someone before the results are announced (those Oscar accountants get all the luck!) or there was too high a risk that the outcomes could be influenced. At press time, no major casino in Vegas was offering these types of wagers because of all of the restrictions the commission put on them to guard against the concerns that made them illegal before, but it is only a matter of time—the casinos smell big money here and they’ll figure out a way to make it work. So who do you think is going to win Dancing With the Stars? Wanna bet?

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.