The quintessential Las Vegas Strip megaresort, the MGM Grand is a massive hotel and casino that dominates the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue, one of the city’s premier addresses. The MGM Grand has more than 6,800 hotel rooms and suites, including the main building, the Mansion at MGM Grand and the Signature at MGM Grand. It attracts a wildly diverse crowd including tourists from all over the world, business travelers and convention-goers.
Sportsbook relevance (8 out of 10)
The MGM Grand race and sportsbook, covering 5,300 square feet, is nestled into the southwest corner of the huge resort, not far from the pedestrian bridge to New York-New York across Las Vegas Boulevard. Its amenities are clean, sleek and modern, though the space can feel cramped and sizeable lines can develop on big sports days.
The Stage Deli adjacent to the race and sportsbook complex offers tasty deli fare along with Krispy Kreme doughnuts ($7.99 a dozen).
The MGM Grand sportsbook belongs to the MGM Resorts International group, with Vice President of Race and Sports Jay Rood in charge.
The MGM Grand sportsbook staff members are friendly, capable and workmanlike. Elsewhere in the resort, service tends to be adequate but impersonal. Cocktail service is generally attentive and efficient, especially when you consider the immense size of the casino.
Watch out for tip-hustling by greeters and maitre d’s at some of the resort’s restaurants, particularly those along the Studio Walk promenade.
The “Bags to Go” service allows guests on certain flights to check their luggage right at the hotel before departing for the airport.
The sportsbook has a contemporary feel with state-of-the-art décor, high ceilings, six electronic display boards for up-to-date betting odds and attractive artwork on the walls depicting great moments in horse racing and other sports.
The book features three jumbo TV screens measuring 16 feet by 12 feet along with 60 smaller TVs with 42-inch or 60-inch plasma screens. Individual seats, which are fairly comfortable if not quite luxurious, are available for more than 100 guests, with a cushioned bench running along the back wall providing additional seating.
Four second-level skyboxes, ranging from 300 to 325 square feet in size, are available for VIPs.
The crowd in the book has a distinct touristy flavor, with casual bettors, die-hard fans of various teams and beer guzzlers far outnumbering local sports betting grinders. Especially on an Ultimate Fighting Championship night, the crowd tends to be young and lively rather than older and more reserved.
The Race & Sports Turf Bar at the rear of the book area features standard cocktails as well as some special attractions such as Dos Equis and Stella Artois on tap. Restrooms are conveniently located just around the corner from the race book side of the room.
Betting options (8)
The MGM Grand sportsbook offers a strong selection of betting options overall. Lines are available on all major sports with a solid selection of odds on auto racing, golf, boxing and mixed martial arts on the board. First-five-inning lines and alternate run lines are offered on baseball games. The book hangs season-win totals for all NFL teams and about 30 major college football teams, employing a fair 20-cent line on those propositions.
Future-book wagering is offered on major sports, but you’re not likely to find much value in futures odds here. To pick just one example, in July 2012 the theoretical house hold percentage on the odds to win the 2012-13 NFC title was a high 51 percent at the MGM Grand.
Limits vary by sport but they rank among the most competitive in Las Vegas, going well into five figures on football sides.
Boys weekend (9)
The MGM Grand is a good choice for a trip with the homies, especially if you’re building a weekend around a big fight card (UFC or boxing), hockey game (Los Angeles Kings in the preseason “Frozen Fury” exhibition) or concert (Jimmy Buffett, Eagles) at the onsite Grand Garden Arena.
The expansive pool complex includes cabanas, poolside dining, waterfalls and a lazy river.
A Davidoff store just off the casino floor offers fine cigars and tobacco accessories.
The Zuri Bar (open 24 hours) and Centrifuge are ideal spots to kick off a night of partying, with the West Wing Bar and Rouge serving as good destinations for a relaxing nightcap.
The MGM does fall short in the area of late-night dining. Often the only full-service restaurant open “after hours” in the resort is the Studio Café, which can be hit and miss.
Girlfriend/wife weekend (7.5)
As long as you are OK with the big megaresort experience as opposed to a boutique hotel atmosphere, the MGM Grand can be an excellent choice for a romantic getaway.
The resort’s selection of restaurants is one of the finest in Las Vegas, or virtually anywhere else for that matter. Joel Robuchon Restaurant, L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon and Craftsteak have the upscale fine dining scene covered, with outstanding eateries such as Nobhill Tavern, Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House, Seablue, Fiamma, Diego and Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill, among others, also on the property. If you’re visiting from an area that has seen fit to ban foie gras, you’ll appreciate the seared foie gras appetizer at Nobhill ($26 and worth it).
Shopping leans toward the fun and informal rather than the ultra-luxurious, with a popular candy store, a magic shop, a Harley-Davidson boutique and a Rainforest Café retail store among the options.