[b] Things in casinos really started changing heavily about five years ago. Hotel-casino operators began to quickly close parts of the property that weren’t generating revenue. Everything from the small segments of slot machines to the biggest shows was on the chopping block.

Sportsbooks are always near the bottom of gaming revenue in Las Vegas. Believe it or not, sports wagering only generates about 1-2 percent of overall gaming revenue in the state of Nevada.

Gaming revenue makes up the majority of revenue for casinos. Gaming revenue is closer to 35-40 percent of overall revenue for the Vegas Strip hotel-casinos. Poker rooms generate slightly less revenue and with their recent history, it was possible that we would be saying goodbye to the sportsbook.

In the past couple of years, 10 poker rooms have closed and another handful of hotel casinos like SLS and Cosmopolitan have opened without one. There’s only so much revenue that a casino can pull from a small room that has only the rake (commission) from each game for revenue.

Meanwhile our beloved sportsbooks began changing and hasn’t entirely disappeared. For a time it looked as though the book would go away like the poker room. Thankfully, that hasn’t been the case. But the sportsbook is changing.

Sports betting fans and supporters remember the beginning of the casino business when the sportsbook was an amenity meant to keep gamblers in the casino. The gamblers would lose money at blackjack and place a bet on a game but they wouldn’t leave while the wager was live. After resolving the sports wager the gambler might head back into the casino or to a restaurant for a meal.

A few years ago hotel-casino operators began downsizing existing books so that they could maximize the space on the casino floor to make the most money. Sport betting kiosks popped up at The Palazzo and Palms and it was easy to imagine that this might be the future of the sportsbook. Technically to wager on sports all you really need is a place to make the wager.

Whatever the size of the sportsbook, it seems as though it’s being looked at as an amenity again. That being said, the book is just not an amenity for everyone.

Back in the beginning of football season, A favorite sports book on the Vegas Strip, The Venetian, squeezing out the common folk during football games and saving the close comfy chairs for their bigger bettors.

The business must cater to their best customers. or just in the sportsbook to enjoy their sweet TV screens. The low rollers could stand or sit in the bar at the back of the book.

Recently Caesars Palace renovated their sportsbook. Most of the seats during football games are reserved for their high rollers - Diamond and Seven Star level gamblers. The majority of people now have to watch from the bar. The book is shifting from an amenity for all gamblers to an amenity for high rollers.

At the same time sports bars and restaurants are opening at just about every hotel-casino. These spaces were made for the non-high rollers to watch the sports. If the operators aren’t going to make big bucks from us gambling, they’re going to extract money by offering the games with food and drink.

The busy sportsbooks are still open to everyone for 98 percent of the year but the busiest days they’ll be held as an amenity for the high rollers. There are still books that are entirely free and that’s great. Let’s understand that some the operators want to offer something special to their best customers and that’s their right. It’s also our right to take our business elsewhere.

At least the new sports bar and restaurants include lots of brand new TVs. I don’t mind paying a few bucks to watch the games during the busy times of the year. Just make sure you choose an environment you want to be in, whether it’s a restaurant with good food and beer or a free sportsbook.

Las Vegas is constantly changing. It will be interesting to see how far and wide this current trend in the sportsbook extends [/b]