Updated September 11, 2020 - 7:12 pm
In years past, bettors would stake out coveted seats at the Westgate sportsbook in the wee hours of the morning before the NCAA Tournament.
In this unprecedented year of 2020, bettors will probably need to stake out seats at the Westgate International Theater early NFL Sunday to attend the Football Central free viewing party.
For social distancing purposes, only 50 guests will be allowed in the 1,500-seat theater, which normally attracts 1,200 people on the first NFL Sunday of the season.
“We tried and we tried and we tried, but they won’t approve any more than 50 guests for the theater,” Westgate sportsbook vice president Jay Kornegay said. “People are going to have to get there early.
“We’re draping it off, and only the front sections will be utilized because of social distancing. Those types of venues are limited to 50 people, and there’s no way around that.”
The Westgate removed 60 percent of the seating in the sportsbook to address social distancing when it reopened in June. Kornegay said the book is limited to 50 percent of its capacity crowd.
“We will be monitoring the number of patrons in the sportsbook and pretty much eliminating standing room-only areas,” he said. “To enforce social distancing, we have to keep the standing room-only crowd moving.”
To accommodate more people, the Westgate is adding two new NFL viewing areas at The International Bar and Sid’s Cafe. Each area will be limited to 50 people. There will be 12 screens at the bar and nine screens in the restaurant.
“We know how popular football is, and we’re doing our best to take care of our guests,” Kornegay said.
The South Point also is adding another NFL viewing area in the casino, in addition to the sportsbook, that can accommodate 50 guests.
“We’re doing our best to spread people out,” South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews said. “We’ve got some good social distancing with the seats and the way we’re getting people to line up.”
To adhere to state and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, customers at all Las Vegas books are required to wear a mask and follow social distancing.
“With the launch of the NFL season, we anticipate a larger volume of customers and have accounted for extra staffing to ensure our guests and employees remain safe while betting and watching the games,” William Hill spokesperson Adrienne Prather-Marcos said in an email.