By Mark Smith
Editor in Chief
It’s not Vegas.
But it might be pretty darn close.
Today (Sept. 19), Route 66 Casino Hotel is taking sports wagers for the first time and is ready to rock New Mexico.
Route 66, about 20 minutes west of Downtown Albuquerque on I-40, didn’t rush to put up temporary sports betting windows.
It went with a if-you-build-it, they-will-come philosophy.
It’s built. And the guess here is folks are going to come.
The 13,000-square-foot project cost $3.4 million. It features an outdoor area and has two floors.
“We’re ready to go, and we think we have, probably, the best venue in New Mexico,” said Tim Perkins, general manager of Route 66. “During the time when we were doing the design work, we traveled to a lot of the major sporting spots in the country and looked at sports bars. And we took the best things we liked from each one and put it into our venue.”
Stadium 66 replaces Route 66’s ENVY Nightlife club. It offers Class II gaming. which means the ticket window must be located just outside the area where alcohol is served.
But for the fact you have to walk a few feet away from your alcoholic beverage in order to place a bet, it really does have that Vegas feel.
“We’re not able to build a huge sportsbook like a Vegas operation, because there you can mix Class III gaming and betting with alcohol,” Perkins said. “You can’t do that here. So the next best thing is to build our sportsbook on the inside and move the sports betting on the outside.”
On the inside, a full service bar features a large menu of local craft beers as well as traditional favorites. There are daily drink specials.
The food is as good as it gets at a sports bar, with some of the best wood-stove pizzas in New Mexico.
But it’s the atmosphere that gives it the feel of a high-end Vegas sports lounge.
Stadium 66 has a multi-million dollar sound system and 74 HD TV screens.
“See those chairs at the bar,” Perkins said, “Just sit in one. Try finding more comfortable chairs anywhere.”
Not sure you can, Tim.
And I hope to be plopped down in one for many a game this season.
Mark Smith has worked in New Mexico sports media for more than four decades, and is one of the most decorated sports journalists in state history. Smith has won more than 30 combined awards in print, television and radio. He is the editor in chief of Enchantment Sports. Contact him at mark.enchantmentsportsNM@gmail.com.