It’s hard to believe sometimes how invisible the Premier League is in the United States. Right now, I’m at a Starbucks in the Luxor casino in Las Vegas, Nevada where I’ve been since Friday.
Despite Las Vegas having very modern and chic hotels, finding a TV set with Fox Soccer Channel and/or Setanta Sports is like trying to find the holy grail. Without those two channels, the EPL is invisible. The only other way to experience it is via the Internet and trying to find a wifi connection is also a challenge.
I didn’t get a chance to track down places to watch Saturday’s matches between Chelsea and West Ham, Wigan and Man City and Portsmouth versus Everton, but I wanted to find a place to see Aston Villa against Arsenal.
I searched through seven casinos looking for TV sets that were playing FSC or Setanta. Most of the major hotels have horse racing and sports bet areas where there’s a wall of 10-50 giant screen TVs allowing people to watch and bet on games. Here’s what I found in my search for Fox Soccer Channel and Setanta:
Out of the eight casinos I visited, only two of them show Fox Soccer Channel and Setanta Sports. That’s MGM Grand and Luxor. There were no FSC or Setanta at Tropicana, Excalibur, Mandalay Bay, Stratosphere, Sahara or Wynn.
At Luxor, I was able to watch Arsenal impressively beat Villa 2-1 with goals from Flamini and Adebayor. Each seat in the sports area had a personal TV so I was able to watch the Fox broadcast live while I also had the choice of watching the Coca Cola Championship match on Setanta if I wanted.
During half time, I walked up and asked a Luxor employee if I could bet on the soccer matches. She replied no but said I could watch as much of the games as I would like. Nice.
Looking around, most of the people watching the match were Brits on holiday sitting by themselves and seeming not that interested in the match.
On the Sunday, I visited the MGM Grand and sat down to watch Spurs against Birmingham City. The game kicked off at 8am local time and Fox was being displayed on about six of the flat-screen TVs on the wall.
The first half was extremely entertaining and I thought Spurs was unlucky to concede the penalty, but one-nil to Birmingham at the half was an impressive scoreline. A few minutes before the second half was set to return to Fox, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. All of the TV channels set to Fox changed channels to display horse racing. Horse racing?? I guess MGM has to make money after all.
After telling a English bloke next to me that MGM was a bunch of wankers for turning the match off, I stormed away in protest and met up with my wife at the slot machines.
After reading the match report later in the day, it sounds like I missed a fantastic and controversial second half. Just my luck.
One thing that is clearly evident is how massive the NFL is in this country. I knew it before, of course, but by walking past the sports bet areas in the different hotels on the Sunday afternoon, there were tons of people watching the matches (both for betting and sporting reasons).
That’s one thing I dislike. In my home, I can control the TV sets to play FSC and Setanta nearly 24/7. Away from home, I sometimes feel like it’s the 1980’s all over again where finding English football is an adventure. I’ll be in Vegas until Friday on business. It should be an interesting adventure trying to keep on top of the soccer news and coverage!