Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology



First Committee Member

Robert Futrell, Chair

Second Committee Member

Bo Bernhard

Third Committee Member

Andrea Fontana

Graduate Faculty Representative

David Schwartz

Number of Pages



This ethnography of the La Mesa Casino Sports Book explores the characteristics that frame the social world its regular patrons create. Specifically, I explain the characteristics of La Mesa’s sports bettors, the types of people who bet on sports, the mechanisms used to sustain participation in the scene, and how the sports bettors view themselves, their social world, and those outside of it. I argue that regular sports book patrons do not use the environment simply for sports betting. Rather, their complex interactional dynamics create a robust social world they come back to again and again to create a meaningful social world or community. My observations reveal the existence of a hierarchal order among bettors; they abide by both formal rules of conduct regulated by the casino and informal rules of conduct that are governed by La Mesa regulars. Regulars participate in ritualistic behavior, develop social bonds with like patrons, and combine different styles of expression and interaction to create a male-dominated home away from home. More broadly, Las Mesa regulars create a sense of community in the sports book. One implication is that we may have to look in seemingly unusual places to understand how and where community is created. In Las Vegas, the sports book is one such unusual space for camaraderie, social cohesion, and community.


Casinos – Social aspects; Communities; Community; Gambling – Social aspects; Gamblers; Male; Nevada – Las Vegas; Sports betting – Social aspects; Third place; Wagers


Community-Based Learning | Gaming and Casino Operations Management | Social Psychology | Sociology

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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