Las Vegas, home to more than 150 casinos, is the gambling capital of America. But when it comes to playing host to Super Bowl LVIII next Feb. 11, the powers that be in the dice-rolling, slot-spinning, 24/7 party town in the desert are leaving nothing to chance.
“We are very cognizant that we have one opportunity to get the first Super Bowl in Las Vegas right,” said Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) President and CEO Steve Hill at the kickoff press conference the day after this year’s Super Bowl in Phoenix.
Vegas has been preparing for this since long before it was even announced that the city would host the NFL’s 2024 title game, and some local businesses started planning for it in earnest last year, but April — 10 months out from the game — is when the city will take it to the next level. The Las Vegas Super Bowl Host Committee has a $55 million budget to work with and next month will begin recruiting the 9,000 volunteers it needs to make everything run smoothly.
The Super Bowl may be 11 months away, but in Las Vegas, it has everyone’s attention, both inside and outside the gambling industry.
“People are talking about it all the time around here,” said Anthony Curtis, publisher for the last 40 years of the Las Vegas Advisor. “It’s a very hot topic. As soon as this year’s Super Bowl ended, the countdown was on.
“The lid is off, and there’s only one reason it’s not off even further, and that’s Formula One coming to Vegas in November and stealing a lot of that thunder. It’s not as big as the Super Bowl, but it’s in the neighborhood. Still, the Super Bowl will ultimately end up stomping all over Formula One in terms of PR around here, especially once we get past Thanksgiving, when we’re beyond the first Formula One race.”
Of bets and beds
Mobile sports betting continues to expand rapidly across the U.S., but Nevada remains the king of retail betting — and that is expected to be especially apparent when the Super Bowl comes to Allegiant Stadium, just off the Las Vegas Strip.
MGM Resorts International owns nine casinos on the Strip, and Lamarr Mitchell, the company’s director of trading, is anticipating “record-breaking numbers” across its sportsbooks.
“The fact the Big Game will be in our backyard,” Mitchell told US Bets, “we anticipate this being the largest betting day and weekend in the state’s sports betting history.”
The wagering at the windows isn’t the only place the numbers will be skyrocketing on Super Bowl weekend. Hotel room rates for the 10-14 days surrounding the Super Bowl are, as Las Vegas Advisor wrote in January, “expected to be the highest in Las Vegas history.”
A quick search bears that out. With the Super Bowl coming to town, the long snappers must be setting these prices, because they’ve been seriously hiked.
ParkMGM was recently listed at $10,000 per night on Super Bowl weekend, and the latest search shows nothing available. But for the Monday after the game, rooms are a perfectly normal $199, followed by $90 that Tuesday.
Not all properties are as pricey as that one, but everything on the Strip is substantially inflated. Nearly every hotel requires at least a three-night minimum, and three nights at Mandalay Bay starts at $1,800 total, three nights at the Delano starts at $2,025, and three nights at Wynn Las Vegas starts at $2,850.
Getting away from the casino-hotel scene, the Residence Inn Las Vegas Airport is priced no cheaper than $2,500 total for the minimum three nights.
Those looking for something resembling affordability will need to turn their gaze to a spot like Sunset Station in Henderson, where the rooms are “only” $320 a night.
And those waiting it out, hoping the prices drop, are probably making a mistake.
“The room rates are fluid, and if anything, I’ll bet the prices go up rather than down,” said Curtis. “If the supply begins to dwindle, they’ll start packing on higher prices yet.”
Half a billion bucks coming in
While the Vegas Super Bowl promises to be expensive for visitors (and likely to attract the coveted gambling “whales”), the city’s expectation is that the influx of dollars will benefit those who live and work there.
As LVCVA Senior Vice President of Communications Lori Nelson-Kraft told KTNV Las Vegas recently, “The Super Bowl game itself will take place at Allegiant Stadium, but the weeklong events … will take place throughout the Strip, downtown, and even in our local communities.”
The LVCVA projects a local economic impact of $500 million through direct spending, additional taxes, and job creation.
While the accuracy of a number like that can be easily called into the question, in more general terms, the widespread perception is there will indeed be extra money trickling down throughout the community. Speaking as an outsider to the gambling industry, local realtor “Downtown Steve” Franklin expects a noticeable positive impact across many areas from the Super Bowl landing in his city.
“We’re really a one-horse town when it comes to our economy,” Franklin said. “It’s tourism-driven, and it really does trickle down, from the industry workers to the people that clean the rooms. They’re going to see more tips or maybe even larger tips. Same with waiters and waitresses — they’re going to see more tips and then they’re going to be spending their money with the local restaurants and local retail.
“It’s going to be a great event for the city. I mean, I’m not going to get a ticket for the game,” he said with a laugh. “But I’m really happy that it’s coming, that’s for sure.”
Derek Stonebarger, who owns multiple bars in Las Vegas’ Arts District, has a similar attitude.
“I’m always excited about any event that markets what I believe is the most amazing city in the world,” Stonebarger said. “We should see a boost, like we do every time that the town is busy. I don’t know exactly how many jobs this will create, but I know that I’ve already seen signs going up, looking for help, the city and various businesses beginning to plan for the Super Bowl.”
2007 was a long time ago
All that planning is par for the course now in a city that has increasingly gotten used to hosting massive attractions. As Curtis recalled, there was only one time Las Vegas got caught off guard, and that was when the NBA All-Star Game came to Sin City in 2007 and chaos — above and beyond the typical everyday Vegas chaos — ensued.
“They weren’t really ready for that weekend, and they got spanked as a result, but I think Vegas learned a whole lot from that weekend,” Curtis said. “Given the magnitude of the Super Bowl, they’re planning like crazy right now.”
The only major concern that Las Vegas locals seem to have is with the city’s ability to deal with the traffic on the roads.
“That’s the biggest concern — traffic and parking,” Curtis said. “They’ve had a lot of dry runs with Raiders games that are filled to capacity. But we’ve never had anything quite like this.”
“The city is always under construction, so there are going to be some traffic issues, more than likely,” agreed Franklin. “They’re redoing Tropicana right now at the 15, and that’s not going to be completed by the Super Bowl. So that’s going to create a little bit of a traffic issue.
“But we’re used to large events. Week after week, there are conventions that come into town that draw massive amounts of people. Las Vegas will be ready for this.”
Photo: David Becker/Getty Images