Why The Expansion Of Legal Sports Betting Won’t Change Las Vegas

Posted By Marc Meltzer on May 5, 2018 - Last Updated on May 22, 2018

The bravado Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Tony Alamo speaks with regarding the effect legalization of sports betting nationwide will have on Nevada is impressive.

“It won’t make any difference at all. At the end of the day, our handle will stay the same and our win percentages will stay the same. It’s an amenity to bring people into our gorgeous properties.”

Alamo’s confidence isn’t without reason. Las Vegas, specifically, is a unique tourist destination. Visitors used to come to Las Vegas specifically to gamble. That hasn’t been the case in years. There are casinos in almost every state in the country. People visit Las Vegas for much more than gambling.

Tourists won’t stop visiting Las Vegas

While casinos around the country offer gambling there is no other market that offers the Las Vegas experience. There is no city that offers the combination of activities and amenities that can match Las Vegas. The number of casino-resorts in close proximity is great and the best offer some

  • Restaurants
  • Shows and concerts
  • Bars
  • Nightclubs and dayclubs
  • Spas
  • Special events like the Electric Daisy Carnival
  • Conventions (yes, people visit Las Vegas to “work”)
  • Adult entertainment
  • Golf

There’s probably more but you get the picture. These things make Las Vegas a great tourist destination and it doesn’t even include live sports events.

  • UFC
  • Hockey
  • College Basketball
  • NBA Summer League
  • Boxing

The Oakland Raiders will begin to play in Las Vegas in 2020 and their stadium could host even more major events. By the way, Nevada doesn’t even need the NCAA Basketball Tournament or Super Bowl to take place in Las Vegas for the city to make big money on sports.

However, the live events can bring more money into casinos. On a recent earnings call, MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren said that big boxing matches still bring high rollers into Las Vegas. In case you’re curious he said that hockey brings mid-tier customers to the casino.

Besides, the average tourist isn’t gambling all that much money. According to the most recent Las Vegas visitor profile by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, the average person who gambled in 2017 only had a gambling budget of $541.18 for their trip. That’s lower than 2015 and 2016.

People haven’t been visiting Las Vegas only to gamble for years. In fact, 26% of visitors to Las Vegas last year didn’t even gamble last year. GASP!

Local market growing

While tourists may bring the big bucks, local customers help keep sportsbooks afloat throughout Nevada all throughout the year. This is the forgotten segment by much of the media. Earlier this year Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the Nevada Gaming Control Board, told Legal Sports Report the following:

“The growth has been phenomenal, a lot of it’s attributable to personal device wagering, the ability to bet on sports through your phone, the fact that there’s a wide variety of wagers you can make on in-play wagering,” Lawton said. “There’s just such an awareness of sports betting, a lot of it’s being talked about on national TV constantly, the economy is doing a better. There’s just a lot of drivers that are the catalyst behind why we keep growing year after year.”

Nevada locals tend to wager more with a mobile device than tourists. Mobile wagering is continuing to grow thanks to Nevada residents. Approximately 60% of wagering at CG Technologies takes place on a device, according to the VP of Business Development for CG Technology Matthew Holt. That number decreases to 40% when tourists invade Nevada for big sports events and only bet in person at the sportsbook.

The convenience and options with sports wagering apps continue to attract more Nevada residents to bet on sports. Legalization of sports betting across the country will increase media coverage of sports betting. This will affect people around the country and will continue to help sports betting continue to grow in Nevada.

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Marc Meltzer

Marc Meltzer grew up on the mean streets of the South Bronx. He's the rare combination of Yankees and Jets fan which explains his often contrarian point of view. Marc is a freelance writer and social media consultant. Writing about steak, booze, gambling and Las Vegas is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

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