By Ray Hagar, Nevada Newsmakers
Nevada’s streak of $1 billion in monthly-gaming-win is now at six — from March to August.
September is next, of course, and Michael Lawton, analyst for the Gaming Control Board, says football season, football betting and games played at the $1.8 billion Allegiant Stadium could help stretch the streak to seven.
“The future is really bright for that stadium, what it brings to our state, Las Vegas and The Strip,” Lawton said of the new home of the Las Vegas Raiders’ NFL franchise.
“It is hard to give an exact figure,” Lawton said about the projected September gaming win totals. “I will tell you that in July, when we set the all-time record of $1.4 billion in gaming win, Allegiant stadium opened up and there was a Garth Brooks concert. That was a huge draw.”
September was the first month the $1.8 billion Allegiant Stadium was filled with fans for both college and professional football games, although games with limited fans were played there in 2020. The Las Vegas Raiders played two games at Allegiant in September, drawing more than 59,000 for a game against Miami.
The stadium is also playing host to neutral-site major college football games. A crowd of about 54,000 — the largest ever to see a college football game in Nevada — watched BYU defeat Arizona at Allegiant in September. The 2021 Pac-12 championship game is booked for Allegiant in December. In October of 2022, BYU is expected to play Notre Dame there. In in 2024, a September game between LSU and Southern Cal is booked.
“It (Allegiant Stadium) can be nothing but positive, in my opinion, for what that venue is going to bring to the city and the state in terms of events, sporting events, concerts and special events,” Lawton said.
Special events have traditionally been big-money makers for Las Vegas gaming properties. World championship boxing matches used to be the big draw. Now, perhaps major football games, concerts and other events at Allegiant will boost the state’s gaming win.
“That has always been something we track every month: What are the special events?” Lawton said. “And it’s great to see them back because that means people are going to come back and people are going to spend. So I think it will only add to as a positive for gaming win in the future.”
“I’m really excited when I look out for the next few months,” Lawton said about the bookings at Allegiant. “One of the biggest things coming is the Rolling Stones are playing Allegiant in November.”
When Shad joked that should bring out a lot of senior citizens, Lawton said:
“That’s good because they like to gamble,” Lawton replied.
Perhaps what will be remembered as Las Vegas’ biggest sporting day — in terms of crowds — also came in September.
On Sept. 26, three home games were played by professional teams in Las Vegas, including the football Raiders, baseball Aviators and hockey’s Golden Knights. Plus, 43,000 watched a NASCAR race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Unofficially, about 125,000 fans attended those events, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
H. Fletch Brunelle, vice president of marketing for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, told the Review-Journal that if any city can handle multiple major events in one day, it’s Las Vegas with it’s 150,000 hotel rooms.
“Las Vegas is the sports and entertainment capital of the world and the ideal destination to host multiple high-profile sports events at the same time,” Brunelle told the LVRJ.
Sports betting is also on the rise for Las Vegas and elsewhere, Lawton said.
“Sports wagering is the big thing now,” Lawton said. “There’s 28 jurisdictions that are offering legalized sports wagering in the county now since the Supreme Court decision.”
Lawton was referring to a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down a 1992 federal law that banned sports betting in most states.
Some were concerned the court ruling could have a negative effect on Las Vegas books.
“Everyone was worried about what that would do to that particular area of gaming,” Lawton said about the court ruling. “Well, we’re up 57 percent in sport betting, off of a record year in 2019.”
Las Vegas has also become a go-to destination for bettors who flock to Las Vegas to place bets and hang out in sports books during major sporting events in other cities, such as the NCAA Tournament or Super Bowl.
Technology and relaxed betting laws now allow in-state bets to be placed on iPhones or similar devices.
“I think if there is a next big thing, that is kind of where it is at,” Lawton said about sports betting. “But nothing last forever. We’ll see what happens. Who knows? My crystal ball is always a little foggy and always a little bit wrong.”