super bowl
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Should the Super Bowl stay in Las Vegas?

The NFL championship game generated huge profits for casinos and attracted record audiences, prompting some to reconsider rotating the game to other cities

Super Bowl 2024
NFL fans wait for the start of the Super Bowl in Las Vegas between the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Chiefs.MIKE BLAKE (REUTERS)
Luis Pablo Beauregard

The idea was brought up multiple times in the week leading up to the NFL championship game: maybe the Super Bowl should be held in Las Vegas every year. It was the first time the gaming capital of the world had hosted the biggest American sports event of the year, but it set two remarkable records. It became the most-watched program in the history of American television and generated the most bets since sports gambling was legalized. “I think it’s safe to say the NFL looks forward to coming back,” said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell at the ceremony where he handed off the next Super Bowl to New Orleans.

“I believe we had a very successful Super Bowl,” Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo said. “I think the state of Louisiana and New Orleans have a high bar to get over now.” He added, “They look a little nervous.” At a press conference in Las Vegas, city officials half-jokingly commented that Goodell should abandon the tradition of rotating the big NFL game, which has been the norm since the third Super Bowl in 1969. “I think I got the message about having another Super Bowl in Las Vegas,” said the commissioner.

Las Vegas has long been a popular tourist spot with 150,000 hotel rooms and a wide range of shows and spectacles. However, it wasn’t known as a sports hub until recent years. In 2017, the city welcomed its first National Hockey League team, the Golden Knights, who became champions in 2023. The move of the Oakland Athletics MLB team to Las Vegas was confirmed last November, and they will play in a temporary stadium until their permanent home is ready in 2028. Many believe the city will eventually land an NBA team. The WNBA has had a team in the city since 2018 — the Las Vegas Aces — who have been back-to-back champions for the past two seasons.

The A’s aren’t the first team that Las Vegas has lured away from Oakland — the NFL’s Raiders moved there in 2020. An unwritten NFL rule prevents a city without an NFL team from hosting the Super Bowl, which generates hundreds of millions of dollars for local businesses. The Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce estimated that the event would bring in around $215 million to the city.

The NFL seems to have trimmed the number of cities where it wants to hold Super Bowls. Western cities with good weather have dominated recently. In 2027, Los Angeles will host its second Super Bowl in five years. The 2026 Super Bowl will also be in California, at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, the home of the San Francisco 49ers, who just lost their chance at a sixth title. Other venues passed up their Super Bowl chances to focus on the 2026 FIFA World Cup, hosted by 16 cities in Canada, Mexico and the United States.

Of the 57 Super Bowl games since the first one in 1967, 29 have been played in three metropolitan areas: Miami, Los Angeles and New Orleans. Next year, New Orleans will host its 11th Super Bowl, and it’s the sixth one in the Superdome, where the Saints play. Las Vegas is poised to join the ranks of these cities in the rotation.

NFL Super Bowl Las Vegas
NFL fans at Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas.ETIENNE LAURENT (EFE)

Record gambling numbers

The Nevada casino industry reported a $6 million profit from the Super Bowl alone, which is 3.7% of the $185.6 million in bets. This is the highest amount since record-keeping began, surpassing the previous mark of $179 million set by the 2022 Super Bowl between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals, which had a higher profit margin ($11 million or 6.2%). The figure has yet to be audited, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Across the nation, an estimated $1.5 billion in bets were placed. Even though the 49ers were favored over the Chiefs, more people bet on the Chiefs to win, causing losses of around 4% for bookmakers throughout the country. According to Macquarie Securities, this equates to approximately $64 million.

“The game sparked a lot of interest in a new demographic — women,” said Macquarie analyst Chad Beynon, referring to the powerful draw of Taylor Swift. “Super Bowl 58 was very good for sports betting.”

The bookmakers may have suffered even greater losses if the star players on both teams had played better. Interestingly, this Super Bowl set more records off the field than on it. Only four touchdowns were scored, and the most noteworthy game record set in Las Vegas was the number of field goals made by a single kicker. Harrison Butker of the Chiefs now holds that record with nine.

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