Super Bowl XLIX between the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots is set for this Sunday in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale, Arizona. While there will be a sold out stadium for the Super Bowl for many people the real party will be 4.5 hours away in Las Vegas. Super Bowl weekend is traditionally one of the biggest of the year for both tourism and sports book wagering. Given the anticipation surrounding the 2015 Super Bowl matchup it could be a record breaking weekend for the casino industry.
From a marketing standpoint, the NFL couldn’t have asked for a better matchup. A potential dynasty team in Seattle meeting the best team of the past decade. A talented young quarterback in Russell Wilson against a future hall of fame quarterback in Tom Brady. Energetic, upbeat Seahawks’ coach Pete Carroll battling taciturn Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Even the cities have a natural rivalry with Boston’s reputation as an ‘old money’ haven and Seattle one of the epicenters of the 21st century tech economy. Throw in the never ending (and seriously over hyped) ‘Deflate-gate’ scandal and the league couldn’t have written a better storyline if they tried.
At the heart of the matchup are a couple of excellent football teams. The entire mix will potentially produce one of the most intensely watched Super Bowl games in years. Ticket prices on the secondary market at sites like StubHub are at record highs and that’s good news for Las Vegas tourism. The better the game, the more anxious people are to travel to the Nevada desert to watch it—and bet it.
Super Bowl weekend attracts over 300,000 visitors to Las Vegas and tourism officials are expecting a 1.7% increase this year over the 307,000 that came to town last year. They’ll also be spending more money while they’re in town—Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Authority projections suggest a non-gaming economic impact $124.4 million, up 1.9 percent from 2014. This is a demographic that loves to eat, drink and party.
They also love to bet. The 2014 Super Bowl set a state record for betting handle and the 2015 game could surpass that. Based on the projected tourism numbers, the early betting on the game and the overall interest in the Super Bowl matchup the handle at sports books in Nevada casinos is expected to exceed $100 million. The opening weekend of ‘March Madness’ is now the biggest betting event of the year for Nevada bookmakers but the Super Bowl remains the biggest single one day wagering event.
While the Super Bowl is a big betting event all over the world—and the biggest single day event for sports books that serve a North American clientele—it isn’t the biggest. It is surpassed worldwide by the Champions League final which has the advantage of a huge legal bookmaking industry in soccer mad Great Britain. This fact has not been lost on Las Vegas and with UK bookmaking firm William Hill now owning the largest share of betting outlets in Nevada don’t be surprised if the Champions League becomes a popular betting event in the Silver State.