Home » Jackpot! For Sports Betting, A Super Bowl In Las Vegas Is Winning

Jackpot! For Sports Betting, A Super Bowl In Las Vegas Is Winning

LAS VEGAS _ The first thing visitors to Media Row at the Super Bowl have seen this week are two NFL-themed slot machines from Aristocrat Gaming.

Pick your team, spin the wheel. While you wait for the result, highlights (and no lowlights) of that particular club play on the league-licensed machine.

If anything says sports betting has become the norm in America, it’s that.

Or it might be looking past the slots and seeing the large broadcast sets of DraftKings and FanDuel, where the two gaming companies have been producing content all week.

Or it might be the mere fact that Las Vegas – once a major league pariah because of fears that a player gambling in the one state where he could legally do so would destroy fans’ trust in legit sports – is now home to an NFL team, an NHL club, and soon, a Major League Baseball team.

Or that we’re in Las Vegas at all for the NFL’s title game.

“This is a full circle moment for the U.S. gaming industry with Las Vegas hosting the Super Bowl for the first time. Five years ago, Nevada was the only state with legal, regulated sports betting,” said Cait DeBaun, vice president for strategic communications and responsibility at the American Gaming Association.

“Today, 38 states and the District of Columbia now have legal markets. It’s a remarkable transformation that provides consumer protections while generating billions of dollars in tax revenue.”

Many would push back on the idea that sports bettors are well protected and safe, but no one can really argue against the point that there are a lot of them.

The AGA estimates a record 68 million American adults will wager a total of the $23.1 billion dollars on the matchup between the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, up from $16 billion last year.

If or, more likely when, California, Texas or Florida come on line those numbers will jump even more.

The 2018 Supreme Court decision that allowed states to decide for themselves whether to allow sports gambling has unleashed a torrent of new – or maybe the way to say it is newly above board – money into the sports ecosystem.

It’s an occasional case in American society of a new normal spreading quickly – very quickly to someone who lived with norms running the other way for a long time. The end of smoking in public places and tougher drunk driving laws come to mind as examples, though sports betting is the case of something newly allowed as opposed to newly banned.

Which brings us back to Las Vegas, a city where the idea of being a Super Bowl host would have seemed absurd just a decade ago.

Now that it is getting its chance, Las Vegas is making the most of it. While overnight lows in the 30s are making some northerners wonder why they packed swimsuits, Las Vegas has been otherwise admirably hospitable.

Areas around the main Super Bowl events are clean and well-staffed with security, and workers at the resorts are good about answering tourist questions. Allegiant Stadium is walking distance from several major resort hotels.

All of which makes sense, because moving huge numbers of people around to different activities and keeping them smiling is what Las Vegas does all year long.

Keep things running smoothly through Sunday, and Las Vegas won’t have to wait another 58 years to host the big game again.