How Sports and the Super Bowl Changed Las Vegas

Las Vegas has always been a prime destination for gambling, entertainment, and general debauchery. The city is known worldwide as an adult playground. Historically, many of Las Vegas’ wares have been focused on flashy casinos, luxury hotels, fine dining experiences, and glitzy shows. In recent years, Vegas has upped its game and become a top spot for sports fans.

I spoke with Lance Evans, Senior Vice President of Sports & Sponsorships for MGM Resorts International, to discuss Las Vegas’s significance in the sports world.

Other GT Coverage: Best Sports Betting AppsBest Sports Betting PromosSports Betting States

A Watershed Moment for Las Vegas

One big moment kicked off the avalanche of sports activity in Las Vegas. Of course, the city has had sports betting for many years, but only in the past decade has Las Vegas transformed into a destination for sports fans outside of and in tandem with betting. Lance Evans said:

“I’d have to say [the watershed moment] was when we opened T-Mobile Arena, our 16,000-seat sports and entertainment venue. This allowed the NHL, and any other League interested, to consider bringing a franchise to Las Vegas. The Arena was built without the promise of a major sports franchise but with the intent to support two anchor tenants. The Vegas Golden Knights made it their home and the rest is history.”

MGM Resorts is a 42.5% owner of T-Mobile Arena, alongside Anschutz Entertainment Group (42.5%) and Bill Foley (15%). The Las Vegas Golden Knights joined the NHL in 2017. In that time, they’ve cemented their place as a team to be reckoned with, claiming two conference championships and a single Stanley Cup win, the latter of which came in the 2022-23 season.

T-Mobile Arena and the Golden Knights provided an excellent blueprint for how sports could work in Las Vegas. Sure, it gave Las Vegas locals a team to root for. But it also gave fans from across the country even more reason to visit the entertainment hub. It didn’t take long for another league — far bigger than even the NHL — to catch on.

In 2020, the Raiders — based in Oakland since the team’s inception in 1960 — moved to Las Vegas, becoming the city’s first NFL team. They now play in Allegiant Stadium, which opened on July 31, 2020.

Las Vegas, The Super Bowl, and More

After only three-ish years of hosting a football team, Las Vegas became a host city for the Super Bowl. Last weekend, the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers in overtime under the dome of Allegiant Stadium, marking yet another watershed moment for Las Vegas — the city’s first time hosting a Super Bowl. Lance Evans said:

“Las Vegas has hosted some of the world’s biggest events, most recently the Formula One Las Vegas Grand Prix, the NBA’s inaugural In-Season Tournament (at T-Mobile Arena), and the NCAA’s Sweet 16/Elite 8 also at T-Mobile Arena, to name a few. Hosting Super Bowl 58 will be the defining moment for the Sports and Entertainment Capital of the World.”

Between T-Mobile Arena and Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas has hosted some of the most popular sporting events in the world, forever altering the fabric of the city.

Where Sports Betting Fits In

If a rising tide lifts all boats, then sports betting is riding quite the wave in Las Vegas. As tentpole events draw fans of all sports and teams to the desert, sportsbooks (and casinos, and restaurants, and… you get the idea) all benefit from surges in patronage. Fans in search of entertainment will naturally spill over into Vegas’s veritable well of options. Crafting a holistic fan experience, said Lance Evans, is key to making full use of the Vegas sports opportunity.

“Sports betting’s role is primarily about fan engagement. BetMGM’s lead differentiator is the uniqueness of its loyalty program, allowing for real world rewards at MGM Resorts destinations nationwide. With every wager placed, guests can earn points to unlock VIP experiences such as trips to Las Vegas to see their favorite sporting event.”


About the Author
Cole Rush

Cole Rush

Writer and Contributor
Cole Rush is an industry writer and contributor at Gaming Today. He is a Chicago-based writer in the gambling and media spaces. His work has been showcased in various gaming industry magazines and online columns. Rush also covers pop culture and books for Reactor Mag (formerly and, a sci-fi and fantasy book review site. He has more than eight years of experience writing about gambling and entertainment.

Get connected with us on Social Media