On February 5, 2024, it was announced that Las Vegas would be hosting the Super Bowl, signaling a significant shift in the relationship between the National Football League (NFL) and the city. The idea of Las Vegas as a host for a major sporting event like the Super Bowl would have been unfathomable just a decade ago.
The transformation of Bellagio Lake into a hub for CBS Sports coverage highlights the growing synergy between the NFL and Las Vegas. The Luxor even became a giant Dorito as part of the grand spectacle. However, this partnership was not always seen as a natural fit.
Historically, Las Vegas had not been viewed as a viable location for professional sports teams due to various reasons. The city’s relatively small local population was one of the main obstacles. The gradual growth of the Las Vegas metropolitan area began to change this perception. Additionally, the presence of legal sports betting in the community created a significant barrier for professional sports leagues.
The issue of sports betting was particularly pronounced, with the NFL taking a particularly strong stance against the presence of gambling in Las Vegas. However, the landscape began to shift in 2018 when the US Supreme Court ruled against the federal ban on sports betting. This decision paved the way for numerous states to legalize sports betting.
As legal betting became more widespread across the country, the NFL began to reconsider its stance. The league entered into sports betting partnership deals with prominent companies like Caesars Entertainment, DraftKings, and FanDuel. It also made moves to bring major events like the NFL Draft and Pro Bowls to Las Vegas. These developments reflected a changing political and technological landscape and signaled a new era of cooperation between the NFL and Las Vegas.