Las Vegas living up to title as ‘Sports and Entertainment Capital of the World’ this weekend

Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 11:14 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - It is a massive week for sports and entertainment in Vegas. Thursday marks the first-time March Madness has come to the city with a pair of Sweet 16 games at T-Mobile arena Thursday and an Elite 8 game slated for Saturday. Meanwhile, Friday and Saturday, Taylor Swift will play a pair of sold-out shows at Allegiant Stadium, the first woman to headline at the home of the Las Vegas Raiders. Tens of thousands of fans are in town for both major events.

March Madness has long been a massive draw for gamblers who come to Vegas to place their bets on the tournament, but they’ve always been limited to watching the games on TV. March Madness coming to Vegas helps to solidify the city’s title as a new sports capital argues UNLV Assistant Professor Amanda Belarmino with the William F. Harrah College of Hospitality.

“Hosting the NCAA Tournament is really a jewel in our crown,” Belarmino contended. Vegas is taking its place as a sports city with events like the NFL Draft, NFL Pro Bowl and even the Super Bowl next year.

“There has just been a greater social acceptance and understanding of betting. I think fantasy football had a lot to do with that... But I think probably one of the most important things was when we had the Supreme Court ruling that allowed sports betting to be legal anywhere in the United States that wished to have it legal,” Belarmino explained. As doors have opened, sports have continued to come from the Golden Knights Hockey to Raiders Football to Aces Basketball and Formula 1 later this year.

With more collegiate athletes coming to town, Belarmino says Vegas is seeing a new younger, demographic of visitors.

“It is really a great way to help diversify our tourism economy... As we continue to see signs of economic turndown, it allows us not to be relying so heavily on leisure travel,” Belarmino asserted.

According to Belarmino, large venues like Allegiant and T-Mobile built for sports also help bring in big entertainers like Taylor Swift.

“For a long time, we weren’t necessarily a spot when people were doing their tours... It really does show us being regarded as a major city in the United States not simply a tourist place,” Belarmino said.

In 2019, the NCAA overturned a policy that prevented college championship games from taking place in states with sports gambling. Vegas will host the Final 4 in 2028.