NFL opener thrills Las Vegas sportsbooks as sports betting popularity rises

Westgate, South Point expect record betting numbers
Westgate Sportsbook
Posted at 10:43 PM, Sep 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-10 10:31:05-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The NFL season started with the defending Super Bowl champs—the Tampa Bay Buccaneers—defeating the Dallas Cowboys.

And you better believe sports betting for that game and the upcoming weekend is huge for Las Vegas and the sportsbooks.

“We were asleep at the wheel way back when,” said Jimmy Vaccaro, a prominent Las Vegas bookmaker. “Now, we’re gathering momentum.”

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It seems like every casino is following a trend: sports podcast studios and sports betting apps.

“You don’t want to be left out in the cold,” said Vaccaro. “It used to be, ‘Yeah, I don’t care about the guy next door.’ Now, if he has something you don’t, you better jump on board.”

And betting on those apps is what gave Las Vegas a pulse during the hardest points of the pandemic.

“Even when the casino was closed last year, we were still taking bets,” said John Murray, Westgate’s executive director of race and sports. “When people were afraid to come in, we had occupancy restrictions—we were still taking bets in the sportsbook.”

The first week of the NFL regular season is financially huge, and right behind the Super Bowl and March Madness in dollar signs.

“The sportsbook did more business last year than maybe any other department in the casino,” said Murray. “We’re hoping it will continue to do so now. Sports betting is more popular than ever.”

Since 1980 in Las Vegas, sports betting numbers have only gone up. Never down.

“The final number last year on Super Bowl Sunday was $93 million,” said Vaccaro. “I would be very disappointed if we didn’t hit $120 million just on that one game.”

And as it becomes available in more states, the audience for the cell phone apps and sportsbooks becomes that much greater.

“It’s here to stay,” he said. “Get used to it. Have some fun with it.”

Westgate and South Point have said they are expecting record numbers from sports betting this year.