Las Vegas resorts poised to cash in on March Madness excitement

The Westgate Superbook is one of the largest in the world as seen in these photos taken Sept. 2020.
Posted at 4:20 PM, Mar 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-17 01:01:17-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — After last year's NCAA men's basketball tournament was canceled last year, several Las Vegas resorts are reporting a boost in occupancy, room rates and sold-out events.

"We've taken in a lot of calls," said Jay Kornegay, who runs the Westgate SuperBook.

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"We've taken in a lot of emails and I can just tell the vibe, the electricity is there," said Kornegay. "People are ready to come out."

None of this year's March Madness games will be played in Las Vegas, but that doesn't mean Las Vegas isn't poised to cash in.

"If you measure it just by the money played and the number of tickets that we write during this time, it's the number one event of the year," said Kornegay.

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Kornegay says the excitement around March Madness doesn't just translate to money wagered on the games, but money spent on events in at least five venues on property, several of which are sold out.

Westgate Vice President of Public and Community Relations Gordon Prouty says that it also translates into a bump in hotel occupancy.

"We like to call it a maximum safe occupancy," he said.

"We're seeing a good lift for this weekend," said Prouty, "and quite honestly, we've been seeing a good lift for the weekends moving forward too."

Prouty says while Las Vegas will always offer good deals to visitors, higher demand means rising room rates.

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The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority doesn't have an estimate on visitation or economic impact of the tournament this year but across town, many hotel-casinos are hosting March Madness events and watch parties.

McCarran International Airport announced it would reopen its Terminal 1 Economy Lot this week after it had been shut down due to low demand.

So while basketball fans from all over the country converge in Las Vegas to cheer on their team, they may give the city reason to cheer too.