Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun
Friday, Feb. 3, 2012 | 2 a.m.
With the Super Bowl kicking off in less than 72 hours, hundreds of thousands of visitors and the millions of dollars they bring with them are pouring into Las Vegas.
Super Bowl weekend is typically one of the biggest of the year for the city, and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is projecting this year’s showdown pitting the New York Giants against the New England Patriots will bring in the most people and the most dollars since 2008, a sign of the continued recovery of the region’s economy.
A total of 286,000 visitors are expected over the weekend, with room occupancy rates reaching 87 percent, a 4 percentage point increase over last year, according to the authority. The increased bump in visitors should generate about $97.5 million in nongaming economic activity at local restaurants, bars, hotels and shops.
“I think this kind of justifies the broader recovery we’ve been seeing in our convention industry and our tourism overall,” said Jeremy Handel, LVCVA spokesman. “We’ve been seeing that recovery for the last year and a half, and this just supports that.”
Handel said the ability of the city’s businesses to pull together for the weekend — from prop bets being put out at the sports books to casinos staging extravagant watch parties — has established Las Vegas as a destination for Super Bowl weekend.
“It’s a matter of the entire destination buying in together and selling ourselves,” Handel said. “If you can’t be at the Super Bowl, Las Vegas is the next best place to be.”
The game is also the biggest event of the year for area sports books, which are continuing to tweak the betting lines as tens of millions of dollars are wagered on the game.
Lines started with the Patriots favored over the Giants by 3 or 3.5 points, but betting action over the past week has favored the Giants and pushed the spread down, said Jay Kornegay, director of the sports book at the LVH — the Las Vegas Hotel and Casino.
“About 62 percent of our tickets are on the Giants so far. But the bigger plays have been on the Patriots,” Kornegay said. “This is the one event that the public, small money outweighs the sharp, big money.”
Sports books statewide took in $87.5 million in wagers on the Super Bowl last year, winning $700,000, and Kornegay predicted sports books could take in up to $90 million in bets this weekend.
Sports books have made money on five of the past six Super Bowls, including $12.9 million in 2007. The only losing year for casinos recently was in 2008, when the Giants defeated the heavily favored Patriots.
Kornegay said regardless of the amount of money the sports books bring in, the largest impact from the weekend will be on the broader economy.
“This creates so much traffic. It’s the biggest and most important week for Las Vegas in my eyes,” he said. “It’s about more than just the game anymore; it’s coming here to experience the whole weekend. From the Hoover Dam to the Strip, everybody benefits.”
Casinos and restaurants throughout town will have watch parties with food and drink specials Sunday.
The offerings range from the cheap — like $2 hot dogs and beer at the LVH — to pricier options like the $175 game day Italian buffet and open bar at Lavo at the Palazzo.
For a complete listing of the weekend’s festivities, visit the Sun’s event guide.