This year’s top stories in Las Vegas include new casino operators to live and televised sports. In between, there was a little gambling and newfangled ideas that haven’t taken off as some experts predicted.
One particular story describes how one casino could change the Vegas Strip skyline more than any other casino in over a decade. The transformation of the Mirage to Hard Rock Las Vegas will take a few years, but the ramifications will be visible to guests inside and outside of the property.
Meanwhile, live sports is changing the scope of entertainment in Las Vegas. The Entertainment Capital Of The World is home to NFL, NHL and WNBA teams. Las Vegas also hosts events like The Match (golf), the NFL Pro Bowl, one of next year’s NCAA basketball regional and more.
All of this is boosting visitation to Las Vegas. In turn, hotel room rates are rising above pre-pandemic levels. The year 2022 was significant for Vegas.
Here are the biggest stories in Las Vegas this year.
Hard Rock to take over the Mirage
Last year, Hard Rock purchased operations of the Mirage from MGM Resorts for $1.075 billion in cash. The company struck a deal with the landlord VICI to spend more than another billion dollars to reshape the property.
Unlike some recent casino hotel changes (Park MGM, Virgin, Horseshoe), this will be much more than a makeover. Hard Rock plans on gutting the property from top to bottom.
Hard Rock will build a guitar-shaped hotel tower on the Vegas Strip, where there’s currently a volcano in front of the Mirage. Don’t worry; you should be able to check out the volcano if you visit Las Vegas next year. This tower will have an infinity pool, restaurants, shopping and a Hard Rock Casino. Hard Rock plans to gut and rebuild the hotel rooms and expand the casino.
The property will operate as the Mirage for the next couple of years, but the future is bright for the casino that ushered Mega-Resorts into Las Vegas in 1989.
March Madness Las Vegas bigger than ever
Tourists have been visiting Vegas for years to watch and bet on the first weekend of games. More tourists were willing to visit Las Vegas this year for the first weekend of March Madness since the pandemic.
The betting handle on the first four days and 48 games of the NCAA basketball tournament typically rivals the Super Bowl as the most bet-on sporting event of the year. Despite some concern, this hasn’t stopped even as more states legalize sports betting.
Frankly, there’s nothing like being able to bet on so many college basketball games while enjoying the best of Las Vegas during and after the games.
Next year, March Madness in Las Vegas will go to another level. Typically, tourists leave Las Vegas after the first weekend of games and don’t return.
In 2023, Las Vegas will host the West Regional Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games for the first time. The games will take place at T-Mobile Arena behind New York-New York.
This will bring fans, family, and media to Las Vegas to watch the second set of games in person. This is typically the slowest weekend of March Madness in Las Vegas. There should also be more college basketball fans in Las Vegas just enjoying the pomp and circumstance that Sin City has for all major live events.
Looking forward, Las Vegas will host the Final Four in 2028. These games will take place at Allegiant Stadium across the freeway from Mandalay Bay and Luxor. This event should bring even more people to Las Vegas for the NCAA basketball tournament.
The Match at Wynn
On June 1, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers played a 12-hole golf match against Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen at Wynn Golf Club. Brady and Rodgers won “The Match” as -200 favorites.
The Match is a made-for-TV golf event that airs on TNT and related networks. This event is among a handful that helped influence Wynn Las Vegas to be the backdrop of in-person and televised events more frequently.
Since The Match took place this summer, Wynn has actively increased the number of events it hosts. Fans of standup comedy probably noticed Sebastian Maniscalco’s ode to Las Vegas in his latest Netflix special recorded at Wynn Las Vegas.
Plans have not been announced for The Match in 2023 but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Wynn Golf Club host again.
Station Casinos shrinks, plots huge future
The year 2022 was a wild one for Red Rock Resorts, the parent company of Station Casinos. The year started with the company breaking ground on Durango Resort. The full-service casino hotel is on schedule to open in late 2023.
During the summer, the company announced it was closing and demolishing Texas Station, Fiesta Rancho, and Fiesta Henderson. Red Rock has since sold the Fiesta Henderson land to the city. The company still owns the other two plots of land.
Red Rock also closed and demolished Wild Wild West casino on Flamingo, near the Vegas Strip.
Meanwhile, the started looking to the future with plans to double its portfolio over the next few years. It purchased 126 acres of land on Las Vegas Blvd. south of Mandalay Bay.
There are plans for new Station Casinos properties all over the Las Vegas valley. The company has mentioned opening properties in north and south Las Vegas.
The latest plans call for a new Station Casinos property to be built in West Henderson. Reports say this construction on this casino could begin right after construction on Durango is completed. The very tentative opening date would be in 2025.
The future for Station Casinos is bright as the company came out of the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic with significant growth plans.
Honorable mentions for big 2022 Las Vegas news
World Series Of Poker moves to Strip
Players seemed to embrace the move as the WSOP Main Event had 8,662 participants. This was the second most number of WSOP participants. The event will return to the Vegas Strip, with events taking place at Horseshoe and Paris again in 2023.
Gaming, tourism and inflation impact travelers
This happened while visitation to Las Vegas continued to increase throughout the year. Harry Reid International Airport is on its way to seeing a record number of passengers.
Demand and inflation helped Las Vegas hotel rooms reach record-high prices in October. The $209.89 average daily room rate was 55% higher than in 2019.
Between Las Vegas hosting more major sporting events and concerts as well as the return of conventions, there could be even more demand for hotel rooms. This could cause rates to keep on rising.
Las Vegas Grand Prix announcement
Earlier this year, F1 announced the Las Vegas Grand Prix will take place from Nov. 16-18, 2023. This set off a firestorm of events, including crazy high ticket and hotel room prices for the weekend of the race next year.
The Las Vegas Grand Prix is an international luxury event that will attract high rollers worldwide. Las Vegas as a landscape for major events like F1, March Madness, and Super Bowl will impact Sin City well beyond just these particular events.
New ideas sputter
Some new ideas didn’t take off as expected in 2022. For the sake of brevity, we’ll group NFTs, cryptocurrency, cashless gaming and the Tesla/Boring Vegas Loop together.
Las Vegas experimented with each this year, but none took off. Cashless Gaming may have a future in Las Vegas, but it’s only available at one Vegas Strip casino (Resorts World) and less than a dozen throughout the city.
So far, the Tesla/Boring Vegas Loop has only expanded to one resort. There’s a lot of work to do in order to have more than 50 stops around the Las Vegas valley.
Stay tuned; there’s a possibility at least one of these will flourish in Las Vegas someday.
Nevada sports betting growing, not expanding
Revenue from sports betting in Nevada continues to grow as it expands across the country. However, Nevada sports betting apps remain less than impressive compared to similar products outside the state.
Thanks, in part, to the in-person mobile registration requirement, the best sportsbook apps around the country aren’t in Nevada. Sportsbook operators like BetMGM, Caesars, Wynn and more have lower quality apps with smaller menus in Nevada than in other states they operate.
Meanwhile, Las Vegas sportsbook operators looking to increase profit are considering booking fewer events like the NFL Draft because they can’t find a way to make more money on a niche betting event.
Having said all that, there’s still no better place to vacation where you can watch and wager on sports. You’ll have to go to a sportsbook inside a casino to sign up for an app account with fewer betting options than sportsbooks around the country.