Approaching three months since the COVID-19 shutdown began, Las Vegas' reopening process took its biggest step yet. And, of course, sports betting was part of that step. Retail sportsbooks on the Las Vegas Strip, Fremont Street and all around town began reopening on Thursday, June 4, a welcome move for the industry.
Las Vegas sportsbook operators and oddsmakers shared their emotions and thoughts on reopening and hinted at the potential massive sports betting menu in the coming months.
When did Las Vegas sportsbooks reopen?
Several Las Vegas-area casinos opened at the first allowable minute – right after midnight, at 12:01 a.m. Thursday. Sportsbooks had their TV screens and odds boards on, but the counters didn’t begin opening until 8 a.m., with Circa Sports and the South Point among the first to do so.
Derek Stevens, owner of The D and Golden Gate in downtown Las Vegas, has easily been Vegas’ biggest cheerleader and ambassador in getting the engine chugging again.
“It’s been a long time,” Stevens said just before his properties’ midnight reopening, followed a few hours later by the Circa Sports books located within. “This has been a great week, seeing everybody coming back to work. We’re fired up and ready to go.”
Oddsmakers were relieved and grateful to have sportsbook counters back in business, after a very difficult couple of months.
“Reopening today is huge for sportsbooks and the gaming industry as a whole,” Circa Sports operations manager Jeff Benson said. “Getting people back on property and interacting with our staff, even in a limited capacity, has been awesome so far.”
Is a sports betting boom on the way?
As more major U.S. sports chart their comeback path, the freshly reopened sportsbooks are excitedly bracing for what could be a spectacular stretch of sports betting opportunities. The NHL has a playoff format and matchups figured out, and the NBA just approved a 22-team format to finish its season. Horse racing’s Triple Crown starts June 20 with the Belmont Stakes.
The PGA Tour returns next week, with three majors stacked into the second half of the year. And there’s high hopes for the NFL and college football starting on time, of course.
“I think the stars are aligning. You’ve got the Masters, Kentucky Derby, the NBA playoffs and a helluva NFL season. And the boys of summer are gonna be wearing ice skates,” Stevens said, alluding to the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Added Jeff Stoneback, director of trading for BetMGM in Nevada, “September is gonna be a huge month. NBA and NHL playoffs, NFL and college football, and throw on top of that the biggest horse race of the year, the Kentucky Derby. It’s gonna be unprecedented”
The Kentucky Derby is the second leg of the Triple Crown this year, set for September 5, during what could be a monster Labor Day weekend of sports.
Stevens summed it up nicely.
“This might be the best six months of sports and sports betting in American history.”
Where can I bet on sports?
Find out where to bet legally on sports in the U.S.A., how sports betting runs in each of those states, and which states will have sports betting next with our legal sports betting review and map.