Las Vegas Casino Executives Praise Super Bowl, Formula 1 Impact

February 22, 2024
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Despite questions regarding how hosting major events such as the Super Bowl and the inaugural Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix would impact casinos, bosses of several of the Las Vegas Strip's most prominent casino-resorts insist they were thrilled with the results.
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Despite questions regarding how hosting major events such as the Super Bowl and the inaugural Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix would impact casinos, bosses of several of the Las Vegas Strip's most prominent casino-resorts insist they were thrilled with the results.

With the two major events bringing hundreds of thousands of tourists to the city and significantly disrupting the status quo on Las Vegas Boulevard, some observers expressed concerns about whether the logistical challenges posed by both the Grand Prix and Super Bowl, such as road closures and busier than normal casinos, would turn away regular players.

Bill Hornbuckle, CEO of MGM Resorts International, said during an earnings call last week that he was one of those skeptics when it came to hosting the NFL’s biggest game.

But he has changed his mind after seeing the results from hosting the Super Bowl just steps from several of MGM’s properties.

“We were always concerned. We do great Super Bowl parties here. Will it be the kind of event that will drive [spending in casino-resorts], given the additional expense of the tickets, etc?” Hornbuckle said. “The answer was, hands down, yes.” 

“Unlike where Formula 1 was isolated to our premium properties, Super Bowl drove it across the board,” he continued. “Las Vegas showed up, and I think we all did a tremendous job hosting it, and where I was skeptical going in, I would look to clearly want to host this again.”

Although the Super Bowl is an isolated event and it will be at least several years before Las Vegas is awarded another chance to host the game, the Las Vegas Grand Prix is set to be an annual occurrence for at least a decade following last November's inaugural race that saw cars screaming down the Las Vegas Strip.

Both Hornbuckle and Caesars Entertainment CEO Tom Reeg said that although the operators’ higher-end properties thrived during the Grand Prix, a future focus would be trying to spread that benefit to more mid-tier properties.

“I think on pricing, when it comes to Formula 1, we're going to be more cautious of some of the outlier properties that we have,” Hornbuckle said. “We got paid for Bellagio, ARIA, or Cosmopolitan along the track, and we got paid well.

“I think if you go further away you got from the track, with a couple of exceptions, MGM [Grand] held in there well because of its adjacency to the paddock, there's opportunity to do that better and get more people back into the town.”

Reeg said that the race was “a phenomenal event” for the Las Vegas market and a “big stimulator of demand” for Caesars.

“It was a gargantuan effort to pull off a race at all, as with anything of that scale where you launch, you learn, what would I do differently as we move forward,” Reeg said.

“We know as Caesars that this will be a better event when more of the city is energized, not just the four or five buildings that garnered the brunt of the benefit, so we're working with our partners in the city and with Formula 1 to make sure that it is a more broadly successful event next year than even the success that it was this year.”

Reeg added that one of the ways organizers could look to improve the results throughout the Strip would be to lower ticket prices for the actual race.

“We’re working with Formula 1 and I’d expect there will be more approachable participation at not the very highest end of the market,” he said. “That’s going to be helpful for properties that maybe didn’t get to participate as much this year.

“We at Caesars certainly, and I know my discussions with MGM and Wynn, everybody is aware that if only a few buildings in the market benefit from this, it’s not going to be a super long-term event.”

Those feelings were backed up by Wynn CEO Craig Billings.

“The first time you do anything of this scale, you're going to have learnings, and it's just natural, and so, I do think that there's a lot that can be done to make the event more relevant for the town more broadly,” Billings said.

“I think that F1 understands that, and I think, frankly, the operators in town understand that, even those like us who disproportionately benefited.

“I think what [the inaugural race] proved is that the core contingent of people that travel to go to an F1 race is our customer, and so you better believe that we will program the heck out of this place yet again … this coming year, and we will do our best to attract the best customers in the market,” Billings added.

“And hopefully, there will be more opportunities for some of the other tiers of properties in the market to participate in the event this year as they continue to evolve and change the event.”

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