The mayor of Las Vegas talks sports betting and the city’s economic growth

The Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers will play Super Bowl LVIII at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. The “fun economy” that drives business in Las Vegas – which is responsible for sports, tourism and gambling revenue – is estimated to be worth nearly $13.7 trillion.

Yahoo Finance’s Akiko Fujita sits down with Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman to explore the city’s path to legalizing sports betting, as well as the Las Vegas economy as it relates to its booming tourist attractions and increasing presence in professional sports.

“The whole idea behind it affects our entire economy. “100% of the people who come here want to be part of that vitality and hospitality corridor of the Strip,” says Mayor Goodman about recovering and reopening from the COVID-19 pandemic. “Even though we’re diversifying our economy, it’s more than just the Strip, and we can talk about technology and so many other things – our medical district, what we do there, the cultural base – those are all areas of employment.”

For more expert insights and the latest market activity, click here to watch this full episode of Yahoo Finance Live.

Editor’s Note: This article was written by Luke Carberry Mogan.

Video transcript

[AUDIO LOGO]

We’re just days away from Las Vegas, home of the first-ever Super Bowl. The big game is the latest in a string of sporting successes for the city, as the legalization of sports betting makes the city an increasingly attractive destination for leagues. But the city’s mayor, Carolyn Goodman, says it wasn’t always that way. I spoke to her about the long journey she and her husband, the former mayor, have come to get here.

CAROLYN GOODMAN: My husband actually made a list of all the commissioners of all major league sports and traveled around the country visiting those commissioners and talking about visiting Las Vegas. Of course it fell on deaf ears, but it didn’t stop us. And we had the Summer League here with David Stern from the NBA. And things started to develop and we built good personal relationships.

And then the city bothered to advertise during the 2003 Super Bowl because we have a great city. Lots of hotel rooms, great entertainment and of course we were turned away. Why? Because Nevada wasn’t the best place for advertising. Legalized gambling. Well, lo and behold, every city, almost every state in the country is constantly looking for ways to finance their many, many projects.

And it became more and more demanding. And in 2018, the Supreme Court said: Bingo. Open sports betting, everyone. Legal, sports betting. And of course we’ve been here for years and decades and had everything to monitor this and ensure how we do it. But that’s why it became okay. And so the Major League sports pursuit continued. It is so exciting for us here in Las Vegas that this wonderful event is happening here, right now.

Like the city of Las Vegas, what kind of economic boost or boost is the Super Bowl likely to bring? To what extent does this affect the residents living there?

CAROLYN GOODMAN: Well, you know, I think, first of all, the excitement here is palpable. Certainly because we have now expanded our airport to be able to offer direct flights from all over the world. Everyone knows the name Las Vegas, even if they don’t speak English. You can hear it, heads are turning, they’re excited. It seems like a place with so much going on. We have great dining experiences, great shopping, usually great weather like I said, and the ability to host conventions and meetings.

And everything is so close and yet so many opportunities for personal sports – be it golf or tennis. Red Rock is internationally known for its great rock climbing. Of course, we have the ever-shrinking Lake Mead that we stick to for any boating events you want to attend. And it’s just a place where everything is open 24 hours a day, which is like no other city in the country. Everyone closes down as we move on to a new shift.

I counted four sports teams, professional sports teams, that you have founded so far in Las Vegas, including the WNBA. They have another team moving in, the Oakland A’s, soon to be the Las Vegas A’s. How do you build on this vision?

CAROLYN GOODMAN: You continue. We have now pursued MLS football through Commissioner Garber throughout my term in office. We’ve been pretty close as they’re trying to expand and introduce new franchises. I’m convinced it’s just a matter of when Adam Silver will say yes. We love Vegas.

I mean, it just keeps going because of the hospitality and our pride and the way we create a base where people come and relax, have a good time, leave their worries behind and come here or in can invest in our wonderful community. Because contrary to what you know, many other states have no state income tax, no business tax, and no inheritance tax. And we have so many opportunities to find money for construction and development. It’s so exciting I hate watching it. What’s next?

Mayor, let’s talk about the overall economy. Nevada, the state of Nevada, has the highest unemployment rate in the country. At last check, the rate in Las Vegas is also well above 5%, compared to 3.7% nationally. How much of this is a COVID hangup? Why do you think it was so difficult?

CAROLYN GOODMAN: The fastest recovery from COVID occurred here in the heart of the city. Not in the district, but in the city. We were the number 1 resort. For us being in the heart of the city, a lot of that has to do with a lot of small businesses. It also had to do with our governor closing the Strip during the COVID-19 crisis.

So if you go ahead and close the schools, then that will have an impact. But all of our people – we have a lot of unskilled but very necessary jobs to take care of our hospitality corridor. And when he, the governor, closed our community, it diminished the tremendous number of our hospitality workforce.

Yes. I mean, when you think about the direction of the economy, are you confident that you can get back to pre-pandemic levels? Las Vegas really came to a standstill, the impact was pretty significant. The service sector right in the middle.

CAROLYN GOODMAN: The whole idea behind it is our entire economy, 100% of the people who come here want to be part of that vitality. And the hospitality corridor of the Strip, even as we diversify our economy, is more than just the Strip, and we could talk about technology and so many other things. Our medical district, what we do there.

The cultural basis. These are all employment niches. But it was the Strip, and it was closed. And so the recovery is almost there again. We are almost at the tourist site.

Finally, Mr. Mayor, I would like to bring the conversation back to sports, because that’s where we started, and to sports betting, which has really led to a big boom in the Las Vegas economy. Have you bet on the big game?

CAROLYN GOODMAN: My husband will bet there are cockroaches running across the floor. As far as I know, there is one person in the family who is betting on the money. There are six family members except one. And he loves it. And we have more prop bets than you can imagine. Interestingly, no bets are made on whether Taylor Swift will make it or not and how often the camera will focus on her.

That’s right, you’re absolutely right. And our city center, our sports betting here is simply having the best times. And of course we have all these wonderful hotel rooms that show that Las Vegas wins big and what you can bet on.

Mayor Goodman, I really appreciate your time today. Thank you for joining us.

CAROLYN GOODMAN: Thank you for having us.

Source link