By 2030, if not sooner, a sports fan could potentially attend a live sports game, place a bet on the game at the arena, celebrate both wins in an adjacent casino, and retire to a resort-style hotel room right above the entertainment – in large part thanks to a 2018 ruling by the United States Supreme Court.
In May 2018, the Supreme Court declared the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) unconstitutional. PASPA had essentially limited sports gambling to one state, Nevada, for the preceding 25 years.
Striking down PASPA left each state free to chart its own course for sports gambling. Most states have taken advantage. Since 2018, legal sports betting has expanded to 37 states (and DC), with a handful of states in the “on-deck circle,” busy introducing state legislation concerning sports gambling and casinos, and presenting fresh propositions to voters.
According to an article from the Legal Sports Report, since 2018, regulated operators outside of Nevada have generated more than $20 billion of revenue from almost $250 billion in total wagers. In 2021, New Jersey revenue even surpassed Nevada revenue. Notable state holdouts (California, Florida, and Texas) are leaving substantial tax revenue on the table – but not for long. The tide is turning. In May 2023, the Texas House of Representatives approved legislation that would let voters decide whether to legalize sports gambling across the state. Although the Texas State Senate killed the legislation, seventy-five percent of Texan voters currently support sports gambling and casino legislation. The prevalence of sports gambling has even enticed family-friendly Disney to launch its ESPN Bet gambling app next month. Statewide legalization is not a matter of if, but when.
In states in which sports gambling and casinos are already legalized, real estate developers are queuing up to consolidate resorts, casinos, and sports arenas under the same umbrella. At a 2023 conference in Las Vegas, Tim Leiweke, chairman and CEO of the Los Angeles-based Oak View Group, presented his vision for a 20,000-seat NBA arena as part of a $3 billion new hotel, gaming and entertaining district in Las Vegas. “If we get to the finish line, we will build the largest development in the history of Las Vegas,” said Leiweke.
Leiweke is not the only visionary with plans to fuse the sports and hospitality arenas. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban teased his dream scenario to The Dallas Morning News, saying “My goal, and we’d partner with Las Vegas Sands, is when we build a new arena, it’ll be in the middle of a resort and casino. That’s the mission.”
In Northwest Arkansas, Jerry Jones (via Legends Hospitality) and Cherokee Nation Business teamed up to procure an Arkansas casino license, potentially clearing a path for the construction of a $225 million casino and resort. While Arkansas lacks a professional sports team to complete the hospitality triumvirate, a successful partnership between Jones and Cherokee Nation could pave the way for a hospitality mecca in Oklahoma City, where the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder currently occupy the Paycom Center, the NBA’s smallest arena.
As states continue to embrace sports gambling and casinos, the hospitality industry’s marriage of resorts and casinos will dramatically expand beyond Las Vegas, Reno, and Atlantic City. With real estate developers and their local government partners preparing to compete for the pocketbooks of locals and tourists alike, a partnership's ability to complete the “triple play” with the inclusion of a sports arena presents an opportunity to hit the hospitality jackpot and provide an economic windfall for the surrounding area.