LAS VEGAS - The NFL regular season kicks off Wednesday night, and that means people are ready to spend their money at Las Vegas businesses and place their bets at local sportsbooks.
Last year, a lockout threatened to delay the start of the season. It ultimately didn't, but the lockout lasted 18 weeks. That meant teams couldn't prepare for the season until late into the offseason. The same went for local sportsbooks and sports bars, which scrambled to prepare for the late influx of people who lined up just in time for the season to start.
There's a renewed excitement this year. LVH Race and Sportsbook Vice President Jay Kornegay says football has seen slower times, but football bets represent approximately 40 to 45 percent of the casino's total handle.
"Even during those slow times, it was so popular and part of the American culture to bet football - especially here in Nevada - that there is always money set aside for their favorite hobby," he said.
Kornegay expects a packed house at the LVH Race and Sportsbook Wednesday. Betting experts say the NFL's opening weekend is by far the busiest of the year.
Area businesses are also capitalizing on the start of the season.
"We have a bunch of great promotions going on - hat giveaways, jersey giveaways," said Remedy's bartender Chiara Conzoner. "We have great food specials for five dollars, drink specials for two dollars. We're not a specific team bar, so everybody is welcome."
Kornegay says the NFL season brings business throughout the city.
"Everybody in this town benefits from the football season, meaning the taxicab drivers, the restaurants, the bartenders, the waitresses. You name it, all the properties in Vegas benefit entirely," he said.
The LVH is already seeing improved business with the NFL preseason and has set a record for the number of entries in its high-end football contest.
The NFL season kicks off Wednesday night as the defending champion New York Giants host the Dallas Cowboys.
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