Westgate SuperBook head John Murray: 'I think Las Vegas is the sports capital of the world'

June 16, 2023
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The sportsbook, marketed as the largest in the world (circa pre-Circa), lost a little bit of money when the hockey team won, but nobody is complaining in the least.

The Vegas Golden Knights’ Stanley Cup victory this week created a lot of energy and activity at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas – marketed as the world’s largest sportsbook before the opening of Circa's Vegas book – but it wasn’t exactly great on its bottom line.

“We did lose a little bit of money when they won the cup,” said a sheepish John Murray, Executive Director of the SuperBook, this week, speaking exclusively to Gaming America.

But don’t get him wrong. He’s not complaining. As Vegas locals, he and the rest of the Westgate crew are Golden Knights fans and, besides, they managed the liability well – much better than in 2018, the team’s first year of existence when it unexpectedly made it to the Stanley Cup Finals despite expert predictions they’d be lousy.

All season long, the Knights were in the mix for the championship this year, so Westgate was much more prepared for the amount of betting that came its way.

“It’s been great for the city,” Murray said of the Golden Knights’ championship run this year, in just its sixth year of existence.

Murray said the clinching game of the Stanley Cup finals, Game 5 this week, was “by far our biggest hockey handle of the year.” The energy and excitement the Golden Knights’ run generated in the sportsbook was a boon to Westgate and really the city as a whole, he said.

And, according to Murray, the hits are just going to keep coming, as far as the Las Vegas sports scene is concerned. Murray noted that the day after the Golden Knights won Lord Stanley’s Cup, the Nevada legislature approved funding to build a Major League Baseball stadium for the relocating Oakland A’s on the Strip, not far from the Knights’ T-Mobile Arena.

Meanwhile, the Women’s National Basketball Association’s Las Vegas Aces is well into its own season, defending its championship from last year. The National Football League’s Las Vegas Raiders is gearing up for its upcoming season, which will conclude with Super Bowl LVIII being played in Sin City on February 11, 2024.

Later this year, on November 18, 2019, Formula 1 racing is coming to the desert with the Las Vegas Grand Prix, featuring a temporary street circuit on the Strip itself. Work is being done on the Strip right now to prepare for the event.

“I’ll do you one better,” Murray said when asked if the Golden Knights’ championship had officially made Las Vegas – once a pariah among the four major professional sports leagues – an official sports city now. “I think this is the sports capital of the world right now,” he said.

After listing, off the top of his head, all the sporting events planned for Vegas – and not including the city’s usual slate of boxing and mixed martial arts matches, and its annual National Basketball Association Summer League games – he chuckled. “You have to tell me,” he asked wryly, “who is a bigger sports town in the world right now?”

The man has a point. Viva Las Vegas.

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