With an earlier than slated opening date for his Circa Resort & Casino, Las Vegas CEO and developer Derek Stevens is clearly enthused about what the venue will bring to Downtown Las Vegas and unveiling what will be the world’s largest sportsbook.

The October 28 launch will see the introduction of a 1.25 million-square-foot integrated casino-resort comprising five floors of amenities and a three-story sportsbook with 1,000 employees working to ensure a world-class experience for guests.

Speaking more about the impending debut, Stevens told SBC Americas: “We were very excited that we could announce the opening of Circa Las Vegas on October 28. This is going to be something great for Downtown Las Vegas but also great for Vegas overall. I think there’s an awful lot of pent up demand to see some new product here.”

On the sportsbook element of the project, he commented: “I’ve been coming to Las Vegas for a long time and I’ve watched football and other sports in almost every sportsbook in Vegas and I guess this is just an accumulation of different thoughts and ideas from over the decades. What we did is create what’s going to be the world’s largest sportsbook. 

“It’ll be the first three-storey sportsbook – it’ll have the largest video screens. It will have a television studio for VSiN and audio studios for radio remotes and podcasters and it’ll have the most amount of seating of any sportsbook ever. It will accommodate around a thousand people with the standing room element. I expect on a great night with – say a World Series game or an NFL Sunday – the roar of the crowd in the sportsbook is going to be unparalleled. It should be a lot of fun for everybody.”

He added: “This project goes back a ways. I bought the property in August 2016 and we went through design and development and worked with some great architects to be able to put this thing together. We really tried to focus on giving people the best sports watching experience that they could ever dream of.”

Looking beyond Vegas, Stevens believes that sports betting will only become more popular, due in no small way to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I think what you’re going to see is because of the pandemic throughout the country, every state and every municipality is going to run short on their budget for 2020,” he said. “And the COVID-19 impact is so great that states and municipalities are not going to be able to cut costs enough to be able to offset the loss of revenue. 

“So they’re going to have to look at additional revenue sources. And I think sports betting is clearly another revenue source. It’s probably going to accelerate the thought process with regards to legalizing sports betting in some of the states that have not yet done so.”

Mobile, said Stevens, will be a key component of that progression. He noted: “Take a look at the state of Colorado just launching recently. With Colorado having remote registration and remote funding it really opens up the opportunity for everyone in the state to enjoy sports wagering. I think we’ve seen this here in Nevada now for a number of years. 

“The impact of mobile app betting has been dramatic. I mean a very strong majority of all the wagers is on mobile, both for convenience as well as the functionality. This past week we posted lines in between every round of every UFC fight. You might only have a 30-second window to be able to get a bet in and you can’t physically do that at a counter. So to take hundreds of bets in between rounds you’re really only able to do that on a mobile app.” 

The fact that sports wagering has blossomed since the strikedown of PASPA has come as no surprise to Stevens. “When we started thinking about designing Circa Las Vegas it was back in 2016 (pre-PASPA strikedown) and we always felt the demand for sports betting was tremendous,” he said. 

“We’d seen year-over-year the increase in handle on Super Bowl – the increase in handle overall. So we always thought that sports betting was going to continue to grow. I think there are a lot of reasons for that. First off, you’ve got more access to watch games and I think that television production has got so much better. With HD TV and much greater detail the games are so much better to watch. 

“And with that comes an increase in wagering. The removal of PASPA took away the stigma of sports betting and I think you’re seeing a much higher percentage of people that are willing to make a bet because it enhances the watching experience.”

Stevens was also the subject of some interesting headlines recently after launching a free flights promotion to attract customers back to Vegas. Aside from being an incredibly positive piece of PR, it transpired to be a welcome shot in the arm for the gambling capital. 

“We had a lot of fun with that,” he recalled. “We knew back in April that there was a date when we were going to be able to reopen and we wanted to come up with a promotion that could help support the airline industries – because Vegas is very dependent on the airlines – as well as supporting our hotels and the other hotels in Las Vegas.

“So we thought that this was an idea that would help jumpstart Las Vegas. It started off with 24 cities – we ended up doing 33 cities and 2,000 flights so it was great to see that there’s a lot of demand to come to Las Vegas.”

All being well, and that demand increasing as the year progresses, Stevens can hopefully look forward to the roar of those crowds in his new sportsbook come October. The new normal won’t look quite the same as the old normal, but in the case of Circa it will perhaps be much bigger and brighter.