LAS VEGAS -- Take a three-day weekend and throw in the first college football games of the season and -- according to tourism officials and local sportsbooks -- it's a winning combination.
Las Vegas is showing some welcomed signs of life as tourists start flocking to the Strip for the Labor Day weekend. Local sportsbooks expect it to be standing room only as the college football season kicks off.
"It's a huge busy weekend with everybody in anticipation and feeling a lot of optimism for their teams. They're playing tables, they're playing slots, they're visiting the hotels, bowling alleys, movie theaters and restaurants. They're here to have fun and have a great weekend," said Jason McCormick, Red Rock Resort Race & Sports Book director.
There was more Badger red than Rebel red on the Strip Friday as thousands of Wisconsin fans descend upon the city for Saturday's big game against UNLV. Las Vegas tourism officials project a three percent increase in visitor volume this Labor Day weekend. That's nearly 300,000 tourists expected in the valley. Station Casinos is projecting a 99 percent hotel occupancy at all of its properties over the weekend with some great deals for locals. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority says many of the resorts are offering discounted package deals that include rooms with dining, spa, and entertainment included.
"That's the real beauty of Las Vegas. There's so much activity, so much energy, so many people just enjoying themselves and stimulating the economy," said Vince Alberta, LVCVA.
"They're going out of their way to make us feel welcomed here. The food's good, the gambling's good, and we love to sports bet," said Parker Vivoda, Wisconsin fan.
The LVCVA estimates the economic impact of Labor Day weekend to be about $160 million for Las Vegas. That's still down a few percentage points from the previous year which indicates while more visitors are coming to Vegas, they're still not spending as much as they did before the recession.