Las Vegas Room Rates Soar With March Madness Tipping Off

Posted on: March 17, 2021, 03:27h. 

Last updated on: March 17, 2021, 03:58h.

Room rates at Las Vegas hotel-casinos are going through the rafters at the start of March Madness this year.

The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas towers over the Strip. It is one of the resorts raising hotel room rates for the opening weekend of March Madness. (Image: Las Vegas Weekly)

The NCCA men’s basketball tournament (aka “March Madness”), traditionally a busy time for the city’s sportsbooks, is driving room rates up by $200 or more in some instances, according to a Las Vegas Review-Journal analysis. 

Last spring, COVID-19 concerns halted play in professional and collegiate sports, including the NCAA men’s tournament. This year, the NCAA tournament is back in action. First-round play begins Thursday. 

With a full schedule of games this weekend, room rates at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas are starting at $650, compared to $325 last weekend. This is the largest rate increase in the newspaper’s analysis.

The Cosmopolitan towers over the much older Jockey Club on the west side of the Strip. Other resorts nearby also have raised their rates. The Bellagio Las Vegas, located on the west side of the Strip near the Cosmopolitan, went from $269 last Saturday to $369 this weekend.

Also near the Cosmopolitan, the Aria Resort and Casino is raising its starting rate by $130. The rate last weekend was $219. This Saturday’s rate will be $349.

Rates at Circus Circus Hotel and Casino are going from $85 last weekend to $150 this Saturday. Circus Circus is on the west side of the Strip near Sahara Avenue.

Red Rock Resort, located west of the Strip, is going from a starting rate of $188 last weekend to $399 this weekend.

At Circa Resort, an adults-only property in downtown Las Vegas, hotel rooms this weekend start at $399. That rate is $100 higher than last weekend.

‘A Joyous Occasion’

Normally, the first March Madness games are played in arenas around the country. This year, all games in the 68-team field will be played in Indiana to limit COVID-19 exposure. After winning teams advance through several rounds, the final two play April 5 for the championship.

The CBS Sports website notes that fans are eager for the tournament to begin.

After the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out last year’s event, it will be a joyous occasion for diehard college basketball fans and casual observers alike,” the CBS Sports website states.

Las Vegas hotel-casinos are capitalizing on that eagerness.

Josh Swissman, a gaming consultant with The Strategy Organization, told the newspaper that everyone wants to “get back to enjoying the normal things in life.”

“For a lot of people, that’s coming out to Vegas, whether by plane or car, and enjoying the first couple rounds of the NCAA tournament,” he said.

Realistic Room Rates

During the pandemic, room rates in Las Vegas have been lower than in the past. In January, the average daily rate in Las Vegas was $90.71, a year-over-year decline of 41 percent, the newspaper reported.

Tourism officials are hopeful that nationwide vaccinations will give tourists a sense of safety in traveling again. In addition, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) this week extended the capacity limits in casinos from 35 percent to 50 percent.

Even with these factors, some experts anticipate room prices will settle back to a lower level for awhile.

Debi Nutton, a gaming consultant and former Wynn Resorts executive, told the newspaper that room prices won’t remain at a higher rate unless midweek business picks back up.

“I don’t think we’ll see great hotel rates on a consistent basis until we get conventions back,” she said.