Reno Casinos See Super Bowl Boost, Circa Sportsbook Breaks Records

Posted on: February 13, 2024, 02:35h. 

Last updated on: February 14, 2024, 01:23h.

In the Nevada gaming landscape, every other casino market is an afterthought when measured against Las Vegas. But with the help of San Francisco 49ers fans from California’s Bay Area, Reno/Lake Tahoe benefited from the Super Bowl in significant fashion.

A rendering of the Legends Bay Casino in Sparks, Nev.
A rendering of the Legends Bay Casino near Reno. The Circa sportsbook there topped previous Super Bowl handle records. (Image: Olympia Gaming)

While Las Vegas was the center of the football universe leading up to the big game, some 49ers fans from Northern California opted against expensive airfare and hotel rooms in Las Vegas.  Instead, they traveled to Reno, confirming the big game was a big deal for the “biggest little city in the world.” As reported by Ken Belson of the New York Times, a slew of 49ers fans made the trek from the Bay Area to the Reno/Tahoe area to watch their team take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII.

Reno is just a quarter of the size of Las Vegas, though the former is Nevada’s second-largest casino market after Sin City. At least three factors helped Reno shine as an alternative to its “big brother” to the south on Super Bowl Sunday: the presence of the 49ers in the game, affordability, and proximity.

Reno/Tahoe is a shorter flight or drive from the Bay Area than is Las Vegas. Additionally, though it’s hard to quantify in terms of Super Bowl impact, the Reno/Tahoe region has in recent years drawn thousands of residents from the Bay Area. It’s possible that some of the 49ers fans who traveled to Reno for the big game had coworkers, family, and friends in the area.

Reno is attracting companies such as Amazon, Alphabet, Apple, and Tesla, contributing to an unemployment rate below 3%, far below Nevada and national averages.

Reno Sportsbooks Posted Super Bowl Records

Due in large part to 38 states and Washington, D.C., offering some form of regulated sports betting, this year’s Super Bowl smashed records in terms of handle. That trend held true in Reno.

We were completely sold out. Record handle and a sea of Niner fans,” said Jeffrey Benson, director of operations at Circa Sports, in an interview with

Las Vegas-based Circa runs the sportsbook at the Legends Bay Casino in Sparks. That venue, which is located at The Outlets at Legends shopping center, opened in August 2022 and is one of the newest casino hotels in the market. At the time it opened, the sportsbook at Legends Bay was Circa’s sixth in Nevada.

Other gaming companies with Reno/Tahoe casino hotels include Bally’s, Caesars Entertainment, Century Casinos, and Tilman Fertitta’s Golden Nugget.

Another Super Bowl Benefit for Reno

As the Times pointed out, Reno/Tahoe benefited on another front. Many of the 49ers fans who made Super Bowl trips to the region did so because they wanted to bet on the big game — something they can’t legally do in California.

Nevada gaming data collectors don’t quantify how much handle is attributable to bettors from California. But it’s reasonable to assume the percentage was elevated for the Super Bowl. That provided some cushion for sportsbook operators who were punished by the vast majority of bettors leaning into the Chiefs on the spread and on the money line.

As for when California approves sports wagering, the outlook is murky at best. The issue won’t make it onto this year’s ballot, and even if it’s approved in 2026, it could be several years after that before Tribal gaming entities approve mobile wagering.