Julie Jacobson / AP
Wednesday, March 14, 2018 | 2 a.m.
Despite men's NCAA Tournament games being played elsewhere this week at sites across the country, Las Vegas has become basketball central during March Madness.
Two of the three busiest weekends (based on Friday and Saturday occupancy) in Las Vegas over the last two years were during the NCAA Tournament, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
Hotel occupancy rates during the first week of March Madness in 2016 was No. 1 with a 98.8 percent occupancy rate, and tied for No. 2 in 2017 with a 98.5 percent rate.
Week 2 of the tournament was among the top 10 hotel occupancy weeks in 2016 but jumped to No. 2 in a tie with Week 1 of the tournament, with a 98.5 percent rate in 2017.
The occupancy rate numbers can’t officially be tied to the NCAA Tournament as hotels don’t have the data to pinpoint what the guests are here for and the fact the tournament occurs over multiple days, according to the LVCVA. But with the city increasingly catering to fans during March Madness, it appears to be no coincidence.
McCarran International Airport expects a boost in passengers during this year’s first two weeks of the NCAA tournament over last year.
McCarran expects 1.85 million passengers (coming and going) to travel through McCarran March 11-24, which is an 8.4 percent increase over March 14-26, 2017, the first two weeks of last year’s tournament. Christine Crews, McCarran spokesperson, said with the tournament including multiple dates, that the increase can’t for certain be linked to the event.
Hotel properties across the Strip host a bevy of watch parties, drawing droves of fans, and the accessibility to legal sports gambling is a big fan draw as well. The American Gaming Association estimates about $300 million will be wagered on the 2018 NCAA Tournament in Nevada sports books.