The first Super Bowl took place in 1967. The Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs by a score of 35-10, playing the game at the old Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The Packers were favoured to win the game and more than covered its -14 spread. Players on the team earned $15,000 each for their trouble.

Vegas sports books – not yet in casinos, they were smoky, freestanding joints that sported rakish names like Little Caesars and Paddock – took action on the game and unwittingly planted the seeds for this year’s history making Super Bowl, which is set to take place in Sin City on February 11, 2024. 

An argument can be made that Las Vegas has been rehearsing for the big event since 1967.

On any given Super Bowl Sunday, Vegas hosts a crush of fans who want to bet on the game in the gambling capital of the world. They watch the action in any number of the city’s sports books and nip out to play blackjack during halftime and commercial breaks.

This year the books will be packed – as will new spots like Flanker Kitchen + Sports Bar, with its mob of TV screens and elevated bar food – but the real action will be at Allegiant Stadium, just a short stroll away from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino (which is the place stay if you manage to score a ticket for the big game).

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said that Super Bowl buzz “has never been higher” than it is right now, as anticipation builds for the game to be played in Vegas.

Front-running teams, according to the NFL betting odds at 888: San Francisco 49ers vs Kansas City Chiefs or Philadelphia Eagles. Bet on the 49ers to win it all, and, as this is being written, the Super Bowl odds are 5/2. Eagles and Chiefs are both 7/1.

During a recent trip to Vegas, I heard from Steve Hill, chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, that Vegas is more than ready to exceed all expectations.

Referencing the capacity of Allegiant, he told me, “There will be 65,000 people in town who know they are VIPs. Other cities are not set up for so many VIPs. We can take care of 65,000 people in a way they have never experienced before.”

That’s to say nothing of the estimated 385,000 who are expected to flock to Vegas with no intention of attending the Super Bowl.

After all, you don’t need a ticket for the game to experience the buzz that Goodell alluded to. This year’s annual Super Bowl Experience will be held at Mandalay Bay and has been described as an “interactive football theme park.”

Gridiron fanatics will be able to score autographs from players past and current, pose for photos alongside the Vince Lombardi trophy and even compete against NFL pros at a 40 yard dash via LED screens.

There’s a celebrity-chef feast being fired up downtown and Super Bowl breakfast at Caesars Palace on the morning before kickoff.

OF course, sports books all over town will be jammed up with the kinds of prop bets – including everything from the winner of the coin toss to who will score the last touchdown, which will also be found on 888 – that are hallmarks of the Super Bowl.

If Hill were a betting man, he might wager that this will not be the last Super Bowl to take place in Las Vegas. “Hopefully,” he said, “there will be the message that the Super Bowl should be in Las Vegas every year.”

*Credit for all of the photos in this article belongs to Alamy*

Michael Kaplan is a journalist based in New York City. He has written extensively on gambling for publications such as Wired, Playboy, Cigar Aficionado, New York Post and New York Times.

He is the author of four books including Aces and Kings: Inside Stories and Million-Dollar Strategies from Poker’s Greatest Players. He’s been known to do a bit of gambling when the timing seems right.