Only a very small amount of the pop culture that has emerged from Las Vegas has been flattering. From Nicky Santoro killing a man with a pen to Clark gambling away the Griswold family’s savings, Sin City has a sordid history that is hard to overlook when reading graphic novels, unless you’re a professional sports league.
Corporations‘ relentless pursuit of world domination might face their greatest challenger yet in the connection between sports and legalized gambling. An estimated 23.1 billion dollars are expected to be wagered on Super Bowl LVIII, more than the GDP of 66 countries, all for one football game.
The merging of sports and gambling brings to mind the plot of Pinky and the Brain, and the figures involved in sports betting are unprecedented. The Al Davis-owned Raiders‘ home stadium, dubbed the Death Star by Davis, aptly describes the colossal magnitude of the business entities involved in this industry.
There are three steps, starting with normalizing a vice, followed by indoctrination of the public, and finally profiting from an addiction aimed at pushing marginalized populations to the fringes and exacerbating the already out-of-control wealth gap. The vilest aspects of drugs, alcohol, and sex in Las Vegas have long been kept behind closed doors, but sports betting has now emerged into the light, with high-profile individuals like Kevin Garnett, Jamie Foxx, the Manning family, Kevin Hart, and the NFL profiting from it.
The notorious Vegas catchphrase „What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas“ actually originated from the NFL vetoing a Super Bowl commercial for the city in 2002. This decision was leaked to the public, shedding light on the NFL’s ban on gambling advertising in their TV contract. Yet, 20 years later, the same league is partnering with a marketing firm responsible for creating a Super Bowl campaign that promotes „excessive celebration,“ in direct contradiction to the negative messaging previously associated with gambling behavior.
The phrasing of „excessive“ and „encouraged“ in any marketing material for Las Vegas reinforces the idea that one can display their worst behaviors in Sin City and return to normal life unscathed, an extremely flawed belief that could have serious consequences for average citizens, potentially outweighing those for the NFL, NBA, MLB, or NHL.
Considering that Las Vegas wasn’t built on winners, the question arises: how much of the projected 23.1 billion dollars wagered on the Super Bowl on Sunday will be paid out? The house always wins, and with the NFL now part of the house, the stakes in this high-stakes game couldn’t be higher.