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Skyrocketing Las Vegas Room Rates Product Of March Madness Demand

James Murphy
by in Gaming Industry on
  • For the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic Las Vegas hotel rooms are in high demand.
  • March Madness is always a huge betting event in Las Vegas but the influx of visitors is particularly welcome this year.
  • It’s not difficult to find a decent hotel for less than $200 a night for the opening rounds of March Madness.

For the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic hotel rooms in Las Vegas are in extremely high demand. The occasion, of course, is the opening weekend of March Madness. The first four days of the NCAA Basketball Tournament is the biggest single betting event of the year at US sportsbooks. The Super Bowl is the biggest single day event but the combined handle of the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament tops it.

Bookmakers around the world expected a lot of action via mobile and web platforms but there was some question about the demand at the retail level–particularly in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas tourism and gaming industry has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic which hit a nadir with an unprecedented two month plus shutdown. Even after the casinos reopened demand was weak–to the point that many properties only opened their hotels on weekends. Some shut their properties down entirely mid-week and there are still a handful of casinos in the Las Vegas Valley that have yet to reopen including The Palms and the Main Street Station downtown.

There have been a number of positive signs over the past few weeks but the most significant might be the prices for hotel rooms over the opening weekend of March Madness. First of all, some context: in January, the average room rate and occupancy rate for hotels in Southern Nevada were downright ugly. Here’s the carnage from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA). Check out the nasty year over year decline percentages:

Las Vegas Review-Journal Business Reporter Baily Schulz examined the price trends for the weekend in an article posted earlier today:

The upcoming March Madness tournament is driving Las Vegas room rates through the roof.

Resort-casinos across the valley are seeing room rates skyrocket this weekend, with some hitting prices not seen in months. The high price points hint that demand is picking up for Las Vegas vacations, especially now that COVID-19 case numbers are dropping.

Some examples from the article:

A stay at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas this Saturday starts at $650, according to prices listed on Hotels.com. Last week, a weekend stay started at $325. A stay at Red Rock Resort went from $188 to $399 in that same time span.


At Circa, rooms start at $399 this Saturday, up $100 compared with rooms last weekend, according to the company’s website. The tournament promises to bring plenty of business to the downtown property and its three-story sportsbook, even with a 50 percent casino floor occupancy limit in place.


The room rates are definitely much higher than at any time in the past year. Even so, there are signs that the market isn’t that tight in terms of demand and the resulting occupancy rate. You’ll seldom get a good rate in Las Vegas if you want to just stay over the weekend and book your stay through the hotel website. While there will be plenty of ‘weekend only’ demand any serious sports bettor would want to be there Thursday through Sunday. That’s where we’ll start our price research and we won’t go through the casino websites to get it.

The first search was for reservations checking in Wednesday night and checking out Monday morning. You might even be able to catch the ‘First Four’ play in games.


My first stop was at Priceline and while prices per night are definitely higher than they’ve been in some time they’re not prohibitively high. With the disclaimer that I book a lot of travel through Priceline and have ‘VIP Status’ that (supposedly) offers me lowest rates here’s what I found out. Also, I don’t take resort fees into account.

The highest price per night is at the Cosmopolitan:

Also topping the $200 mark is IMO the best hotel in town the Waldorf-Astoria:

After that, it gets downright reasonable. The Wynn is $192 per night:

The Venetian, Palazzo, Caesars Palace and Aria are all first rate hotels and each can be yours for $150 per night. There are a few rooms to be had that I’d rank as a downright steal. The Delano Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay for $81 a night definitely qualifies.

If you want to stay at Circa you’re probably out of luck. That said, there are some decent properties downtown available. The Downtown Grand is one of my favorite non-Circa properties downtown and it can be had for $89 a night:

The D Las Vegas is a bit cheaper than that:

I didn’t even check any of the Express Deals–if you know what you’re doing it isn’t hard to find out which hotels are the ‘secret deal’. At some point, I’ll do an article about this.

The story is the same at Hotwire and there are some more good deals if you know what you’re doing. At Hotwire the ‘mystery’ Hot Rate deals are the way to go. Citywide the average rate at Hotwire is $150 a night for Wednesday–Monday and $130 a night for the Hot Rate deals.

I have exacting standards when it comes to hotels–in a typical year I’m in hotels 150+ nights a year trying to get work done. Spending the extra ducats for a 4 1/2 or 5 star hotel is an investment in my line of work. Just looking at five star hotels there are some awesome deals like this Hot Rate deal:

Spoiler alert: the secret identity is the hotel that I’d also rank right up there with the Waldorf-Astoria as one of the best in the city aka the Four Seasons:

Hotels.com is generally a sucker bet but there are plenty of rooms at fine hotels though you’ll pay a bit more than at Priceline or Hotwire. They’ve even got a few rooms at Circa available at the time of my writing:

In the second part of this article, we’ll look at the ‘Weekend Only’ rates and then summarize our findings. Here’s the link:


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