Las Vegas, home to desert temperatures, well-lit casinos, and all-you-can-eat buffets open at 2:00 a.m. is also home to some of the biggest sporting events in the world. Casino gambling is worldwide, but, in the United States, Las Vegas is the only place where betting on sports is legal, making it a hotbed for the big events like boxing, wrestling, and mixed martial arts.
Las Vegas wasn’t always known for hosting the biggest knock-down, drag-out professional contests in the world, but entertainment has been a focal point since the beginning. Las Vegas became officially known as a town in 1905. A Wild West town even then, it established the first rodeo in 1923, while the first golf course opened in 1927. Professional boxing, pro wrestling, and mixed martial arts weren’t even on the horizon for Sin City.
Caesar’s Palace opened its doors in 1966, one of many casinos to open in the 60s. By the early 1980s, Caesar’s Palace was the place to see some of the biggest professional boxing matches in the world. Sugar Ray Leonard, Evander Holyfield, and Muhammad Ali, to name a few, fought in the ring at Caesar’s. During the 1990s, Oscar de la Hoya and Shane Mosley also appeared at the Palace. Pro wrestling made brief appearances at Caesar’s Palace during the 90s. WWE Wrestlemania IX was the only Wrestlemania with a theme, thanks to the Roman inspiration of the location.
The original MGM Grand Hotel and Casino opened in 1973 but wasn’t known as a sporting haven until the name transferred to a new location and re-opened in 1993. The MGM Grand Garden Arena was home to several boxing superfights in the 1990s with names like Mike Tyson, Oscar de la Hoya, and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. fighting in the ring.
Since 1997, the Arena is home to the mixed martial arts Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) PPV events. The Garden Arena has also been home to indoor soccer, women’s volleyball, and several WCW Monday Nitro events.
Filled with tourists looking to win a few dollars, eat cheap food, and see the lights, Las Vegas is also the home of some of the biggest sporting events in the world and thanks to local laws, fans and anyone with a good hunch can watch history in the making and possibly win big.