James Vlahos:

By the opening kickoff of the Super Bowl, sports books in Nevada are expected to crack $100 million in wagers, the most that has ever been bet on a single game.

There is no greater unifier in American culture than professional football, which is followed by 68 percent of men and 42 percent of women — Republicans and Democrats in equal numbers. Game telecasts accounted for nine of the 10 most-watched programs in 2013, and the previous three Super Bowls were the most-viewed television programs of all time in the United States.

Crazy stats from a must-read on the state of sports gambling — which, I agree, is fueling the continued rise of the NFL at this point. I happened to be in Las Vegas during the AFC and NFC Championship Games last week, it was absolute mayhem. In every casino. Everywhere.

The Vegas

I can never decide if I absolutely love Las Vegas or if I absolutely hate it. I believe it’s a little bit of both. It’s undoubtedly one of the most divisive cities in the world, but it’s also the most divisive in my own head.

I first came to Vegas shortly after turning 21. I stayed for a week. Rookie mistake. Everyone who has ever been to Vegas knows that three days is the maximum you can stay in the city without going absolutely insane.

So this weekend I find myself in Las Vegas again. For three days.

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Adam Nagourney on the shift underway in Las Veags:

In 1984, the city’s sprawling casinos accounted for 59 percent of all the money collected on the Strip. Last year, gambling made up just 36 percent of the revenue. Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, took in $9.4 billion in gambling revenue last year, up from the year before but still far short of the $10.8 billion during the peak year of 2007, according to statistics from the Center for Gaming Research.

So what are people doing instead?

“Gaming went down more than total visitor spending, by a greater percentage,” said Stephen P. A. Brown, the director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “The visitors who have come back are here for clubs and shopping. They’re buying swimsuits to go to the day clubs and evening clothes to go to the nightclubs. That’s the big growth.” “I think what’s going on here is we’re seeing a shift away from Las Vegas as the only gaming destination in the United States to being one of many gaming destinations,” Mr. Brown said. “But it is holding up as a tourist destination.”

Shopping. What would Bugsy Siegel think? At least they’re still drinking.