Every Super Bowl Sunday, thousands of gamblers head to the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino, the largest of its kind in northern Nevada, to bet on the big game and party with fellow football fans. High rollers dine on all-you-can-eat buffets and the champagne flows in V.I.P. rooms throughout the massive complex. Long lines snake out of the William Hill Sportsbook just off the casino floor.
But the action this year was supercharged because the Super Bowl included the San Francisco 49ers, and many of the team’s fans in California, where sports betting is still illegal, crossed the border into Nevada to lay down bets and celebrate with their brethren.
Some of the fans considered traveling to Las Vegas, where the Super Bowl was played for the first time this year. But they did not want to battle the crowds only to pay daunting prices for hotels and meals. Reno may lack the buzz of Las Vegas, they said, but the self-proclaimed Biggest Little City in the World had the benefit of being affordable and convenient, roughly a four-hour drive from the Bay Area.
“I could have gone to Vegas, but everything’s hiked up there,” said Daniel Burnett, a 49ers fan from San Francisco who stayed the weekend at the Grand Sierra. “Here, everything’s in one place.”
Everything, it seems, but a 49ers win. They fell to the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime, 25-22, leaving many San Francisco fans at the casino stunned, and a few in tears.
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