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NRL 2024 kicks off in Las Vegas

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The 2024 NRL Telstra Premiership season is kicking off in a big and exciting way this weekend, with a special event that’s a first in rugby league history.

Two of the opening games of the season will be played in the United States, making it the first time regular season games have been held on American soil. The games will feature the Roosters against the Broncos and the Sea Eagles versus the Rabbitohs, all taking place at the famous Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, which recently hosted the Super Bowl.

This move to hold games in Las Vegas is seen as a bold strategy by the NRL to reach out to new fans outside of Australia and New Zealand. The choice of Las Vegas, with its 65,000-seat stadium, is ambitious and aims to attract a large crowd to the sport that’s relatively unknown in the US. But there’s more to this decision than just trying to win over new rugby league fans.

A key reason for choosing Las Vegas is to tap into the city’s massive sports betting market. Since the US Supreme Court made changes to sports betting laws in 2018, there’s been a big opportunity for sports like rugby league to get involved in this lucrative industry. By bringing games to the heart of the gambling world, the NRL is looking to grow its presence and profits in the US.

However, this venture hasn’t been without its challenges, especially when it comes to getting visas for players with past offences. High-profile meetings with the US Consulate were necessary to ensure key players and staff could enter the country for the games.

This isn’t the first time rugby league has tried to make its mark in the US. Previous matches, like the 2018 game between England and the Kiwis in Denver and a 1987 State of Origin exhibition match in California, were attempts to introduce the sport to American audiences.

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