The Super Bowl is one of the biggest annual sporting events in America. This year, it takes place on Feb. 11 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
A massive 330,000 visitors are expected to travel to the city for the event, making an estimated $600 million impact on the local economy, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
Most of the world is focused on the game being played between the San Franciso 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs. However, law enforcement and important organizations are focused on fighting human trafficking.
When it comes to Super Bowl human trafficking statistics, there is no data to support reports of this crime increasing around the game each year. However, it is widely believed that human trafficking typically occurs more often in the shadow of large events.
Here’s what we DO know:
Human trafficking is a global pandemic, and the United States is no exception. In fact, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, human trafficking has been reported in all 50 states as of 2022.
Additionally, Nevada has the third highest rate of human trafficking in the country. In 2021, the National Human Trafficking Hotline received 571 tips, leading to 201 cases involving a total of 296 victims, the majority being women and children.
Human trafficking is illegal under both Nevada and federal laws. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 forbids labor and sex trafficking, therefore claims of human trafficking in Nevada are frequently heard in federal court. According to Nevada law, human trafficking is a Class B felony, punishable by five years in the Nevada state prison system and a $50,000 maximum fine.
Nevada’s “Sin City,” a place already known for many issues regarding exploitation and trafficking, serves as recent proof of the ever-present problem. In November of 2023, the Las Vegas Metro Police Department (LVMPD) arrested 70+ men during a human trafficking operation the week of the Las Vegas Grand Prix.
With the Super Bowl being a much larger event, authorities, organizations, and the National Football League (NFL) are preparing accordingly.
Each year, the NFL and Super Bowl Host Committee donate to a non-profit that fights human trafficking. This year, they chose Signs of Hope, a Las Vegas-based NGO.
“No one knows Vegas better than those of us who form community here, and the host committee took it upon ourselves to make the recommendation for a local representative that really understood what this community needs,” Myisha Boyce, chief community engagement officer for the Las Vegas Super Bowl Host Committee, told Las Vegas Weekly.
Founded in 1974, Signs of Hope has a program that specializes in human trafficking services. After partnering with the LVMPD vice division for anti-trafficking efforts during the Las Vegas Grand Prix, the program is doing so again for the Super Bowl.
“Through their Resources and Integration for Survivor Empowerment (RISE) program, Signs of Hope will be joining Metro’s vice division to identify and provide resources for victims of human trafficking.” (Las Vegas Sun)
The collaboration is expected to be very impactful.
In a January 2024 letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and members of the Nevada Congressional delegation shared a desire to work together with the league and Super Bowl authorities to combat human trafficking.
“We are eager to work with you to make sure that Nevada, the United States, and the NFL are prepared to crack down on human trafficking ahead of the Super Bowl and in the future,” the letter read in part.
Major hospitality companies with a large presence in Las Vegas have also taken a public stance against the issue. This includes Airbnb, Caesars Entertainment, Hilton, IHG Hotels & Resorts, MGM Resorts International, and Wynn Resorts.
They have all endorsed Team Up Against Human Trafficking, an initiative that takes place around major sporting events with a goal of raising awareness and educating the public about the crime, exploitation, and abuse.
Organized by It’s A Penalty, a non-profit organization based in the United Kingdom, the public awareness campaign features ambassadors from the city’s NFL team, the Las Vegas Raiders. Players Maxx Crosby and Josh Jacobs will appear in a 30-second ad on American Airlines flights.
And there will be a lot of flights.
A spokesperson from the Federal Aviation Administration said that 3,500 additional takeoffs and landings are expected at Las Vegas area airports because of the Super Bowl.
The fight against suspected Super Bowl human trafficking in Las Vegas will be a collective effort. Local law enforcement, politicians, hospitality companies, and non-profit organizations are in it together.
We invite you to get involved by becoming informed and raising awareness! Learn the signs of human trafficking, debunk myths about it, rep the cause, and donate today to join the fight! At O.U.R., we work to empower law enforcement all around the country with the tools and resources they need to combat this heinous crime. You can help make a difference by sharing this story with your friends and family, sparking important conversations. Trafficking is a hidden crime – let's help end it by speaking up.