News about the potential relocation of Californian Professional American football team, The Oakland Raiders, to the City of Lights, has gotten everyone curious about the prospect of the NFL condoning to sports betting in Las Vegas following the move.
Jay Rood, the Director of Race and Sports at MGM Resorts International, has made waves with his response. Rood, who sets the betting line for properties such as the MGM Grand, Mirage, Mandalay Bay and New York-New York, said “You come to Vegas; you take Vegas the way Vegas is.”
Mark Davis is ready
Mark Davis, current owner of the Raiders, has expressed interest in the move; he would bring USD 500 million for the construction of a brand new stadium, which is estimated to cost over USD 1 billion; Davies would also be expecting USD 150 million that Sheldon Adelson, the founder, Chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Stands Corp., has promised him. A USD 750 million tourism tax, which could be approved as early as August, this year, could end up setting the stage for a January NFL approval.
Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, stated, earlier this week, that he is in favor of the move; he added that the move is particularly exciting because Las Vegas acquiring their own NFL team would see the entertainment aspect outweigh any gambling concerns. However, whether the NFL would be keen on having sportsbooks as neighbors is another matter.
How to handle gambling?
Given that 24 of 32 teams need to approve a relocation filing, something that is yet to happen, an NFL spokesman, questioned last week, refused to speculate on the issue
American Federal laws ban sports betting in a large majority of states in the country and the NFL seems unsure of the gambling aspect of relocating to Vegas; this has gotten everyone pondering whether the league would place a condition that there be no gambling on the teams’ local games in Nevada sports books?
Jay Kornegay, the race and sports book director of the Westgate Superbook, said, “As much as we want to see a pro franchise, I certainly would not be in favor of taking those games off the board. It’d be sending the wrong message. It’s stating something is wrong with the industry.”
Kornegay mentioned that past objections from Senator John McCain, regarding college level sports betting in Nevada, did not stop the addition of wagering on teams from UNLV and Nevada, in 2001.
However, when the NBA asked Nevada books to prohibit betting on their 2007 All-Star game, they cooperated.
“Future sports betting, when it spreads across the United States, will be modelled after Nevada,” Rood said. “We’re one of the most highly regulated industries in America. I’d put us up against any banking or Wall Street regulations. That’s stringent and I would think the leagues will embrace that. We want the same thing the leagues want: games played with integrity.”
The big betting business
A report by the American Gaming Association, which was released last year, stated that if allowed, a sum of USD 2 billion would have been bet on NFL and college football in U.S. sports books last season, with another USD 93 billion gambled online and/or illegally on the sport.
Kornegay also stated that being able to bet on the home team is “not a non-issue, but it’s not a hot topic. It’s not a cover story.”
It is highly likely that The NFL will see the regulations. They are pushing more games in England that accept wagers and looking toward mobile gaming. Kornegay also expressed that there is no harm in taking wagers on teams that call Vegas their home.
Rood said that NFL betting represents “less than 1/10th of 1 percent of the entire drop;” and the league should be more concerned about the pull of the nightlife at Sin City and the effect it will have on the young and rich athletes. Rood added, “You can go to a different club every night for the entire month.”
If the Raider do relocate to Las Vegasm the bets on the team are definitely going to increase; this has been proven by the Pac-12 Conference men’s basketball tournament, which shifted from the Staples Center to Las Vegas and by the introduction of the NASCAR stop in Las Vegas; both occasions were marked by a 20 per cent increase in wagers compared to similar events taking place out of town.
Rood also said that Raiders fandom, especially in Northern Nevada is as strong as the usually popular Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots and the Cowboys.
He said, “They have a strong fan base, but they don’t have a foolish fan base. When there’s a spot for support, they take it.”
Kornegay and Rood, both agree that the arrival of an NFL team to Vegas would be a blessing for the sports books.
“No doubt about that,” Rood said. “You’ll have people going to the games, tourists from out of town going – all of them wanting to bet.”
Kornegay added, “The climate has changed dramatically, and our society has accepted it more than at any other time. That dark cloud over sports gambling is still there, but as people work to understand it, they’re not so much against it. They understand most fixed games happen underground. You don’t ask about unusual betting at your street corner.”