The Oakland Raiders could bet on Las Vegas to provide a new home in the form of a brand new $1 billion dollar domed stadium. The NFL refuses to comment on the possibility or the potential issue with sports betting, but local bookmakers don’t foresee any issues if the move does go through.
When the NFL approved a plan for the St. Louis Rams to move to Los Angeles, with provisions for the Chargers to join them, the Oakland Raiders were essentially left without a home. The team’s lease in Oakland is up, and owner Mark Davis has no interest in signing a new lease that would lock his team into the outdated O.Co Coliseum for an extended amount of time.
Fox Sports reports that the Raiders could sign a short term lease to stay in Oakland for the 2016 season, but Las Vegas is a much more attractive option.
The Raiders were one of three NFL teams that expressed serious interest in relocating to Los Angeles last season. While the move would have been a natural fit for the Raiders, considering the team’s history in LA, Mark Davis was sent home with hat in hand.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Davis was offered $100 million as a consolation prize to help pay for a new stadium in Oakland, along with the option to join the Rams in LA if the Chargers should decline the opportunity.
For the Raiders, the catch is that any new stadium must be built within one year, or the NFL’s money goes away.
In meeting with Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson, Mark Davis is betting that one of two things will happen. Either the Raiders will find a new home in Las Vegas, or the very real threat of the Raiders leaving Oakland could shake loose enough public money to build a new stadium back home in Alameda County.
NBC Sports reports that relocating a football team to Las Vegas could prove to be an issue due to the legality of gambling in Nevada. The NFL has declined to locate a Pro Bowl, or any other game, in Las Vegas in the past. In fact, the league even refused to allow Tony Romo to host a fantasy football convention in Vegas last year.
The venue for Romo’s cancelled event, coincidentally, was owned by the Las Vegas Sands.
So far, the NFL has remained silent on the subject of the Raiders moving to Las Vegas. In a statement issued to NBC Sports, an NFL spokesman fired off a terse “We do not have a comment.”
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, local bookmakers, businessmen, and officials don’t see any problems with the proposed move.
Although the NFL has taken a hard line stance against sports betting in the past, the issue has been murky ever since the league started sanctioning games in London. While London isn’t known for gambling like Las Vegas is, sports betting is legal there. In fact, there are legal betting parlors located right across the street from NFL-sanctioned games played at Wembley Stadium.
“You go play in London, so that would be the plus side of the argument from our side,” Vegas oddsmaker Jimmy Vaccaro told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, pointing out the hypocrisy that would be involved in refusing to allow the Raiders to move to Las Vegas while simultaneously promoting the idea of an NFL team permanently relocating to London.
Another local bookmaker, Nick Bogdanovich, also expressed support for the move.
“Of all the teams to come here, the Raiders would be the perfect fit,” Bogdanovich told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “It’s a renegade team. We’re ready for a franchise. I think they would sell out every game with no problem.”
When asked about the issue of sports betting in connection with locating an NFL team in Las Vegas, Bogdanovich suggested that “the climate is changing and changing fast. Everyone knows it. It’s just a matter of when it happens.”
Others foresee the NFL approving the move with certain conditions, like a stipulation that betting be disallowed on games played by the Las Vegas Raiders.
While there is a history of banning sports betting on local teams, specifically college teams located in Nevada, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that ban was lifted in 2001. Since then, bookmakers have been allowed to take bets on local college teams.
“The NFL might say, ‘If we come there, you can’t book the games,’” Jay Rood, the sports book director for MGM Resorts, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Under no circumstances should that be allowed. It makes the casino industry appear hypocritical.”
If the Raiders bet on Las Vegas pays off, it could mean a brand new $1 billion stadium that the team would share with the UNLV, or it could pay out with more public money from Oakland or Alameda County to help finance a new stadium in the Bay Area. If that falls through, and the Chargers move to LA, there is also a chance that the Raiders could move to San Diego.
Do you think that the Raiders will really move to Las Vegas, or is this just another bargaining tactic that we’ll see more of in the future, with teams threatening to bet it all on Vegas to get more public money back home?
[Photo by Paul Sancya/John Locher/AP]