NFL chief gives support to Las Vegas franchise

NFL chief gives support to Las Vegas franchise

Tuesday, May 3, 2016 Totally Gaming
Roger Goodell said his organisation's view of betting has changed

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has admitted that his organisation’s attitude towards betting has “evolved” as plans for the Oakland Raiders franchise to move to Las Vegas progressed.

Raiders’ owner Mark Davis has declared that he wants to move the franchise to the Nevada city and has vowed to contribute $500m (€439m) towards the construction of a new 65,000-seater stadium. Other investors in the project include Sands Corp, owner of the Las Vegas Sands casino resort, while tourism taxes would also contribute $750m.

Las Vegas is one of the largest cities in the US without a major league sports team, with the authorities having traditionally opposed a move to the gambling mecca through fears over sports integrity and the influence of betting on games. The NFL has taken the toughest stance, even refusing to accept Las Vegas tourism advertising during broadcasts, and has joined the MLB, NBA and NHL in opposing the legalisation of sports betting in New Jersey in recent years.

However, NBA commissioner Adam Silver in 2014 said he wanted to lobby Congress for the widespread legalisation of sports betting in the US, while the huge money generated by marketing deals with daily fantasy sports (DFS) operators has undoubtedly whet the appetites of both the governing bodies and franchises.

Questioned by the media on the possibility of the Raiders moving to Las Vegas, Goodell said: “All of us have evolved a little on gambling. To me, where I cross the line is anything that can impact the integrity of the game. If people think it is something that can influence the outcome of a game, we are absolutely opposed to that.”

As well as finalising the construction of the Las Vegas arena, Davis must also convince three quarters of the 32 NFL franchise team owners that the Raiders should be allowed to relocate to the city. The development came as Nevada announced record sportsbook revenue of $458m in March.

American Gaming Association (AGA) president Geoff Freeman said the NFL should not be concerned by the perceived integrity issues raised by staging high-profile sports events in Nevada. He said: “Nothing threatens the integrity of sports more than a thriving and opaque sports betting black market where the bettors and those taking the bets hide in the shadows.”

TotallyGaming.com says: “The possibility of a major sports team playing in Las Vegas would further expand the city’s gaming and non-gaming revenues thanks to the huge increase in tourists. It seems the NFL has joined the NBA in softening its stance against sports betting, which could be crucial in the sector becoming legal across the US.” 

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