AGA welcomes reports of NHL Vegas move

AGA welcomes reports of NHL Vegas move

Thursday, June 16, 2016 Totally Gaming
Geoff Freeman said the relationship between fans and sporting events is changing

Geoff Freeman, chief executive of the American Gaming Association (AGA), has welcomed reports that Las Vegas could be set for its first major sports franchise as an opportunity for the growth of legalised and regulated betting in the US.

The Associated Press (AP) agency reported earlier this week that the NHL ice hockey league has decided that the Nevada city should become home to its next expansion franchise, provided organisers can come up with a $500m (€447m) fee.

Sports leagues have long been cautious of allowing their teams to play in Las Vegas, primarily through fear of betting irregularities and corruption. However, the NHL seems to have softened its stance, while the NBA and NFL, the bodies that run basketball and American football, have also signalled that their long-standing opposition to legalised sports betting has changed. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently told ESPN that "all of us have evolved a little bit" on gambling, with plans for the Oakland Raiders franchise to move to Las Vegas continuing to progress.

The NHL’s decision on Las Vegas, which should be confirmed next week, is a turning point in Freeman’s view, with the AGA chief executive telling reporters that the rise of fantasy sports shows the appetite for betting.

Freeman said:“It’s time for a new approach to sports betting that eliminates the federal prohibition and recognises what the NHL, NBA and others have acknowledged through the rise of daily fantasy sports — today’s fans are seeking greater engagement with the sports, teams and players they enjoy. A regulated and transparent market is the best approach for ensuring integrity in the sports.

“I’m not sitting here as a champion for Las Vegas, encouraging every sports league to go there. I’m simply saying what the NHL did is acknowledge that the industry has gone mainstream. There’s greater comfort with the industry than ever before, and I think for the sake of Las Vegas, you may well see a similar move from other leagues in the not-too-distant future.”

TotallyGaming.com says: “The AGA pointed out recently that 80 per cent of NHL teams are now based within an hour of a casino, which shows how legislation over the last decade has already changed the relationship between sports teams and the gambling industry. It seems that the major leagues are beginning to understand that times are changing, and Freeman is correct to point out that fans now also want a different relationship with professional sport.”

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