Why the NFL Once Shunned Las Vegas and Why That Changed

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Posted on: February 5, 2024, 02:26h. 

Last updated on: February 5, 2024, 08:44h.

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This Sunday, an thought that would person seemed preposterous conscionable a decade agone will go reality. What happens successful Vegas now includes nan Super Bowl.

This was A.I.’s consequence erstwhile asked to make an image of an NFL subordinate placing a stake successful a Las Vegas casino sportsbook. (Image: ChatGPT)

As Bellagio Lake gets remade into a hub for nationalist CBS Sports sum — for which nan Luxor is wrapped arsenic a elephantine Dorito — nan NFL and Las Vegas mightiness look to galore for illustration a earthy fit. But until 2015, nan thought of Las Vegas ever moreover hosting a master sports squad seemed for illustration a foolish stake to take.

Size Matters

Though Sin City had been a awesome tourer destination since nan 1950s, its section organization was nan first stumbling block. Clark County wouldn’t moreover boast half a cardinal residents until 1982. That wasn’t considered astir capable of a location guidelines by immoderate of nan 4 awesome master sports leagues.

So, for illustration galore different residents of secondary US cities, Las Vegans learned not to group their hopes immoderate higher than nan insignificant leagues.

However, nan organization of nan Las Vegas metropolitan region reached 1 cardinal successful 1995, past doubled that by 2009, increasing astatine nan third-fastest complaint successful nan country. Suddenly, Las Vegas was 1 of nan largest US cities without a awesome convention sports team.

And that’s because organization wasn’t nan only issue.

Don’t Bet connected It

The pro leagues simply wouldn’t see Las Vegas for a relocation aliases description squad because it seemed excessively risky to spot a squad wherever sports betting was not only ineligible but portion of nan community’s lifeblood. Since nan mid-1990s, dozens of pro-league presidents and squad owners person uttered immoderate variety of nan “it’ll ne'er happen” quote.

That’s because sports fans tin forgive bigotry, harassment, and moreover immoderate superior crimes committed by players and coaches. But erstwhile it comes to betting connected nan outcomes of events successful which they participate, moreover nan quality of impropriety was a statement that couldn’t beryllium crossed. It’s why nan names Pete Rose and nan Chicago Black Sox person ne'er exited nan nationalist consciousness.

Of each nan pro leagues, nan NFL had nan toughest stance toward Las Vegas.

Before nan US Supreme Court rejected nan national prohibition connected sports betting successful 2018, nan NFL prohibited its players from wagering connected immoderate sports games. That meant an progressive subordinate couldn’t moreover sojourn Las Vegas and spot a stake connected a March Madness crippled aliases stake connected nan NBA playoffs.

Citing a clause successful its TV contracts prohibiting gambling-related ads, nan NFL moreover refused to tally nan “What Happens Here…” Vegas tourism commercialized during nan 2003 Super Bowl, though nan advertisement didn’t moreover mention gambling aliases casinos.

“The NFL cannot beryllium compensated successful damages for nan harm sports gambling poses to nan goodwill, character, and integrity of NFL shot and to nan basal bonds of loyalty and devotion betwixt fans and squad that nan League seeks to maintain,” early NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, past its elder VP of broadcasting, wrote successful 2012 grounds for a suit to artifact then-New Jersey politician Chris Christie’s bid to legalize sports betting successful his state.

A Different Game

The tide began changing successful 2015. That’s erstwhile Raiders proprietor Mark Davis now admits to secretly gathering pinch Bo Bernhard, past head of nan UNLV International Gaming Institute. That gathering resulted successful a achromatic insubstantial Davis took to nan convention to make his lawsuit for Las Vegas arsenic an NFL town.

NFL owners approved nan Raiders’ plans to relocate from Oakland 2 years later. That aforesaid year, nan Las Vegas Golden Knights NHL squad proved that master sports could past successful Las Vegas without a betting ungraded and thrive.

The pro leagues’ abrupt about-face connected Las Vegas besides resulted from changing governmental and technological landscapes.

After nan Supreme Court decision, states beyond Nevada lined up to legalize sports betting. It’s ineligible successful 38 states, nan District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. With betting now conscionable a mates of clicks of a smartphone distant for astir adults, Las Vegas and its casinos nary longer airs nan aforesaid unsocial marque of existential threat.

In 2021, nan NFL struck its ain sports betting business deals pinch Caesars Entertainment, DraftKings, and FanDuel. By 2022, nan NFL held its first draught and 2 of its Pro Bowls successful Las Vegas. And, successful September, NFL team-branded slot machines moreover deed nan floors astatine immoderate Vegas casinos.

“It was our occupation to make judge we respond to nan world astir us,” David Highhill, nan NFL’s wide head for sports betting, told ABC News.

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