With the Oakland Raiders moving to the gambling capital of the nation and playing in a stadium built in large part by a tax on hotel rooms rented by those who go there to gamble, the link between the new venue and gambling already was obvious. That didn’t stop USA Today from publishing a lengthy article documenting the obvious.
Yes, as the headline declares, the “Raiders’ stadium in Las Vegas has deep ties to gambling industry.” Most people realized this the moment the Raiders decided to build a stadium in Las Vegas. And yet the item from Brent Schrotenboer reads as if no one previously would have recognized the clear connection between Las Vegas and gambling.
“The new NFL stadium in Las Vegas doesn’t yet have a name and isn’t expected to open until 2020. But when it does, at least one nickname certainly will apply: The House That Gambling Built,” the first paragraph of the article states. To that we say: Duh.
“The $1.9 billion project never would have made it through the state legislature – or attracted the Oakland Raiders – without the support of the gambling industry, according to experts and the legislative record,” says the second paragraph of the article. Thank heavens for those experts, and for the legislative record; otherwise, it would have been impossible to realize that the gambling industry supported a tax on the customers of their hotels that will generate $750 million in free money for the NFL.
Of course the gambling industry was instrumental to this one. The project initially got off the ground with the assistance of Sands casino owner Sheldon Adelson, who helped get the Nevada Legislature to make the three-quarter-billion-dollar investment in a football stadium. Even though Adelson has since bowed out, the stadium won’t maximize its revenue potential without gambling concerns purchasing suites luxury suites and naming rights and other bells-and-whistles that will both allow the gambling industry to promote itself and that will allow the Raiders to make as much money as possible. Indeed, if those businesses can’t buy items of that type for a Las Vegas stadium, who will?
The real question isn’t where the ball currently is resting but where it will skitter next as the roulette wheels of legalized gambling and pro football continue to spin, in directions that Roger Goodell would have us all believe are opposite. They aren’t.
The federal law that limits the expansion of sports betting eventually could be changed (against the likely objection of the state that laid the foundation for that effort by luring the Raiders to town), and then the individual states could begin, to the chagrin of Nevada, to legalize sports betting without limitation from the provision the NFL has used to prevent the spread of sports wagering in the past.
As the states embrace sports wagering one by one, the NFL eventually will slide onto the scene, looking for a way to finally get a cut of the billions of dollars that change hands among gamblers. Years from now, that could happen as easily as dialing up a team’s website and placing a bet.
Regardless of where it goes from here, the Raiders are moving to Las Vegas not in spite of gambling but because of it. For the league, allowing the move wasn’t an aberration but the biggest tangible step yet in the league’s effort to get to the stated goal of $25 billion per year in revenue by dipping its beak in the ocean of currently illegal bets made every year from sea to shining sea.