The Raiders’ push to Las Vegas could soon hit a roadblock.
Amid gradual-but-real momentum that the Raiders may move from Oakland to Nevada, a fight among ownership could be looming. Round one could happen later this month, when owners gather in Houston for a quarterly meeting.
Influential owners like Jerry Jones of the Cowboys want to put a team in a market that makes up for a lack of size with a lot of sizzle. More traditional owners are beginning to become more and more concerned about the possibility of putting a franchise in the nation’s gambling capital, per a source with knowledge of the situation.
For now, those opposed to having a team in Las Vegas have been quiet. Giants owner John Mara at one point suggested that gambling would be a non-starter for a potential Vegas move. (He has since softened his assessment.) No other owners have spoken publicly in such blunt terms — or in any terms at all.
As the wheels continue to move toward a potential move, it’s believed that more and more owners will ask tough questions about the wisdom of having players living in an environment where gambling is prevalent, where prostitution is legal, and where drug use is commonplace.
The argument, as to the gambling, will be that plenty of teams are headquartered in cities where casinos are accessible. Still, there’s no NFL team in a city where gambling is everywhere, in all forms and fashions including wagering on sports. With plenty of young players on every NFL team, the temptations will result in plenty of concerns about their friendships and associations in a town where all roads and walkways lead to a place where bets are made.
Then there’s the reality that Oakland is rebounding, and that it could be a viable location for the Raiders if/when a stadium solution can be identified. The problem is that an Oakland stadium likely would have to be built without public money. In Las Vegas, up to $750 million in free cash could be available.
The move can be blocked with only nine owners (unless, of course, Raiders owner Mark Davis chooses to sue in an effort to force his was to Las Vegas). As of May, those who know the lay of the land were having a hard time spotting nine no votes. Now that the move is starting to crystallize, it could be time for nine or more to smash the idea into smithereens.