If NFL’s Raiders To Las Vegas Is A Done Deal, The Proof Is In The Pudding On Sports Betting

Posted on March 24, 2017

[toc]Recent reports make it seem like a near certainly that an NFL franchise is headed to Las Vegas.

What does that actually mean for the future of sports betting in the US? We can’t fully answer that question quite yet.

First off, the Raiders to Vegas?

There has been increasing chatter that a deal to move the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas in recent weeks.

The latest positive sign came today:

Planning a party seems like a pretty good indication that the move is actually going to happen.

The NFL and sports betting, gambling

Here’s the thing we do know about the NFL and Vegas: It doesn’t seem like too many people have a problem with the fact that betting — in particular sports betting — goes on in Vegas.

That much is evidenced by the simple act of putting a franchise in the cradle of US gambling, and the only place in the US where legal single-game sports betting goes on.

More from SI.com’s Monday Morning Quarterback:

“From a gambling standpoint? That’s a joke to even say that’d be a problem,” said one AFC owner. “That was an issue decades ago. Now? Sports gambling is going to be legal. We might as well embrace it and become part of the solution, rather than fight it. It’s in everyone’s best interests for it to be above-board.”

Said an NFC owner: “The first question, naturally, is going to be about gambling. But any of us can pull our phones out of our pockets and place a bet right now. [The concern] is not 100 percent put to bed, but it’s relatively put to bed, just because of technology today.”

What will the NFL’s official position be on sports betting? That’s a complicated question.

What will the NFL do about sports betting if and when it’s in Vegas?

Being okay with the “idea” of sports betting is one thing. It’s an altogether different matter when dealing with it as it directly applies to the NFL.

Despite the relatively outspoken — and anonymous — owners that spoke with SI, the official NFL position on sports betting is it is bad for business. Commissioner Roger Goodell has made it clear over and over that the NFL doesn’t like sports betting. How much of that is a public stance and how strongly it is held privately is not known.

This will be the real sense of where the NFL stands on sports betting: Will it try to prevent Nevada sportsbooks from taking bets on Raiders games?

Yes, it would have been unthinkable to have pro franchises in Las Vegas a decade ago. Now we’re about to have two.

But if the NFL says that Vegas shouldn’t take bets on the games, the momentum for sports betting in the US takes a step backward. The American Gaming Association and others argue that legalizing sports betting is actually a good thing for game integrity, among other things.

If the NFL says “game on” for betting on the Raiders, that might arguably be the most significant step to date as the US attempts to get rid of the federal ban on sports wagering.

Image credit: dean bertoncelj / Shutterstock.com

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Dustin Gouker

Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.

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