One issue was surely decided by all NFL owners this week. The Oakland Raiders will be targeting their fortune upon Las Vegas in the very near future. However, the larger issue affecting us WILL NOT be decided for a much longer period of time. At stake, will you and I be able to make a legalized bet in the U.S. on an NFL football game outside of the state of Nevada. Or on Major League Baseball, NBA basketball, NHL pucks in the net, whatever.
A great prop I suggest posting this week at the top sportsbooks would be, "Will you and I live long enough to see legalized wagering in the U.S. outside Nevada ever happen?" Or to be more optimistic, perhaps an Over/Under line of 5.5 years from now. Not to be cynical but the first shovel into the ground planned for this NFL Vegas stadium comes with more lobbyists & politicians than construction workers.
A Landmark Achievement
The most groundbreaking achievement ever occurred on Monday. With 31 of the 32 owners voting Yes (except the Miami Dolphins), it signaled the most significant progress ever toward the potential to see sports wagering legalized. The sheer fact that the NFL allowed a team into Vegas could not have been possible only ten years ago. Not when ultra-conservative and politically connected NFL commissioner Roger Goodell took control. A number of internal and external league issues have made it possible but Goodell remains adamantly against expanding legalizing sports gambling in any form. Add that to the long list why he'll traditionally get booed off the stage next month as the annual NFL Draft heads to Philadelphia.
Ironically, the endorsement for gambling mecca Las Vegas coming from the commissioner, backed by 97% of the owners had nothing to do with previous or current fears tying players to potential gambling scandals. The reality is casinos exist virtually everywhere in the U.S. with opportunity for trouble in any metropolitan area. Las Vegas may be "sin city" but bars are open until 5AM in Green Bay with casinos nearby to Buffalo. And even if they played all NFL games in Salt Lake City, there exists a computer or a WIFI signal to place a significant bet at Bovada, BetOnline, Diamond Sports or many other major offshore sportsbooks to get any size sports wager down. Therefore, who is anybody kidding?
Silver, Black and GREEN
I feel for Raiders fans. It's one thing for your team to leave you once, but twice is a bit tough to absorb. I say don't show up next season with painted faces and leave Oakland Alameda Coliseum Stadium empty. Worse is that the Raiders have finally built a Super Bowl contending team after many awful seasons. The New England Patriots are predictably the futures Super Bowl leader at Diamond Sports (+400), but Oakland is a very respectable current sixth choice at +1600. To see Las Vegas inherit an instant potential champion in season one would simply be wrong. With three generations of fans born in Philadelphia, Cleveland and Detroit still waiting their turn, it reinforces that life just aint fair.
My vote would be to add a mandatory color to the uniform. When the Raiders move to Vegas they must wear their legendary silver and black plus GREEN. In respect to Oakland fans, their "Raider Nation" and to signify the sacred color of money. The only reason this happened in the first place. Build me a $1.5 billion-dollar stadium and they will come.
The Local Market?
The most interesting fact by all economic standards is the market itself and who will be paying to finance this historic move.
By all accounts Las Vegas, Nevada is the 43rd largest media network in the United States. Hardly a growing population region supporting a change from more culturally and economically diverse Oakland, California. It's been reported that up to 75% of the financing for the stadium will be supported by the local area. But what does that mean? More taxes for local citizens or even higher room taxes for guests staying at Vegas strip hotels? Yes, it's fun watching NFL games on Sunday afternoons at the Westgate for both locals and tourists. But soon it could be $279 a night to stay there. Dream of vacationing at the Bellagio or Caesars Palace? With a potential 18% per night Raiders Stadium tax that might bring your hotel bill deep into four figures by 2019.
The Bright Side
Again, though shrouded in controversy, there is some positive merit to this week's news of the Raiders intended move to Las Vegas. It opens the door to legislators, lobbyists and politicians finding some legitimate way reaching a potential compromise to legalize sports wagering and toward overturning the Professional and Amateur Sports Wagering Act of 1992 (PASPA) before we all die. It's highly, highly doubtful we will ever see sports wagering conveniently legalized on the Internet in the U.S. But just as casino gambling is successfully regulated in most states, it could potentially be possible to soon witness sports wagering legalized beyond the state of Nevada. I would take "the Under 5.5 years" here.
And who knows? Perhaps it will work out that Tony Romo will be a back-up QB or a potential starter next year for the Las Vegas Raiders. It was only a year ago that Commissioner Roger told Tony to leave Las Vegas Boulevard by sundown, threatening to shut down his NFL/Fantasy Sports Wagering show. He didn't like that evil Las Vegas connection between NFL players and gambling.
What a difference a year and a new multi-billion-dollar stadium makes. Viva Las Vegas.
Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights, inlcuding previews and picks from Glenn, click here.