Professional sports are a staple of the entertainment industry today. From the NFL, to the MLS, teams and leagues from all kinds of sports are constantly competing to expand and grow into new territories.
One of the newest cities to become a target for these expansions is Las Vegas, Nevada. The bachelor party capital of the world has become the home to multimillion-dollar franchises in all sorts of professional sports.
The Las Vegas Knights have already begun their inaugural season, while the Las Vegas Raiders are set to kick off in 2020. Despite the promise these two teams bring to an otherwise barren market, Vegas is under controversy for the conditions these teams find themselves in.
“My position is that we as owners and as a League owe it to the fans to do everything we can to stay in the communities that have supported us until all options have been exhausted," Stephen Ross, owner of the Miami Dolphins said.
Nevada is one of two US states that currently allow legalized sports gambling. Gambling can vary from football (both collegiate and professional), baseball, cricket, and even more recently eSports.
While gambling is perfectly legal and regulated under the respected state governments, these bets can be problems for the athletes in the area. Much like the hot button “medicinal marijuana in recovery treatment” issue, these state specific laws can cause issues that directly coincide with league rules.
According to official the Official NFL League Rules, “NFL players, as well as personnel, can gamble only in the case of the casinos are legal. Also, they can bet on horse or dog racing in official/legal betting offices in their personal time,” and “The only exception is that players are not allowed to get in any sort of deals that are organized on the casino property.”
Players in states that do not allow legalized gambling are not allowed to bet on the games, but the players in Vegas will be free and clear to do as they please. It may also lead to cases of fixed games, which has been an issue long before the Raiders’ expansion.
In certain parts of Nevada (not including Clark County, the county Vegas is found) prostitution is legalized in controlled brothels. The actual city of Las Vegas is also the home to recreational marijuana dispensaries, which is a serious problem considering marijuana is a banned substance in the NFL.
All of these factors beg the question, is a controversial state that could lead to so many issues for the league also be the best place for young players fresh out of college to learn to be professionals? With the allegations and controversies that are already exist on the collegiate level, it would be hard to say yes.
With all the problems that have arisen since the news of pro sports in Las Vegas, it is easy to forget all the reasons Vegas is so sought after in the first place. What Vegas specializes in is entertainment, and that’s exactly what a market for an NFL team needs.
The city of Las Vegas is home to 632,912 residents on top of over 39 million estimated yearly tourist visits. With numbers like those, Vegas could very realistically see record attendance numbers at their football games.
Possible ticket sales aside, Vegas also offered the Raiders the one thing they have wanted since leaving Los Angeles. Using 1.9 billion dollars of assorted donations and taxpayer money that Clark County was able to offer, the Raiders franchise will finally have their own stadium.
At the end of the day, every city within the NFL’s reach has issues that could negatively affect the product of the company. Every town has issues with violence, drugs, and other factors.
What makes Las Vegas so easy to disregard is the established reputation it has already earned itself. Nicknames like the Bachelor Party Capital of the US, Sin City, and Glitter Gulch don’t necessarily warrant positive feelings.
Despite personal feelings, Vegas offers a huge potential market for fans and is allowing one of the NFL’s storied franchises a real sense of home they have been craving for years. The NFL is a business, and business naturally comes with a risk of failure.
Hopefully the NFL will be able to successfully expand themselves into markets like Vegas and start a positive change within the local communities.