Will Pro Teams in Vegas Attract Gambling Dollars? You Bet

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Live Action Means More Action
Prior to cell phones and the internet, also known as the Dark Ages, sporting events could only be seen on local stations (assuming there was no TV blackout) or those that were included in a national network broadcast. The only place you could see an entire slate of NFL games pre-internet was either at a Las Vegas sportsbook or a restaurant/sports bar with enough money behind it to pay the broadcast fees. There was a direct correlation between the action bet on games that could be viewed, as opposed to those that could not. Only the hardcore sports bettors would delve into games they couldn’t watch and thus there were 800 numbers dedicated to score phones sponsored by paid touts that would force the caller to listen to their spiel before giving the updated scores on all the games on the betting slate, with the exception of soccer which wasn’t en vogue at the time in the United States. However, the vast majority who were inclined to place a sports wager did so, only on the action they could watch with their very own eyes.

Enough ancient history, fast forward to December 17th, 2016 as the Kentucky Wildcats battled the University of North Carolina Tar Heels at the new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Over 19,000 fans packed the arena co-owned by one of the largest sportsbook operators in the state, MGM Resorts International. Those attending could bet the game on their mobile devices courtesy of an app called PlayMGM. If you believe my premise to be specious about more money being wagered on events that can be watched then I invite you to hear from the experts about the action taken on that game.

"It was just a ton of action, a ton of tickets," said Jay Rood, MGM Vice-President of Race and Sports.

"We did more money on that than any NBA [game]. It was a really, really heavily bet game for us,” said Jason Simball, VP of sport book operator CG Technology.

This Saturday afternoon event lined up against a Saturday NFL game, several college bowl games and a full slate of NBA action that night and an NFL slate the following day. MGM’s Jay

Rood went on to say that the number of wagers on the Kentucky/UNC game was comparable to or better than any NFL game that weekend. In other words, if we can watch it, we like to bet it.

NHL in Vegas Now – NFL Next?
The Las Vegas Knights are the NHL’s newest entry and will make its debut next season. The Knights will call that same T-Mobile Arena home next season and once again if you want to watch the game and bet it, there’s an app for it. Though NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has expressed concerns regarding gambling on his sport, there will be betting on or against the Knights when they play at home next season and thereafter. This will be an issue that will come home to roost if New Jersey is finally allowed sports betting, which could very well subject the Devils to the same betting environment.

But the conversation becomes a bit more prickly when discussing a move by an NFL team to Sin City. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has been outspoken in his opposition to sports betting, stating that it could affect the integrity of the game. The irony, of course, is that the NFL is the most widely bet on sport in the nation and those small financial investments lead to more viewing interest which leads to soaring TV ratings which ultimately generate all those billions of advertising dollars needed to pay Goodell’s $30-40 million salary and keep his league financially booming. If the Raiders move to Vegas - what then commissioner?

The NFL has taken a hard line on entering Las Vegas, refusing to accept them as a Pro Bowl site and essentially boycotting the entire state. But if the NFL finally locates a team to Las Vegas then don’t be surprised if more people are pecking away at their smartphones than watching the game because – there’ll be an app for it!

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