NHL Awards Las Vegas New Expansion Team

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the relationship between pro sports organizations and gambling countless times.  In almost all cases, the NHL has taken the position that its wise to distance their organization from the problems associated with sports gambling.  Most of their visible advocacy has come in the way of preventing sports betting from expanding into jurisdictions outside of Las Vegas.  The most notable has been their ongoing opposition to New Jersey’s attempts at making sports betting legal.  The common believe has been that it’s a bad idea to have those involved in sports betting, and those who could potentially corrupt the games for financial gain, to be too close to the organization.  That’s why it comes as a bit of a surprise the NHL has awarded an expansion franchise to Las Vegas.  The NHL Commissioner seems to believe that due to a much smaller volume of sports betting on hockey than is seen with the NFL or College basketball, that concerns for corruption are unwarranted. Fox News Sports reports: 

The National Hockey League’s 31st franchise will play in Las Vegas beginning in 2017, Commissioner Gary Bettman announced Wednesday. Sports leagues once rejected the city outright due to concerns about corruption from Vegas’ massive sports betting economy, but the NHL and the NFL no longer share those worries, with Bettman calling his sport “less susceptible” to gambling interests due to the small volume of bets placed on hockey.

Not everyone shares the Commissioners outlook on placing a team in Las Vegas.  Former President and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment stated that the move was a “bad mistake.  The NHL owners are going to regret it.” His reasons were more market and economically driven, more so than potential corruptions driven, but others, including the Washington Post have pointed out the unique nature of a team actually playing in Las Vegas:

[T]he announcement that the National Hockey League had awarded an expansion franchise to a group based in Las Vegas was, to some, a shock. This was the first big league to base a team in Las Vegas, a city that, thanks to its gambling and sports betting associations, was for many years taboo. The NFL has even refused to air commercials touting Las Vegas — scrubbed of all gambling references — during the Super Bowl. We accept that big-league sports are deeply woven into the fabric of the United States. And we are just starting to realize that big-league gambling is now, too. The difference, the NFL might say, is that Nevada allows straight-up sports betting, which no other state in the nation does, and in Nevada casinos, alongside the slots and crap tables, one can bet against the spread.

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