“It’s about time.”
That’s the view of American Gaming Association President Geoff Freeman who sees the decision to put an NHL franchise in Las Vegas as a win for sports fans who hope the decision will nudge the gaming industry and major league sports into an enduring relationship that includes expanded opportunities for legalized sports betting.
“As a passionate Washington Capitals fan and someone who makes many business trips to Las Vegas every winter, I’m excited about the chance to catch a few road games when the Caps visit Nevada.
“The ramifications of this move are many,” Freeman said. “First, the placement of the first major professional sports franchise in Las Vegas reflects a rapidly evolving view of gaming as an important, mainstream segment of the broader economy that supports 1.7 million jobs and serves as a community partner in 40 states. It’s an industry that garners a 90 percent approval rating from American voters, something politicians can only dream of.
“When you look at all the markets where professional sports and casinos co-exist – and where they actually work together as partners in their communities – any concerns are wildly overblown and not based on fact,” he said.
In the NFL, more than 80 percent of teams play home games within a one-hour drive of a casino. In the NHL, just look at Tampa Bay and New York and Philadelphia and Columbus and Pittsburgh and Detroit and St. Louis and many more to find cities where teams and casinos co-exist. It’s the same across Major League Baseball and the NBA.
“Further,” Freeman continued, “if players’ access to sports betting is a concern, then consider this: 100 percent of professional athletes are within reach of illegal online sports betting sites.”
In the meantime, the Oakland Raiders ownership remains focused on a plan to move the team to Las Vegas if a 65,000-seat domed stadium is built as proposed.
Phil Hevener has been writing about the Nevada gaming business for more than 30 years. Email: