I wonder how this business with the Oakland Raiders moving to Las Vegas sits with nine U.S. Supreme Court justices who will hear arguments in December on New Jersey’s efforts to overturn federal law that keeps the state from offering sports betting?
The federal ban on betting is defended by the major sports leagues, led by the National Football League whose commissioner Roger Goodell told a cheering Las Vegas crowd the move will be beneficial to all involved. Until now it was one of the largest metropolitan areas without a major league sports team.
The NFL is “transformative” as an entertainment vehicle; Goodell grinned at that, standing on the construction site south of Tropicana where the $1.95 billion, 65,000-seat stadium is being built. There are the jobs it creates, the travel it encourages and the tax revenue and myriad attitude improvements that flow from “big league” cities.
It’s all true, but in the New Jersey case, lawyers opposing the state seemed to be relying on outdated images of the casino business to defend the 1992 legislation that put the present legislation in place. Big league athletics did not want their business tainted by association with gambling interests. That’s what they said.
That’s the way it was in 1992, a period when Atlantic City casinos were just becoming aware of their potential. Business confidence was at a high level and there was still little interest in legalizing legal sports betting beyond Nevada’s borders. Nevada and Las Vegas retained their uniqueness but it was not likely to last long as other jurisdictions were stepping up efforts to find a place at the table: Big league officials from the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League.
So much has changed since New Jersey first went to court and the state is making sure reporters and outlets are armed with sufficient facts to know the difference between fact and fiction.
Nevada companies are well aware of the possibilities that would be within their reach if the justices determine PASPA needs to be rewritten but they are reluctant to become parties to a dispute that involves attitudes with different ideas about how much gambling is too much gambling.
They would rather play with the delightful mental images that have the Super Bowl coming to Las Vegas maybe six or seven years down the road.