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Why Is Las Vegas Getting Pro Sports Leagues' Attention?

Wayne Duggan

Las Vegas sports fans may soon have a lot more to cheer about.

Sports And Las Vegas

The NHL’s Las Vegas Golden Knights will take over as Las Vegas’ first ever major league sports franchise starting in the 2017–2018 season. But according to Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, the city isn’t satisfied with only one major sports team. Last year, Goodman predicted Las Vegas would be home to three major league sports teams within the next decade.

One of those teams will likely be the NFL’s Oakland Raiders, who plan on moving to Las Vegas in 2020.

Last year, MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM) CEO Jim Murren said he is actively trying to bring an NBA team to Las Vegas as well.

The next several years could be an exciting time for Las Vegas sports fans, but Las Vegas’ track record with sports isn’t particularly good. Las Vegas was briefly home to three professional football teams in the past. The XFL’s Las Vegas Outlaws and the CFL’s Las Vegas Posse lasted just one year each. The UFL’s Las Vegas Locomotives won two league championships in 2009 and 2010 before the league folded after three years.

Las Vegas has also been home to the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s baseball team since 1983, but the Golden Knights will be the first attempt at a major league Las Vegas sports team.

Prior Avoidance Of Las Vegas

Why have the major leagues avoided Las Vegas for so long? There are a number of risks that are unique to the Sin City. First, due to the 24-hour nature of the local casino and entertainment industries, many locals work odd hours that could make scheduling optimal game times difficult.

Second, there are so many unique entertainment options available in Las Vegas, sports teams might find it difficult to compete.

Finally, the biggest danger to setting up shop in Las Vegas is the potential damage that any gambling scandal could do to a sports league’s reputation. Not only does placing a franchise in Las Vegas threaten the wholesome, family-friendly reputations of the major sports leagues, Las Vegas is one of the few places in the country where sports betting is legal. Any potential gambling scandals could compromise the integrity of the sport in the eyes of fans, a potential headache that major sports leagues would love to avoid at all costs.

Financial Potential

However, the potential financial upside that the cash-rich Las Vegas area could provide seems to be too much for the leagues to pass up. If Goodman is correct, the dynamics of the entertainment and sports gambling business in Las Vegas could be in for some major changes in the next 10 years.

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