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Raiders Break Ground In Las Vegas As Sports Betting Fight Looms In Supreme Court

Governor Says Ceremony A 'Transformative' Moment


The Las Vegas Raiders took a big step closer to reality on Monday as officials “broke ground” on a $1.9 billion stadium that could host the team as soon as 2020.

The likes of Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, Raiders owner Mark Davis and controversial NFL commissioner Roger Goodell were on hand for the ceremony. The event was held at the planned site for the stadium, between Interstate 15 and Russell Road.

In May, the Raiders paid $77.5 million for the site.

“Only in Vegas can you turn a groundbreaking ceremony into a show,” Goodell said.

Some 1,000 people attended the event, according to ESPN.

Sandoval said the ceremonial groundbreaking was “one of the most transformative moments in the history of Las Vegas.” Sandoval approved controversial legislation that allocates $750 million worth of public funding (thanks to a tax increase) for the stadium.

Why such a massive subsidy? According to casino industry estimates, a NFL team in Las Vegas could bring 800,000 additional people to the city annually and generate $620 million in annual economic activity. Some of that would come from increased sports betting volume at local casinos. The league said earlier this year that it won’t try to block Las Vegas sports books from taking action on the team’s games.

Nevada sports books won more than $90 million on football in 2016. That was the second best football year ever for the books, according to research from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. The amount wagered on football was about $1.7 billion.

Next month the U.S. Supreme Court will consider a high-stakes challenge a 1992 federal law known as PASPA that prohibits sports books outside of Nevada casinos.

It looks like a sure bet that sports books will eventually come to casinos in east coast gambling hubs like New Jersey and Pennsylvania, so it wasn’t that surprising when earlier this year 31 of 32 owners voted to allow the Raiders’ relocation. The approval was widely seen as providing even more momentum for inevitable sports betting reform.

One former NFL star believes the Las Vegas is approaching a new era.

“I think it will be good for the league,” former Oakland Raider Richard Seymour told Card Player this summer at the World Series of Poker, "and I think Vegas is going to boom from it. I’m sure the players will enjoy it.” When asked if he thinks more NFL players might find an interest in poker thanks to a team in Las Vegas, Seymour said he knows of “a few guys” who will.

Under NFL policy, players can gamble in a casino, like Calais Campbell did when he entered a WSOP event last summer, but they can’t be involved with promoting any casino event. That was the case in 2015, when three Miami Dolphins players were barred from playing in a low-stakes Florida poker tournament because they were used to advertise the game.

Tags: Raiders,   NFL,   Sports Betting,   Las Vegas,   Oakland,   Football