Over the past two years, there has been a lot of change to the NFL scene on the west coast. Before the 2016-2017 season, the St. Louis Rams moved to Los Angeles, CA. After the season, the San Diego Chargers filed for relocation and will also be in Los Angeles for the coming season. The most recent development in this relocation commotion is the Oakland Raider’s move to Las Vegas, NV. This presents tremendous opportunities for the city of Las Vegas, for the NFL and the Raiders organization.
For the city of Las Vegas, the Raider’s presence will significantly increase the city’s ability to draw in tourists. Vegas recently acquired its first professional sports team: the Las Vegas Golden Knights, a professional hockey team playing in the NHL’s Western Conference. The fact that the two professional sports teams coming to the area are in the NHL and NFL is particularly important because those are the most competitive and most watched leagues in their respective sports. A Double-A baseball team, for example, would not have the same impact.
It will be interesting to see where fans of the Las Vegas Raiders will originate, and whether locals or tourists will make up the bulk of ticket sales. Vegas residents likely have chosen a west coast football team their whole lives, and they may not be eager to switch teams. Las Vegas is a major tourist destination, however, and one where tourists typically enter with the expectation that they will spend a lot of money during their stay. If the Raiders organization can create a unique, Vegas-themed atmosphere in their stadium, while having success on the field, it is quite possible that the team will become a major tourist attraction, rather than just an attraction for the team’s fans.
The success of this football program is critically important to its value to the city. It will be hard to get tourists to buy tickets to watch a team that is constantly losing, which is a common occurrence for the Raiders. Therefore, a significant improvement of the Raiders team is required.
While they managed to get into the playoffs with a wildcard in 2016, this one exception is the team’s first playoff appearance since 2002. To turn things around, the Raiders will need to trade in order to gain star power and use their next draft effectively in order to take the first steps toward building a winning team. The Raiders are getting a fresh start in Vegas, and it is up to them what they will do with it to advance their program.
Another way that the Raiders will aim to make the team part of Las Vegas culture is by pushing the envelope on legal sports betting. Currently, the NFL does not allow legal gambling on its games. With a team in Nevada, there is now a stronger case than ever to legalize it. At this moment, the NFL has said that it will not change its position on the matter, but there is always the chance that this could change if the NFL sees it as an opportunity to boost revenue by creating more buzz around the industry. The truth is that only about five percent of sports betting takes place in Nevada, and that most gambling on sporting events is done illegally. The possible introduction of legal gambling on football games would make Las Vegas more exciting, but would likely have little impact on the NFL due to the small percentage of all sports gambling done there.
So only time will tell how the Oakland Raiders’ move will affect Las Vegas, its fans, betting within the NFL and beyond. However, it appears that the team’s relocation to Las Vegas was a brilliant one for several reasons. It gives the city of Las Vegas a potential major attraction that would bring in more tourists. The Raiders would also now be in a more exciting city and have the opportunity to start over, to some extent.
Although it originally seemed like just another NFL relocation, this change has the potential to make both Las Vegas and the NFL more exciting.