The gambling industry here and football have been seeing each other secretly since the 1960s. But Monday’s 31-to-1 vote by league owners to permit the Oakland Raiders to move to Las Vegas with (for now) no stipulations about sports betting is a sign that the league’s and city’s status has changed from “it’s complicated” to “in a relationship.”
The reason? Las Vegas has been sanitized a bit, and the National Football League isn’t as clean-cut as it once appeared.
So what changed before Monday’s vote?
Las Vegas is no longer a desert oasis dominated by gambling; it’s a major metropolitan area of more than 2 million people, and even its gambling business is no longer all about gaming. The major resorts of the Strip have made more from rooms, food and shows than their casinos since 1999. Today, those resorts make just over a third of their income from gambling. More significantly, in 2016, for the first time even downtown Las Vegas’s gambling halls, always more focused on down-and-dirty gambling than the ritzy Strip, made more from non-gambling than gambling. So because Las Vegas no longer means gambling, the city is acceptable. (Of course, $750 million in public funds for a stadium would go a long way toward making any city acceptable, but that’s another story.)
The impressionable public no longer needs to be shielded from cynicism and theories that blame adverse results on hidden conspiracies. In the era of alternative facts and fake news, no one’s running to the government for help because they lost a football bet. And the game itself — marred by steroids, concussions and all the collateral damage of any global business dependent on the athletic feats of a few hundred competitors — is no longer viewed as pure.
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com …