The history behind why Las Vegas doesn’t have a professional sports team


With all of the recent talk about the Oakland Raiders potentially moving to play in Las Vegas in a few years, many fans are curious on the history of why Las Vegas doesn’t yet have a pro sports team.

The answer is twofold why the four major professional sports leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL) in the United States or America have shunned the popular vacation spot.

The primary reason is the concern about Nevada allowing gambling on sports and the perception that this would lead to increases in game or match fixing. We should take a deeper look; however, to better understand the dilemma pro sports face when it comes to considering expanding into Las Vegas.

The secondary reason is that Las Vegas (and the surrounding area) simply does not have a large enough population, from what the data shows, sufficient enough to support a major sports team. Las Vegas ranks 30th nationally in terms of population, however it is larger than 12 cities that do have professional teams.

There’s a lot of money to be made if any of the pro leagues decide to expand into Las Vegas, but there are a lot of considerations. In order for any move like that to be successful, especially with sports books and gambling on every corner, that league will have to be strategic… and hope that luck is also on their side.


When was the Betting Ban on Local Teams Lifted in Nevada?

Up until 2001, Nevada banned any form of betting on games that involved teams based in the state.

Without a MLB, NBA, NHL or NFL team, the law predominantly was in effect for UNLV’s college teams. Once the ban was lifted, there have not been any reports of major scandals regarding sports betting and the student-athletes from the school.

The professional leagues have taken note, since student athletes are assumed to be more susceptible to bribes or payments in exchange for performance on the field. One would like to think that this is from the athletes being of higher character, etc, but it also has a lot to do with the prevalence of modern technology and the ability of sports bookies or other nefarious types attempting to influence the action in locales far away from Vegas in order to avoid additional scrutiny.

What Pro Sports Team have Played in Vegas?

There have actually been three attempts prior to the ongoing talk with the Raiders at playing outdoor, pro football in Las Vegas. The first two tries were the XFL’s Las Vegas Outlaws and the Canadian Football League’s Las Vegas Posse. Each of these tries was unsuccessful, and each team folded after their first season (the XFL folded as a league, and the Posse simply failed to garner enough of a following).

There was a third attempt with the United Football League’s Las Vegas Locomotives; however, both the franchise and league folded in 2012. In all of these cases, there were not any reported instances of match fixing by the players.

The NBA hasn’t shied away from Vegas; they hosted the 2007 All-Star Weekend there and Las Vegas is one of the annual locations of the NBA Summer League.

What is the Future of Pro Sports in Las Vegas?

The National Hockey League will be the first major pro sports team in the United States to base a team in Las Vegas in October 2017. The league will be placing an expansion franchise in the city that is also hosting a Triple-A Pacific Coast Minor League baseball team, the Las Vegas 51s.

The team is the result of ongoing discussions with city leaders and various decision makers in the NHL. The move is promising for paving the way of the Oakland Raiders also moving to the area for the 2019 NFL regular season.

Stay Tuned!

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