NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell having slammed the door on Oakland, we’re going to have to follow Adam Schefter‘s lead and get used to saying “Las Vegas Raiders.” Needless to say, this is a huge coup for Sin City, all the bigger for having transpired so rapidly. Goodell’s tipping his hand on today’s ownership vote begs the question of his anti-sports betting stance, although casinos are already hard by NFL stadiums in Pittsburgh and Baltimore, so you might say that the league and Big Gaming are learning to rub elbows — or at least pretend that the other doesn’t exist, at least until the Super Bowl is held in the league’s newest stadium, at which point the national media will be raising the issue in earnest. (As though to make the point, the American Gaming Association lost no time in stating, “The second announcement of a major sports franchise to locate a team in Las Vegas in just the last 12 months demonstrates how far gaming has come, from a niche industry to a $240 billion economic engine that supports 1.7 million jobs in 40 states.”)
Today’s ownership vote having gone as expected, losers include Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and winners will be led by Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, whose risky gamble on a publicly financed stadium (and on professional football’s second-least-valuable team) will appear to have paid off … unless a business model predicated on football-fueled tourism growth doesn’t roll boxcars. In that case, the stadium becomes Sandoval’s Folly again. And, let’s face it, unless Sheldon Adelson had put his money — briefly — on the table, the discussion would never have risen to the level of sobriety. Adelson has earned the right to take a victory lap in his ubiquitous scooter around the empty lot on Las Vegas Boulevard where Raiders Stadium is expected to arise.
Neither Sandoval nor Raiders owner Mark Davis is quite out of the woods yet. Unless Black Hole denizens decide by the thousands to rack up frequent-flier miles to Las Vegas 10 times a year, Raider Nation will have to recreated from the ground up in Sin City. And, unlike the NHL‘s new Golden Knights, the Raiders have overlooked their local constituency in building support for the move, unless you count some vigorous slurping of Steve Sisolak. There’s a chance that Davis will get the opportunity to develop grassroots support if the Raiders play the 2018 and 2019 seasons at Sam Boyd Stadium, well away from the Las Vegas Strip, so abhorrent to locals, who are vocal about not liking to go there unless it’s for work. (Locals were the moving force behind the opposition to parking fees — not that the casinos paid them any heed.)
* Speaking of the Strip, it saw more than its share of action last week. On the light(er) side, a trio of thieves in formal wear and animal masks staged a smash-and-grab raid at a Bellagio jewelry store in the wee hours of Saturday morning. (The security presence at Bellagio, based on this and other robberies, appears to be supine.) This was followed several hours later by a tragic shooting aboard an RTC bus, with one passenger killed and another severely wounded by an apparently deranged gunman. Las Vegas Metro had to deploy grenades and a robot to corral shooter Rolando Bueno Cardenas. Shooting victim Gary Breidling‘s family, meanwhile, is so hard up they’re having to crowd-fund his funeral. It’s a tragic situation all around. The Strip isn’t a dangerous place per se but last weekend — along with a recent brawl between rival buskers — reinforces the imperative to be aware of one’s surroundings at all times.
* Has the poker boom jumped the shark? Looks that way. Said World Series of Poker spokesman Seth Palansky, “You can make a lot more money per square foot with a nightclub-dayclub these days than you can with a poker table.” Et tu, Seth? Ouch!