For decades, the NFL stayed away from Las Vegas because it needed to maintain the “integrity of the game,” a convenient blanket response for the league when reinforcing its anti-gambling stance. The underlying message suggested players would be tempted to manipulate the outcome of games.
Only the shortsighted believed players would be lured into gambling simply because they lived in Las Vegas. The two biggest point-shaving scandals in sports history involved college basketball teams – at Boston College in the late 1970s and at CCNY in the early ’50s.
The NFL’s rationale was based on perception, that something seemed sinister about a team in Sin City. But this is the same league that partnered with DraftKings and FanDuel and had regular-season games in London, where gambling is legal.
Remember that if Raiders owner Mark Davis follows through on preliminary plans to move his franchise from Oakland to Las Vegas. He has pledged $500 million toward a $1.4 billion stadium. It would increase team revenue and value, making it hard for the NFL to turn down.