In sports, there are historically two things that do not go hand in hand without problems.
Personnel and gambling.
Yet, the Oakland Raiders tried to break down the unwritten rule that implies sports are to stay away from gambling, the casino atmosphere and Las Vegas.
After all, gambling is becoming a more widely accepted activity, city by city and state by state. New Orleans, a city that loves its football team, has not only become more accepting of this activity, but it also has become the gambling mecca of the south.
Even with the development of betting, the National Football League has stayed away from Las Vegas. Reasons over the years have ranged from excuses such as Vegas is a tourist location, the players could not handle living in Vegas without falling into trouble and there would be no loyal fan base.
There is one far more important reason than that though that is unspoken, but well-founded as to why no organization has yet ventured into sin city. The NFL simply does not want a team to be controlled or manipulated by the casino lords of the strip.
The Raiders thought they could be the team that moved to Vegas without falling victim to the power held by the casinos, but they were quickly proven wrong. The NFL should have seen the writing on the wall when Raiders owner, Mark Davis’, stadium plans were centered around casino boss, Sheldon Adelson, committing $650 million dollars to a $1.9 billion dollar stadium build.
Confusingly, Mark Davis seemed to think he could get an investment from Adelson, the chief executive of Las Vegas Sands Corp., without Adelson infringing upon the Raiders daily dealings.
Once it became obvious that Adelson would not deal with the team unless he had influence, the Raiders submitted their bid to relocate without him in the presentation. Adelson was left on the outside looking in, a place that a man of his power would prefer not to be.
"It's clear the Raiders have decided their path for moving to Las Vegas does not include the Adelson family," said a statement released by Adelson. "So, regrettably, we will no longer be involved in any facet of the stadium discussion."
Adelson had pulled his money, however, this was of little concern to Mark Davis, because he had a deal waiting in the wings with Goldman Sachs to fill in the now $650 million dollar gap.
The one thing Davis seemed to be forgetting was that Adelson, a man worth an estimated $32.2 billion dollars, had very good relations with this particular finance company.
Two days after Adelson pulled out, so did Goldman Sachs.
Sheldon Adelson was pulling the strings and squeezing the Raiders. The NFL does not like outside influence, and Vegas clearly would be full of it. Needless to say, in only a few days, the NFL’s fears for having a team in Vegas were realized.
Now, the Raiders sit with no backing and an inability to shoulder the cost of moving without extra help. Trying to win a fight against casino bigs is a tough game, and the Raiders have lost this one.
Mark Davis and his team have until the NFL owner meetings in March to get their feet back under them. They need 24 of the 32 teams to support a move, a number that right now would be difficult to accomplish.