As I followed along as Mark Emmert’s news conference this evening from the Final Four, I noticed a what seems to be a throw away topic. Emmert stated that Las Vegas “will not be eligible for this round.” This got me to thinking. Why does the president of the NCAA believe that Las Vegas will not host any championships?
Las Vegas is probably the safest place to hold championships. Please don’t try to argue that having sporting events in Las Vegas puts players near gamblers with money who will try to influence the outcomes of the games. This is the dumbest argument that I’ve heard. When arguing about point-shaving scandals people will point to Arizona St (1994), Northwestern (1995), Boston College (1978), and CCNY (1951) in basketball and University of Toledo (2007) in football. What do all of these scandals have in common besides point-shaving? The bettors and most of the people shaving the points (with the exception of Jim Sweeney of Boston College) all ended up in federal prison. Yes, point-shaving is a federal crime, one which the government takes very seriously.
Las Vegas is not a town that will accept losing money easily. They didn’t get the money to keep expanding all those beautiful hotels (personally I always enjoy New York New York) by losing money. In the Arizona St. scandal, it was Las Vegas who discovered the issue by noticing irregular bets being placed. If Las Vegas even suspects irregular activity on a game they have no qualms about pulling that game off of the board and will not let people wager on it.
The NBA has been holding events in Las Vegas for years (NBA summer league, All-Star weekend). The NHL has expanded to include the Las Vegas Golden Knights. The NFL has just approved the Oakland Raiders to move to Las Vegas. The PAC-12 has been holding their Men’s Basketball tournament is held at the MGM Grand and the Mountain West was held at The Orleans.
Las Vegas is a great venue to hold sporting events. It is uniquely qualified to be able to handle the amount of people visiting, there will never be a shortage of hotel rooms around. The atmosphere is like no other, and it is like an Adult Disney World. Those who believe that Las Vegas shouldn’t hold sporting events is holding on to stereotypes that were never accurate and probably don’t understand sports gambling enough to understand when their argument is fundamentally flawed.