Will the Oakland Raiders players and Vegas Golden Knight players be more tempted to gamble on games if they live in Las Vegas? A poll released by Seton Hall University in New Jersey showed that nearly half thought it might be a problem.
Of the 687 respondents asked, 46 percent of them said it would be more likely for players, referees and officials to wager on contests, while 42 percent said it would not. The poll did not address other forms of gambling, such as poker or table games.
They were also queried about whether moving to Las Vegas would taint the league’s reputation and 21 percent said it would harm the NFL and 19 percent said it would harm the NHL.
Problem not Location
Just because two professional sports teams are moving to a city where sports betting is legalized, both commissioners have said it is not an issue.
Roger Goodell, head of the NFL, remains adamant about protecting football from gambling and that the policy is very clear. The Oakland Raiders relocating is not a problem.
“The integrity of our game is No. 1,” he said. “We will not compromise on that. But I also believe that Las Vegas is not the same city it was 10 years ago or 20 years ago. It’s a much more diverse city.”
Gary Bettman is equally excited about a team in Nevada.
“We think this is a tremendously exciting opportunity,” he said. “Not just for Las Vegas, but for the league as well.”
He also added that other states are trying to make sports betting legal where professional sports are located.
Scandals in Both Leagues
The NFL and NHL have not had much controversy when it comes to illegal betting, but they are not totally unblemished.
In 2015, Minnesota Wild player, Thomas Vanek and former Buffalo Sabres defenseman, Nathan Paetsch, were linked to a gambling ring. Paetsch was charged with recruiting hockey players to place bets, while Vanek had placed nearly $1 million on bets, mostly on football games. He was not found to have bet on his own sport.
In 2006, Phoenix Coyotes assistant coach Rick Tocchet was alleged to have financed a nationwide gambling ring taking bets from players and Janet Gretzky, wife of Hall of Famer, Wayne Gretzky.
In the NFL, then Baltimore Colts quarterback, Art Schlichter was suspended by the league in 1983 over gambling debts of more than $150,000. His career was over two years later and his addiction landed him in prison several times for fraud, forgery and other charges.
The most famous case was in 1963 and involved two of the game’s biggest stars. Paul Hornung of the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions’ Alex Karras were forced to sit out the 1963 season, suspended for betting on NFL games and associating with gamblers. Even though the bets totaled no more than $500 each, then commissioner, Pete Rozelle came down hard on the pair.