The National Football League’s (NFL) longstanding stance against gambling is being challenged as fans at Las Vegas Raiders home games may be able to bet via mobile devices.
Unless the NFL changes the lease terms, the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) plans to allow fans to bet on smartphones and tablets inside the Raiders’ new stadium.
The conditional lease which transfers the Raiders from Oakland to Nevada where sports betting is legal was recently approved.
The strict anti-gambling stance remains, with the lease prohibiting “any Gaming or Gambling, the maintaining or operating of a Gaming Establishment and/or sports wagering or any wagering on racing or other non-sports events.”
The lease explains that “‘Gaming’ or ‘Gambling shall mean to deal, operate, carry on, conduct, maintain or expose for play any Game, gaming device, inter-casino linked system, mobile gaming system, interactive gaming system, slot machine, race book or sports pool, or any other form of gaming or gambling hereafter added to NRS Chapter 463 or any successor statutes.”
But the NGC has found a loophole, with the regulator’s chairman, Tony Alamo revealing mobile betting may be allowed since the language does not prohibit mobile bookmaker apps.
Nothing in the lease makes it illegal so bettors may be able to place wagers in the stadium as they are watching the matches.
While the NFL could still ask the NGC to prohibit access to the mobile sports betting apps at the stadium, it has not done so yet.
“The NFL has not approached me for any policy decisions,” Alamo said.
“The Nevada Gaming Commission is the policy maker for the state of Nevada and gaming, and they have not approached us in any shape, way or form.”
When ESPN reached out to the NFL for comment, spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an email the Raiders “are required to abide by League rules on the matter.”
While NFL’s Commissioner Roger Goodell said in March it would not request Nevada bookmakers to remove betting markets “in large part because you have the regulatory environment there, which actually could be beneficial in this case”, there is still time for a policy change.
The Raiders will not be playing at the Las Vegas stadium until 2020.
Since the lease is conditional, the NFL could amend the policy to stop punters from using a bookmaker’s app. The sporting code already shuts down betting retail outlets located inside venues when the NFL plays in the UK where sports betting is legal. Still, mobile wagering remains legal here and occurs.
Sports betting is increasing in popularity in Nevada, as is betting on mobile devices. According to ESPN, data shows around 53 percent of wagers at William Hill’s Nevada-based bookmaker is done via smartphones and tablets.