NFL hasn't asked Nevada to block betting apps at Raiders stadium

This land is where the Raiders’ Las Vegas stadium will be built, not far from the Las Vegas Strip. (AP)

Because the NFL is mostly stuck in a bygone era when it comes to gambling, the issue of how the Las Vegas Raiders and gambling will coexist is an interesting topic to track.

People in Nevada can bet on sports using cell phone apps, and the NFL hasn’t yet tried to block that at the Raiders’ future stadium. Nevada Gaming Commissioner chairman Tony Alamo told ESPN’s David Purdum that nobody from the NFL has approached him about changing a policy on mobile gambling apps and blocking them at the stadium – which ESPN said could be done using GPS technology. Nothing in the Raiders’ conditional lease agreement specifically blocks the use of gambling apps, the stadium authority and Nevada gaming officials told ESPN.

It’s quite possible the NFL, which doesn’t exactly seem to be well versed in gambling technology, hadn’t thought of this option and at some point before the Raiders move (the new stadium is expected to be done in 2020) will ask for the apps to be blocked at the stadium. However there doesn’t seem to be any real reason for the gaming commission to block the apps, if the NFL even asks, unless it just wants to be nice to the multi-billion dollar league.

The NFL will have to navigate the gambling issue, but it had to know that was coming when it ignored its deep-seated anti-gambling stance to accept $750 million in public money for a new stadium and relocate the Raiders. It’s very unlikely, until there’s a much more progressive group of owners, that we’d see anything at the Raiders stadium like the betting kiosks at England’s soccer stadiums. But those aren’t even necessary anymore.

Over the past few years, most major Nevada sportsbooks have developed mobile apps. You deposit money at a casino sportsbook, and you can bet on your phone within the state of Nevada. The apps even include in-game wagers. Theoretically, fans in the Raiders’ new stadium will be able to see a play, log into their favorite sportsbook app and bet on whether the Raiders or their opponent will cover the updated spread. For the ultra-conservative NFL that has to sound like the end of days, even though most adults don’t view gambling as a sin anymore.

Even if the NFL wants to ask the Nevada Gaming Commission about the apps, there will likely be betting on Raiders games. ESPN said commissioner Roger Goodell indicated the NFL won’t request that Raiders games be taken off the board in Nevada. It’s really hard to imagine the gaming commission would grant that request anyway. There has been $28.3 billion bet on football in Nevada since 1992. There will be a nice revenue stream from hometown Raiders fans and tourists of Raiders opponents betting on those games. Also, betting on UNLV games has been allowed since 2001. The Raiders’ new stadium will be across a freeway from Mandalay Bay and many other sportsbooks on the Las Vegas Strip. If people can’t bet on their app, they’ll just bet at a casino before they head to the stadium. It would seem futile for the NFL to fight that, and they haven’t shown any signs they will.

The NFL has an opportunity to finally remove the stigma it has maintained on gambling. You’d think placing one of the 32 teams in the shadow of the Las Vegas Strip would begin that process. The NFL can’t just do a 180 overnight and embrace gambling, after decades of telling us how evil it is. But perhaps the NFL will stop fighting it.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!