Today's news that the FBI is investigating an NBA referee for allegedly betting on basketball games, including ones that he was working, is sure to send shockwaves throughout professional basketball. What might it mean for potential NHL expansion into Las Vegas, however? For decades major league sports has avoided all serious talk of setting up shop in America's gambling mecca, and now we have just the sort of story that has kept the big leagues away.
Now to be fair, we have to remember that sports gambling goes far beyond Las Vegas. As Murray Weiss' column in the NY Post today says, "sports betting in Nevada represents a fraction of sports betting worldwide, with 98.5 percent of all action taken outside the state."
If anything, at least the modern casinos in Vegas would be better placed to enforce standards and controls to help avoid such activity, as opposed to other, illicit outfits spread around the country. In other words, even if a team was based locally, I'd worry more about an illegal gambling ring somewhere else pulling this kind of stunt rather than a regulated casino operator. See Operation Slapshot...
My thought would be that this scandal shouldn't pose any additional obstacle to bringing the NHL to Las Vegas. But I'm sure we'll see someone making just that point sometime in the next few days.