The NFL used to shun Las Vegas. Why is it moving a team there? – The Washington Post

I’ve written up a few thoughts for the Washington Posts’s Post Everything on why Las Vegas is suddenly acceptable to the NFL:

The gambling industry here and football have been seeing each other secretly since the 1960s. But Monday’s 31-to-1 vote by league owners to permit the Oakland Raiders to move to Las Vegas with (for now) no stipulations about sports betting is a sign that the league’s and city’s status has changed from “it’s complicated” to “in a relationship.”

Read more: The NFL used to shun Las Vegas. Why is it moving a team there? – The Washington Post

Looking at the history of the NFL, Las Vegas, and gambling is fascinating. The league is steadfastly opposed to legal sports betting despite the fact that many fans bet on the game and it clearly drives a lot of interest. I went back to the Commission on the Review of the National Policy Toward Gambling (1975) to get some context. Pete Rozelle testified extensively then, and laid it out very well.

What I found intriguing is that he said he wasn’t that afraid of legal betting causing actual corruption in the game, but that it might cause fans to think that there was corruption. If they were able to place bets legally, he said, they’d demand Congress investigate every time they lost a bet. Rozelle’s opposition to legal sports betting was rooted in a deep mistrust of his own fans, who he thought would see a conspiracy behind every botched play or blown call.

Because Las Vegas was the country’s sports betting nerve center, Las Vegas was forbidden–although he mentioned that they did monitor Vegas betting lines when looking for irregularities.

So what’s changed? Well, you can read what I think here.

Football’s local impact in Vegas Seven, and an award

It’s Green Felt Journal time again. This week, I talk about the impact of football on Las Vegas in Vegas Seven:

Even though Las Vegas doesn’t have an NFL team, football is a popular pastime in the city, and one that has a huge economic impact on the area.Yes, there are the Locomotives of the United Football League and the UNLV Rebels, but football’s real impact here isn’t felt on the field or in the stands—it’s in the sports books and bars of the Valley.

via Even with no NFL team, Vegas scores big during football season | Vegas Seven.

I decided to write this after I did a little poking around to check on some of the claims of “economic impact of a new arena” proponents. Even without a team, it’s clear that football generates a lot of economic activity in the area.

This is also as good a time as any to announce that I’m now officially an award-winning columnist. The Nevada Press Association has honored me with second place in the “Best Local Non-staff Column” category. Here’s the description:

2. David G. Schwartz, Vegas Seven
“Schwartz’s column is everything you’d expect a column on the gaming industry not to be — accessible, well-sourced, pertinent and insightful. ‘Real baccarat players like their privacy.’”

I still can’t figure out whether that’s a back-handed complement or not, but I’ll take it.

Congratulations also to Vegas Seven stablemate Michael Green, who beat me out for the top spot in the category.

And fellow gaming writer David McKee took home not one, but two awards for his work for another Las Vegas weekly paper.

You can read about all of the award-winners here.

Gambling can save your marriage!

A columnist in the St. Augustine Record has a prescription for women who are dreading the return of football season: gambling!

You can bridge this gap with one of the greatest relationship problem solvers I know: gambling.

Thats right. A few interesting wagers can easily return your family from football fan and widow to weekend playmates.

Heres one: Each of you pick five games a week. College, pro, whatever. Five games, five winners. Doesnt even have to be the same games. Whoever picks the most winners each week is the champ.

Ive seen couples do this and make all kinds of wild bets. Some bet chores. Guys, wouldnt it be awesome to have a beer and watch your wife mow the lawn? Some bets get a little more creative. Girls, how nice does a foot rub from your man sound? Some even involve the bedroom. Use your imagination — this is a family column, people.

The great thing about football is that even the dorkiest expert cant accurately predict every game. So even if you dont know Peyton Manning from the Publix checkout dude, you really still have a shot.

So take heart, football widows, you have hope. Summer might be drawing nigh, but you dont have to be the big loser. In fact, this year you might even come out a few foot rubs and dinners ahead.

via the oldest city’s home on the Net.

I like that this considers gambling in a broader cultural context. I wonder, though, if the NFL will try to penalize people wagering foot rubs and dinners on the outcome of games. After all, the league has taken a firm stance against betting on games.

The funny thing is that if you consider the foot rubs a service, then technically this is illegal in most states: you are exchanging something of value. Otherwise, you could avoid prosecution for bookmaking by switching from a cash to a barter system. It doesn’t seem practical to me, but I’m sure there’s some financial whiz who could make it work.

Loco in Las Vegas

The Las Vegas UFL team finally has a name that draws on the city’ history. Check out the press release:

At a press conference today, United Football League Commissioner Michael Huyghue announced the Las Vegas franchise will be named the Locomotives and unveiled innovative team uniforms showcasing the Locomotives’ “Premiere” season colors of silver, blue and white. The name “Locomotives” was selected after reviewing more than thirty thousand fan entries and receiving interpretation from industry experts and an in-house creative team on what attributes the fans were seeking with their submissions. Las Vegas Locomotives Head Coach Jim Fassel was also in attendance at the press event.

“It was critical for us to select team names that we felt best reflected the local community while simultaneously defining the personality of the team,” said Commissioner Huyghue. “Las Vegas was originally established in 1905 with the opening of the Salt Lake, San Pedro and Los Angeles Railroads. We wanted to honor the vast history of the city and the intrinsic benefits that this innovation provided to the community.”

Previously, the UFL announced Miami-based GameWear Team Sports as the League’s official uniform supplier. GameWear Team Sports is one of the leading athletic uniform outfitters in the country and has worked extensively in growing the sport of football on the grassroots level. Award-winning designer Ron Caruso of Purepartner created all the teams’ uniforms using derivatives of the official League logo for all the designs while making each one distinctive.

“The inspiration for the ‘Premiere’ season uniform design comes directly from the UFL shield and its foundation colors which represent ‘green grass’, ‘blue sky’ and silver for innovation,” said Caruso. “Throughout the uniforms, we used the dimensional ‘arc’ of the shield on the chest and supporting ‘arcs’ on the sleeves and pants. The unique font of the numbers reinforces the shield’s classic bold typeface with angles and dimensional treatments conveying depth and motion. The four uniform designs work together in a unified branded system, providing manufacturing efficiencies while allowing each team to retain its own unique and differentiated character.”

United Football League Introduces Las Vegas Locomotives as Team Name & Unveils Uniforms

Hmmm. It does reflect the history of Las Vegas, but would have been more appropriate in an age when the city really was a railroad town–let’s say before the UPRR moved the repair shops out of town in 1922. Most people probably don’t say “trains” when you ask them to say the first thing that comes to mind when you say “Las Vegas.” Considering we don’t even have passenger train service here anymore, I’m not sure this was such a good idea in 2009.

The nickname, “Locos,” is a little too close to “Lobos” for me. I’m seeing University of New Mexico basketball, not pro football. “Locomotives” sounds much more like a college team nickname than a professional team’s one. It really would be perfect for an engineering school, even if they don’t graduate the engineers who run trains.

And good God, does that description of the “premiere” season uniforms sound pretentious or what? It’s like they’re talking about a Cirque show or something. It’s a sport that involves men hitting each other, very hard, while people drink beer and bet on the outcome. I’ve never watched a football game–nor have I known anyone else to watch a football game–and comment on the “dimensional arc” of the uniforms.

Here’s a few names I came up with that aren’t already used by any other pro sports team that I know of and, I think, work better:

Las Vegas Land Sharks (or Loan Sharks–there could be some synergy with the Mob Museum)
Las Vegas Pit Bosses
Las Vegas Godfathers (hey, if we’re going to do the Mob thing, we might as well go all in)
Las Vegas Dons (it plays on the Spanish heritage and is a more subtle way of saying “Godfathers”
Las Vegas Vagabonds
Las Vegas Bandits (the players would have two arms, but they could have a slot machine in the logo)
Las Vegas Hangovers (Most football team names represent something brutal and intimidating, and a hangover is both. Many people leave Vegas with hangovers, as well.)

I welcome further suggestions in the comments. I say, we should remember who we are and how we are perceived in 2009. Let’s have some fun with this.