Las Vegas Raiders Plan Punted by Casino Billionaire Sheldon Adelson

on January 31, 2017
Las Vegas Raiders Mark Davis

Mark Davis is short a billionaire and $650 million after Sheldon Adelson announced he was stepping away from the Las Vegas Raiders stadium project. (Image: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The Las Vegas Raiders are short $650 million after billionaire Sheldon Adelson announced he was withdrawing his financial commitment to the stadium project near the famed Strip.

Mark Davis, the owner of the storied NFL franchise that he inherited from his father, is trying to relocate the team to Sin City. Adelson, who founded the Las Vegas Sands Corporation in 1988 and is now worth over $30 billion, was willing to help finance the proposed $1.9 billion, 65,000-seat domed stadium.

But after Davis allegedly went behind the billionaire’s back and developed a leasing agreement with the city that would set the annual rent of using the facility at a whopping $1, Adelson folded.

“The Oakland Raiders came before the Las Vegas Stadium Authority last week with a proposed lease agreement that has sent shockwaves through our community,” Adelson wrote in a statement. “We were not only excluded from the proposed agreement; we weren’t even aware of its existence.”

“It’s clear the Raiders have decided their path for moving to Las Vegas does not include the Adelson family. So, regrettably, we will no longer be involved in any facet of the stadium discussion,” he concluded.

With Adelson out, the odds of the Raiders moving to Las Vegas would appear reduced. Though Nevada has pledged $750 million through Clark County hotel occupancy taxes, and Davis has committed $500 million, the project is now short $650 million.

Fresh off the team’s first playoffs appearance in 14 years, there’s plenty of optimism on Oakland for next year. Online sportsbooks have the Raiders at 20/1 to win Super Bowl LIII in February of 2018.

Welcomed News

The NFL, or at least very least Commissioner Roger Goodell, is no fan of the Raiders moving to the Mojave Desert. The professional football organization has opposed Las Vegas for obvious reasons: the city’s widespread sports betting.

Goodell is under the impression that allowing the NFL to play in Las Vegas might lead to a compromise of the game’s integrity.

Casino owners aren’t allowed to hold stake in NFL franchises, and while Adelson wasn’t out to buy part of the Raiders, his withdrawal is likely welcomed by Goodell and the league’s front office.

But Davis, who filed relocation paperwork with the NFL earlier this month, now has quite the conundrum on his hands. He’ll need to appeal to the league’s 31 other owners and receive the support of three-fourths before he can move to Nevada.

Pressing On

Adelson’s withdrawal isn’t stopping Davis from moving forward with the Las Vegas Raiders.

In a statement, the team explains, “We know this project could not have advanced to this point without them (the Adelson family). The Raiders remain steadfast in honoring Mark Davis’ commitment to Governor Sandoval and the State of Nevada to pursue relocation to Las Vegas.”

The issue with sports betting and pro sports has diminished in recent years, as other sports commissioners have spoken out in support of regulating the current underground markets.

The American Gaming Association found last May that eight in 10 NFL teams play home games with an hour’s drive of a casino. And of course, online sportsbooks bring betting right into a gambler’s home.