Column: Draft cements the wedding of Las Vegas and NFL | Sports activities

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The NFL brings the touring circus that’s its draft to a metropolis the place nothing — together with 300-pound soccer gamers posing with showgirls and circus clowns above the Bellagio resort fountains — is just too outlandish.

As the draft begins Thursday, the wedding between the league and the playing city it demonized for therefore lengthy is almost full, with solely a Super Bowl in 2024 remaining to formally full the partnership.

The lots who will collect to see the place their workforce is likely to be heading within the subsequent 12 months will discover the same old draft-day theatrics amid the intense lights of the casinos. Commissioner Roger Goodell shall be readily available to announce and greet the first-rounders — dressed of their most accurately fits and new workforce hats — and everybody watching will social gathering like their workforce has simply made the playoffs.

Interestingly sufficient, in a metropolis constructed on betting, there shall be little of it on the draft itself — and little in any respect on draft day. And, no, it’s not as a result of the NFL objected to the thought of followers screaming in glee as a result of they obtained good odds on the No. 5 choose.

Blame it on the warning of Nevada playing authorities, who’ve by no means appreciated the thought of permitting betting on something aside from precise sporting contests on the sportsbooks that line the Strip. While different states new to sports activities betting supply extra to wager on, Nevada has allowed bets on the draft solely since 2017 — and all bets that embody the title of a participant have to be made at the very least 24 hours earlier than the draft.

Also, good luck discovering a bookie keen to take greater than a few hundred bucks on an occasion the place inside data may probably give a bettor an enormous edge.

“It might be my least favorite event to book,” mentioned Jay Kornegay, a longtime oddsmaker who runs the Westgate SuperE-book. “We’ve only done it a few years, but we haven’t fared well on it at all.”

That’s largely, Kornegay mentioned, as a result of the so-called sharps previously have gotten recommendations on picks earlier than bookies themselves discovered — the one factor each sportsbook operator fears most.

The guess is that, even in Las Vegas, betting on the draft isn’t the highest precedence for a lot of the tens of 1000’s of followers who will collect over three days for the annual spectacle. They’re there principally to see who their workforce lands which may change its fortunes, and to be a part of a scene that’s turning into more and more acquainted because the NFL determined to take the draft on the street in 2015.

More than 600,000 confirmed up in Nashville in 2019 for the most important draft social gathering ever. Last 12 months, Cleveland hosted a smaller however nonetheless respectable crowd of 140,000 over three days.

What occurs in Vegas, although, shall be robust for any future web site to match. A metropolis lengthy used to internet hosting huge occasions gained’t have any hassle making this a glittering spectacle.

The future stars of the NFL shall be launched on a stage adjoining to the Caesars High Roller statement wheel, the place every night time free concert events will function acts like Weezer, Ice Cube and Marshmello. The crimson carpet stroll will happen on a stage constructed over the spectacular fountains of the Bellagio resort, the place performers from Cirque du Soleil and Blue Man Group can even do their factor.

There will even be a pop-up sportsbook on web site, although followers must be content material with betting on baseball and the NBA playoffs as a result of they will not be capable to wager on the variety of quarterbacks taken within the first spherical.

Indeed, the draft highlights how the NFL and Las Vegas are intertwined so tightly that it’s simple to overlook the Supreme Court ruling that opened the trail to legalized sports activities betting throughout the nation got here simply 4 years in the past.

At that time, the NFL wouldn’t even permit gamers inside casinos for occasions. Now followers not solely can wager on their workforce however go inside a on line casino and play a slot machine emblazoned with their workforce’s helmet.

The hypocrisy of the NFL for therefore a few years about sports activities betting stays head shaking, although there was nothing shocking about how the league embraced it as soon as the floodgates opened.

Caesars, the de facto sponsor of the draft, is a major NFL sponsor and certainly one of three playing corporations that jumped on board when the league added sports activities betting as a sponsor class. There are sportsbooks being constructed at NFL stadiums and there is not an NFL sport that goes by with out reminders to viewers in regards to the level unfold or odds on both workforce successful.

It’s simple cash for the NFL. But it’s additionally payback for a metropolis that helped construct the league to what it’s at this time by providing simply comprehensible level spreads for years that had been utilized by followers and their favourite unlawful bookies throughout the nation.

Now Las Vegas and the NFL are joined collectively for good within the frequent pursuit of the fan greenback.

The solely actual shock is how regular all of it appears.


Tim Dahlberg is a nationwide sports activities columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at or

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