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Las Vegas & Pro Sports: a potential way forward for governments to stop subzidizing pro sports venues
September 3, 2017
Constantly renewing itself, Las Vegas is moving into another a new era. Las Vegas sportsbooks have been legally accepting wagers since sports betting was made legal in Nevada in 1951. Once shunned by professional sports leagues for its association with gambling, or perhaps more correct, their refusal to share gambling profits, with a regional population now exceeding 2 million, Las Vegas will soon welcome two professional sports teams as these leagues appear to have moved past their distaste for the profits that Las Vegas sportsbooks have been making on the backs of their event results.
In the Fall of 2017, the National Hockey League will welcome the Las Vegas Golden Knights to the T-Mobile Arena, located right on the Vegas Strip among dozens of Casinos and sportsbooks. Despite the ability to request that the local bookmakers take the Golden Knights events off the board, Las Vegas bookies will likely continue to offer NHL odds for all games.
Perhaps as soon as the 2019 season, Las Vegas will also welcome the relocation of the Oakland Raiders franchise to play at a brand new Las Vegas football stadium that will be adjacent to the Strip and the Mandalay Bay Casino resort. Again, Las Vegas sportsbooks will likely continue to offer NFL odds for all games.
With this, Las Vegas is providing an example of a potential way forward with regard to addressing the the longstanding pattern of professional sports teams that constantly put undo pressure on local governments for subsidization of their new for-profit venues.
The geography of UK bookmakers: How online betting is changing the high street
Sports betting has been legal in a widespread manner in the United Kingdom since the Betting and Gaming Act of 1960 allowed bookmakers to operate away from their previous havens at horse racing tracks. From 1961, several highly recognizable companies such as William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral and others grew their presence within UK high streets to a peak of 16,000 retail betting shops during the 1970s. However, the number of betting shops has since decreased by over 40% to around 9,000 locations. This decline in betting shops and the jobs they bring to each high street area can be directly attributed to the shift toward online sport betting. Online betting in the UK began to offer customers significant enhancements with regard to value received due to tax savings, convenience, safety and an improved overall experience.
With the proliferation of the internet in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the incumbent UK bookmakers recognised the opportunity that the internet presented to their business and took their brands online in order to supplement their existing retail betting operations. Additionally, several online-only bookmakers opened their own betting sites, providing the incumbents with increased competition, syphoning business away not only from their online operations, but their shops as well. This period marks the start of the decline in the number of bricks and mortar betting shops. The decline accelerated in the late 2000s as all these companies took their online businesses offshore in order to avoid paying UK taxes, thus providing UK customers with better value as compared to betting within the UK at retail locations. Although this tax loophole was closed in late 2014 so that even offshore bookmaker companies had to pay taxes from bets placed by UK customers, consumer behavior had been significantly altered – customers mainly preferred betting online.
Furthermore, with ever improving internet download speeds and mobile infrastructure, customers continue to enjoy the enhanced features available when betting online as compared to frequenting the betting shops. The benefits of betting online include the ability to use fast and safe payment methods, the ability to bet instantly in-play during an event and the ability to compare betting odds online between bookmakers in order to maximize potential returns. This safety, convenience, improved value and overall improved customer experience has further diminished the attractiveness of retail betting shops which have gained a reputation as having become dangerous places.