Reports are circulating that a National Hockey League team is “a done deal” to be placed in Las Vegas. For years, the NHL has ruled out expansion to 30 teams, but according to the report, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is now on board to add two new franchises.
Sources close to the situation have indicated Las Vegas is a done deal, the only thing to be determined being which owner will be entitled to proclaim that he brought the first major league sports franchise to Sin City.
And given how dead set against a team in the gambling haven the commissioner was 10 years ago, this move into another player friendly state-tax-free zone represents a considerable about-face indeed.
It’s assumed that the team would play in the new MGM Arena being built behind the New York, New York casino on The Strip.
As for who would own the franchise, the Maloof family of Las Vegas, former owners of the Sacramento Kings, have expressed an interest in buying an NHL team, so they would be considered the front runners.
There is the legitimate question of sports betting in Las Vegas. It’s unlikely that the sports books would take games played by a new Las Vegas franchise off the betting board. The books voluntarily did so in the mid 80′s when the Utah Jazz played a split-schedule in Las Vegas, but sports betting today is seen as more legitimate than it was 30 years ago, and pro sports leagues have become more comfortable with betting on their games.
The NHL holds its annual Awards Banquet in Las Vegas.
UPDATE: Fox Sports is reporting this afternoon that the NHL will not be expanding in 2017. Stay tuned.