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Ice In The Desert

The ‘Foley’ of Ice Hockey in Las Vegas. By Victor H. Royer

In the third week of June, we broke several heat records here in Las Vegas. In some neighbourhoods – like mine – the temperature exceeded 120 degrees Fahrenheit. And don’t ask me what that is in Celsius! All Americans think that the decimal system should be discontinued entirely, because it is so confusing.

But – not to be outdone or upstaged – in yet another brilliant move, the billionaires and their corporate cronies and various money fund gurus from Wall Street, decided to put an Ice Hockey team into Las Vegas! I can just see the founding fathers of Las Vegas turning over in their graves! Who would have thought it? Ever?

But this was not an off-the-cuff moment.

The new NHL franchise owner, Bill Foley – hence the pun in the sub-title to this article – had been working on this deal since he consorted with MGM Resort’s Jim Murren in 2014, when the Sports Arena was still being planned, and not yet built.

Now known as the T-Mobil Arena – which makes me want to give up my T-Mobil phone in disgust – is that ill-conceived stupidity with no parking which was perpetrated upon Las Vegas by the very same cabal of East Coast cronies whose only apparent desire is to break up all the resorts under their control, such as putting the actual real estate into REIT’s, and then leverage, pillage, and leverage again until they bleed it all dry, and then let it wallow in bankruptcy for years, if not decades … just like they have done in Atlantic City, and with Caesars.

In the meantime, of course, there’s a lot of hoopla around all of these shenanigans.

But who benefits?

Well, first and foremost the 30 current owners of NHL hockey teams – all billionaires – who now get to split the $500 million Franchise Fee that they imposed on Bill Foley to give him the expansion team.


And, of course, all of the Hedge Funds that now have a bigger public forum in which to tout their “accomplishments”, while at the same time all jointly salivate over the billions of dollars they will now be able to extract, and leverage, from floating shares in newly-formed derivative ventures related thereto, which they will then split into sub-divided corporations and LLC’s, and further leverage them again and again, literally sucking tens of billions of dollars from this venture, and its associated and resultant offshoots.

And all of this under the guise of seemingly “doing something really great for hockey, and for Las Vegas.”

But in reality, none of this has anything to do with helping Las Vegas at all.

Instead, it has everything to do with these few at the top of the 1% helping themselves to more and more of the pie, while also sucking up public dollars, and at the same time charging more and more for services for which their customers have already paid – like those insidiously odious parking fees now being perpetrated upon hapless gamblers at MGM Resorts casinos and hotels.

The up-side is 90% in THEIR favour, and only barely doing something for Las Vegas, or the guests and visitors who come here – and very little for the residents who live here.

The result of this is yet more congestion, more traffic, more crime, more cramming of useless non-gaming stuff, more costly hotel rooms, more costly restaurants, more costly buffets, more costly shows, more costly everything – and the only thing that gets entirely ignored in this mad frenzy of nonsense are the casinos, and their patrons and players.

OK – so to be fair – there is ONE thing that MIGHT benefit from this: The Sports Books.

Yes, with the placement of the NHL franchise in Las Vegas, where Sports Betting is legal and a serious part of the gambling business, this situation COULD show a SLIGHT benefit. More people to bet on hockey games. Maybe. And – yes – the legitimization of Sports Betting as a “skill”. Now THAT would truly be good! Right now the NHL is still fighting a two-year long legal battle with the State of New Jersey, trying to prevent them from legalizing Sports Betting.

Naturally, now that they are seemingly turning a blind eye to this issue with this expansion to Las Vegas, the national hopes are that this stance by the NHL will lead to wider, and general, acceptance among legislators everywhere – State as well as Federal – to finally extricate themselves from the flawed belief that banning Sports Betting somehow makes it “go away”, and that Sports Betting is still somehow “bad.”

The days of past-posting horse races, and “running numbers”, and the other so-called “illicit enterprises” of the early decades of the past century – still associated with organized crime and the “fixing” of sports events, like the 1919 Baseball World Series (the Black Sox scandal if you don’t know – look it up in my book: “Great Gamblers: True Stories and Amazing Facts”) – all of these “dastardly” remnants of decades past are still infecting the legislators in most US States, as well as the Federal Government. Sadly, most of these legislators are a bunch of old farts who still think the world is like it was in the 1920s. At least they behave like it, and legislate accordingly.

So, if there’s going to be any benefit to the NHL coming to Las Vegas, that is most likely the one it will bring.

Legitimizing Sports Betting is long overdue. Tens of billions of dollars are flowing to offshore sports books not just from the United States, but from all other countries that still don’t allow it. But, mostly, from the USA. So, if Sports Betting is legitimized, and allowed to flower on the Internet, US State governments, and the Federal Government, will suddenly have millions of dollars in new tax revenue, which they sorely need but don’t have now, because all that money is flowing out of the country and into offshore betting, and only a fraction of which stays in the USA, primarily in Nevada.

Licensing Online Sports Books through the Nevada Sports books, and making access to them available nationwide, would truly be a benefit.

Sadly, that is most unlikely.

Yes, there will be some form of easing the “don’t gamble on sports” grip among the legislators of the various US States, and perhaps even Federally, but not as much as would perhaps be warranted, given the costs to Las Vegas, and the burdens that this mad-dash to all things non-gaming places on a small city in the desert, with finite water resources, a decade-long drought, and little room in which to grow successfully without the kind of congestion that makes places like Los Angeles and New York a nightmare for anyone who lives there.

Las Vegas was once a beautiful jewel in the desert. The Neon Jungle, whose business was Gambling and Entertainment. THAT was what made Las Vegas world-famous, and what made it, and its business, so profitable.

Now we are getting farther and farther away from that formula, and instead turning the city into a clone of New York, and drowning it by such pressures as a result.

A friend of mine once told me – about 20 years ago – something I never forgot. We were standing up on the hill, on the West Side of Las Vegas, looking down at the glowing bright lights of the city, and lamenting how that wonderful place is being destroyed as one casino after another was imploded. He turned to me and said: “One day, this will be a nicest ghost town in the world.”

And he’s right.

Already there are signs.

The corporations and their cabal of east coast billionaire cronies are already bleeding us dry, and when they’re done, they’ll go back to their New York penthouses, and palatial Mansions in New England, the Bahamas, or Florida, while Las Vegas withers in the desert, abandoned, bankrupt, and left to decay.

And that is – and will be – the sad legacy of what is happening now. The Foley of Hockey in Las Vegas is just another nail in that now inevitable coffin.

Victor H Royer is President of Gaming Services & Research. He is a 33 year veteran of Las Vegas gaming, a 26 year consultant to the gaming industry, author of 48 books, and more than 4,000 articles on casino games and gaming. In addition he has researched and authored over 300 industry reports on the subject of player preferences, marketing, player development and customer relations. He can be reached at: DrVHR@aol.com