MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that Las Vegas’ status as the United States’ gambling capital would not be a major factor in determining whether the league will join the NHL and NFL in placing a franchise in Sin City.
Sports leagues have long avoided Las Vegas due to concerns that proximity to legal gambling would harm the integrity of their competitions. While a federal ban on sports betting remains in place, Nevada is one of four states in which it is legal. The NHL’s Golden Knights are set to begin play in Vegas starting next season at the year-old T-Mobile Arena, while the NFL’s 32 owners voted Monday to approve the Raiders’ plan to construct a $1.7 billion stadium in the city.
“We’re past the stigma, as you put it, associated with Las Vegas,” Manfred told FOX Business. “The fact of the matter is, people can gamble even on sports wherever they want to, we know that. It’s a fact that we all live with. The actual relocation or expansion of a franchise into Las Vegas is a different issue.”
The MLB commissioner said other considerations, such as whether Las Vegas is a large enough market to support three professional sports franchises, would take precedence over any lingering concerns about sports betting. Las Vegas is becoming “a little crowded” with the NHL’s and NFL’s moves, he added.
Manfred also discussed Major League Baseball’s efforts to modernize the sport. Like the NFL and other major sports leagues, MLB officials are exploring ways to speed up the pace-of-play and limit interruptions to on-field action. Current proposals include a push to streamline the intentional walk, limit commercial breaks, speed up the instant replay process and impose limits on manager time-outs.
“Our focus right now is dead time in the game. … The key is to eliminate those parts of the game that are slow, [to] give our fans as much action as possible,” Manfred said.
MLB is working to prepare a “multiple-year plan” for pace-of-play changes by Opening Day next season, Manfred added.