National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell says Las Vegas Sands casino magnate Sheldon Adelson never stood a chance at acquiring an ownership stake in the Oakland Raiders.
On Monday, Adelson issued a statement saying he was withdrawing his $650m commitment to help build a new stadium in Las Vegas that would serve as the new home of the Raiders should their relocation plans be approved by the other NFL owners.
Raiders owner Mark Davis quickly suggested the stadium deal was still a go and that investment bank Goldman Sachs would help make up the shortfall caused by Adelson’s withdrawal. But Tuesday brought news that Goldman Sachs was also pulling out of the deal, putting the Raiders relocation plans on seriously shaky ground.
On Wednesday, Goodell (pictured) held his annual pre-Super Bowl Q&A with the media, during which he was queried regarding Adelson’s alleged demand for an ownership stake in the Raiders in exchange for his financial assistance.
Goodell’s response didn’t mince words, saying he didn’t see “any ownership position of a team for a casino. That is not consistent with league policy. That’s not likely for a stadium either.” Goodell insisted that the Raiders “have not asked us to compromise” the league’s policies and the NFL “will continue to have that separation going forward.”
The NFL has long had a zero tolerance policy vis à vis gambling, particularly sports betting, although it has wholeheartedly embraced pseudo betting via daily fantasy sports. The NFL even relaxed its policy on prohibiting teams from accepting casino advertisements a couple years back.
Asked whether the NFL ever saw itself co-existing with legal gambling, Goodell insisted that the league had always maintained that it needs “to make sure that there’s a fine line between team sports gambling and the NFL” so that fans know that they game they’re watching isn’t subject to any “undue influence.”
Goodell is proving the perfect commissioner for this current age of ‘alternative facts,’ given that billions are already bet on the NFL each year, not to mention the fact that two-thirds of American find sports betting morally acceptable and Nielsen surveys suggest the NFL’s ratings would get a boost from legal betting. But, you know, evil.