In what is clearly a pet project of ARL Chairman Peter V’landys, the NRL is looking to play up to 10 games in Las Vegas from 2024 as part of supposed “Australia Week extravaganza”.
If it sounds like a who lot of bullshit, thats because it is.
There doesn’t seem to be any real strategic purpose to play games at Allegiant Stadium in Vega, home of the Las Vegas Raiders in the NFL. There are no plans to expand the NRL into the United States any time soon, and no contact has been made between the NRL and the USARL to help promote the local Rugby League scene in the United States.
The current deal would only last for five years, so there are no long term goals that Arte coming out of this deal….so why is it happening at all?
There is talk that the NRL is looking to open up new revenue streams in the United States through the more relaxed laws surrounding betting there, but its hard to imagine that playing 10 games over 5 years will all of a sudden see a surge of betting activity involving the NRL. Gamblers in the United States are very much like gamblers in Australia….they’ll bet on anything they can, and they’ll usually find those new betting options through their local bookmaker.
There is also the concern that the sport is being lined up as a vehicle for betting rather than, you know, a sport.
Peter V’landys comes from a horse racing background, a sport that exists 99.99% for the reason that people can gamble of it. Rugby League is not in that same position.
It will cost a lot of time and money to “promote” these NRL events in Las Vegas. Will there be any return on this investment for the game?
Of course the NRL isn’t the first sport to see Las Vegas as a golden goose. various other sports have tried and failed to get a foothold in Vegas before. It is a hard city to capture the attention of. There are always events rolling through Vegas, the worlds biggest performers can be seen on a daily basis, then on top of that you have a local population who is use to the background noise of the gaming scene there, and its hard to crack that jaded market.
It would seem that if similar effort were put into pushing for more NRL games to be played in say New Zealand, we may see more of a return on investment in regards to growing the games player base, growing the television audience in New Zealand, and all while having a long term plan of having a second NRL clubs based there.
What will we be getting out of Las Vegas when the 5 year deal is over? Nothing!
Why not play games in Honolulu to gauge interest in placing an NRL club there that could represent the Pacific region? How about we look at Indonesia, a nation with a population of 273 million just to our north? How about we look to get NRL clubs based in far flung places like Adelaide and Perth first before we look at spending time and money to promote the game in Las Vegas?
This also feels like some sort of vanity project for V’landys, who may just be using the game of Rugby League as a way to get his foot in the door to eventually push his other interests in horse racing, which actually do make a lot more sense in one of the gambling capitals of the world.