Las Vegas used to be on the NFL’s blacklist.
It is time for the “Big Game” in a city that the National Football League refused to recognize once upon a time called Las Vegas. Twenty-one years ago, the National Football League told the Walt Disney Company’s ABC television network that it could not air a Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority commercial because of a clause in its contracts with TV network partners that prohibited gambling-related advertising. The 2003 ad featured a woman entering a limousine wearing sexy evening apparel and exiting at the airport in business attire. That was it, it was basically a spot that tried to draw people to Las Vegas for some sort of entertainment but there was no mention of gambling. Dennis Lewin was the NFL’s Senior Vice President For Broadcasting at the time and a former ABC executive said the ad would be rejected ”even if there was no reference to gambling” because the NFL did not want to be associated with Las Vegas and Nevada because it was the only state that allowed legalized sports gambling. That statement was not entirely true as Oregon, Delaware and Montana could offer legalized sports gambling at that time.
What changed and why is Las Vegas hosting a Super Bowl? It goes back to the attempts of Delaware and New Jersey to establish sportsbooks. New Jersey voters said yes to opening sportsbooks in the state in 2011. The NFL went to court to stop New Jersey from opening sportsbooks and over the course of six years won every court case that it filed fighting New Jersey’s attempt at establishing a state sportsbook. But on May 14th, 2018 the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. That opened the door for legalized sports gambling nationally. Las Vegas was no longer off limits.
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