By ALAN SNEL
Las Vegas’ new professional soccer team will be embracing sports gambling so much that placing bets at its downtown stadium will be a main part of the club’s marketing strategy.
“We want to be the first professional sports team in America to fully embrace sports betting,” said Brett Lashbrook, owner of the Las Vegas Lights FC of the United Soccer League. “We want to take it away from the underground and move it into the sunlight.”
With the 21-35 demographic in his sights for Lights games at Cashman Field starting in February 2018, Lashbrook envisions all types of promotions to highlight the fun around betting on his team’s games.
The team plans to have billboards, electric signs and PA announcements at Cashman publicizing lines on games and all types of novelty proposition bets, Lashbrook said.
“When I went to an English Premier League game, five minutes before kick-off there was an announcement to get your bets in. Why not do it here? We are we acting afraid?,” Lashbrook said. “We know our fans want it. Let’s not make any bones about it. People are betting and seeking it out. And betting increases the enjoyment of the event.”
Lashbrook wants to be clear about how sports betting will be conducted at Lights games. He envisions most fans at soccer games at Cashman will be using sports gambling apps from casino operators such as Station Casinos, MGM Resorts International or Westgate Las Vegas on their mobile devices to place bets.
“The mobile app is the game changer,” Lashbrook told LVSportsBiz.com Monday. “The mobile app has opened all typed of possibilities. We can have everyone in the stands placing a real time bet.”
He noted that with the state approving mobile gaming, the Lights will take advantage of sports betting and “actually acknowledge it and embrace it.”
It’s a possibility, he noted, that a local casino can apply with state gaming regulators to have an on-site sports betting operation right at the Lights games. Taking bets at off-site locations would come down to the terms of the gambling license held by the casino operator, he said.
“There’s gambling on sports on off-shore accounts. We might as well get the tax revenue and bring in the regulators who are the experts,” Lashbrook said.
Lashbrook said his team can forge sponsor relationships with William Hill, CG Sports and casinos. But he noted the Lights will in no way have a direct connection to the handle and wagers. In fact, Lashbrook believes there would be a cap on the handle and how much someone could bet on Lights games and side prop bets. Sports books keep an eye on handles to detect unusual betting trends and what lines and prop bets are the most popular.
Lashbrook said he backs NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s 2014 letter to the New York Times endorsing the legalizing and regulating of betting on pro sports games.
And sports gambling is part of Las Vegas’ DNA, he noted. Indeed, days when fans bet on Super Bowls and NCAA college basketball March Madness tournaments are practically unofficial holidays in sports books in Sin City.
“I am convinced that everyone who lives in Las Vegas won’t think twice about it. It’s part of the ethos and fabric of our community,” Lashbrook said.
There is no end to the number of proposition bets that can be offered for a Lights game. Wagers can be made on the over/under, when the first goal is scored, the half-time score and when the first corner kick or throw-in takes place.
“You can bet as far as your imagination will go,” Lashbrook said.
“This is another factor that will make the the fan experience unique,” he said.
Lashbrook said a team partnership with a local hotel-casino such as Station Casinos would make sense because Station Casinos are targeting locals — the demographic the Lights would be tapping into, too.
He said local hotel sports books can benefit from fans betting on Lights games with their apps because it could prompt them to bet on other sports, too.
“It’s Las Vegas. Why are we shying away from who we are. It’s a big driver in our local economy,” Lashbrook said.
Contact LVSportsBiz.com founder/writer Alan Snel at asnel@LVSportsBiz.com