Fans at future Las Vegas Raiders home games will be able to legally place bets on their phones from inside the planned $1.9 billion, 65,000-seat stadium -- unless the league can persuade Nevada gaming officials to change policy.
Last week, the Las Vegas Stadium Authority unanimously approved a conditional lease agreement for the Raiders. NFL owners are expected to vote on ratifying the lease at this week's spring meetings in Chicago.
The lease includes language that prohibits "any Gaming or Gambling, the maintaining or operating of a Gaming Establishment and/or sports wagering or any wagering on racing or other non-sports events."
However, according to the stadium authority and Nevada gaming officials, nothing in the lease blocks access to the mobile sports betting apps offered by the majority of the state's regulated sportsbooks. Nevada books have been offering mobile sports betting for several years, allowing bettors to place wagers on their mobile devices from anywhere inside state lines.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told ESPN in an email that the Raiders "are required to abide by League rules on the matter." McCarthy did not elaborate on which rule he was referring to, and the Raiders did not respond to a request for comment.
The NFL could ask the Nevada Gaming Commission to prohibit access to the mobile sports betting apps at the stadium using available geolocation technology.
"The NFL has not approached me for any policy decisions," Nevada Gaming Commissioner chairman Tony Alamo told ESPN. "The Nevada Gaming Commission is the policy maker for the state of Nevada and gaming, and they have not approached us in any shape, way or form."
Commissioner Roger Goodell indicated in April that the league would not request that Raiders games be removed from the betting boards at Nevada sportsbooks. The NFL has time to shape its policy, though.
The Raiders plan to play in Oakland the next two seasons, and the Las Vegas stadium is not expected to be completed until 2020.
The popularity of mobile sports betting apps in Nevada has increased significantly in recent years. More than half (53 percent) of all money bet at William Hill's Nevada sportsbook is done so via the company's mobile app. MGM, CG Technology, Wynn, Station Casinos and the Westgate SuperBook are among the other bookmakers that offer sports betting apps.
Mobile betting is also popular in the United Kingdom, where, like Nevada, sports betting is legal. The NFL plays multiple games in the U.K. annually. The league shuts down betting kiosks that are located inside venues like Wembley Stadium, but mobile wagering takes place inside the stadium regardless.