HOUSTON -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell did not address directly news of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson pulling out of the Oakland Raiders' plans for a $1.9 billion, 65,000-seat stadium in his state of the league media conference on Wednesday, but Goodell did say he could not see a casino owner being heavily involved.
"I don't see an ownership position in a team from a casino," Goodell said. "That is not something that is consistent with our policies ... not likely a stadium, either."
That would seemingly give the Raiders a green light to continue pursuing relocation to Las Vegas, sans someone with casino connections.
"We haven't made a determination about Las Vegas as an NFL market," Goodell said. "That's part of the relocation process. The Raiders submitted an application; it's one that we're considering carefully. But there's a great deal more work to be done, and there are several elements of that -- financing the stadium is just one.
"Obviously, the stadium project itself, the depth of the market, all of those are things that we've studied over the last several months. But that will increase in intensity over the next month or so as we move forward in that process."
Adelson said in a statement he was withdrawing his $650 million from the project because, in part, he was not included in the Raiders' lease proposal to the Las Vegas Stadium Authority. He helped shepherd through a $750 million in public funds through a hotel tax that still stands and would be combined with the Raiders' $500 million.
The Raiders said in a statement that they still intend to move, even if Goldman Sachs, which was purportedly in line to replace Adelson's $650 million, reportedly dropped out as well.
Goodell also addressed whether legalized gambling could co-exist with the NFL.
"In fact, it does," Goodell said. "It's happening today. It's sponsored by governments. It exists throughout our world. What we have always said is we need to make sure that there's a fine line between team sports gambling and the NFL. We want to protect the integrity of our game. And that's the line we will always do."
While the Raiders were partners with Adelson early in the process of getting a stadium in Las Vegas that would be shared with UNLV, there was a growing feeling that NFL owners were not entirely comfortable with Adelson's involvement. Especially with reports that Adelson wanted a piece of the Raiders as an owner -- Raiders owner Mark Davis has said the team is not for sale -- or a path to ownership.
"We've always said we were going to maintain the integrity of the game by making sure there was a separation between sports gambling and the NFL," Goodell said. "That is something that we think is imperative for us. We want our fans to know that the game they are seeing unfold on the field does not have any undue influence. We recognize gambling occurs out of the market place.
"But this is something, from our standpoint, we have rules that are in place. The Raiders have not asked us to compromise those rules as it relates to our policies. We will continue to have that separation going forward."