MGM Buys WNBA’s San Antonio Stars, Plans To Relocate To Vegas

MGM Buys WNBA’s San Antonio Stars, Plans To Relocate To Vegas

Earlier this week, it was reported that MGM Resorts International purchased the San Antonio Stars – a WNBA franchise based in Texas.

Casino Operator Owns Pro-Franchise

Being that the franchise was purchased by one of the largest casino and entertainment operators in the world, it almost makes sense that the team will be finding a new home in Las Vegas.

While this would not be extraordinary news on its own, the current political climate regarding sports betting makes the move worth discussing. The San Antonio Stars are now the third professional franchise to be headed to Las Vegas. The NHL’s Golden Knights began playing this year, while the NFL’s Oakland Raiders will be in Nevada by 2020. The Stars will call the Mandalay Bay Events Center home beginning next season.

"Las Vegas has been on our radar screen for some time," stated WNBA President Lisa Borders. "We've had conversations with the MGM family, executive team. They are bringing live sports to Las Vegas."

... In The Midst Of The NJ Sports Betting Case

Being that the WNBA is a part of the NBA portfolio, we can now say that three of the five major pro-sports leagues have or will have a franchise in Las Vegas. All of these have decisions have occurred while the New Jersey sports betting case plays out in the background.

New Jersey is up against several sports leagues – the NCAA, NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB – in their battle to legalize sports betting. The state was victorious in getting their case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court after being unsuccessful in federal appeals courts.

How The Deal Contradicts The Leagues' Arugments

One of the main arguments of the leagues is that the widespread regulation of USA online sportsbooks would cause harm. Being that three of the plaintiffs will have teams in the current epicenter of sports betting, it will undoubtedly be harder to justify this particular argument.

The New Jersey case is set to be heard by SCOTUS in December, meaning that the expansion of sports betting in the United States is a real possibility in 2018. As the global casino giant MGM Resorts becomes the latest entity to own a professional sports league, the approval of the deal by the NBA is confirmation that the leagues are softening their stance on harm from sports betting.

Integrity was another key argument brought forth by the leagues. Studies on the impacts of having a pro franchise in Las Vegas were conducted before the decision to relocate any these teams was made, which also suggests that it has been evidenced that the integrity of the game will not be greatly impacted by expanding and regulating sports betting.

New Jersey - along 72% of sports fans that responded to a survey conducted by the American Gaming Association - is hoping that the US Supreme Court rules favorably and that the sports betting industry sees expansion outside of Vegas in 2018.