Big Ten Football Las Vegas Move on the Horizon
The Big Ten conference, historically rooted in the Midwest, is exploring the possibility of hosting its football championship in Las Vegas.
Recent discussions have centered on the possibility of hosting the game at Sin City’s Allegiant Stadium (pictured), the home turf of the NFL’s Raiders.
“The Big 10 has asked us to submit proposals,” Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority head Steve Hill told Las Vegas Review-Journal.
“I’m sure they have asked a number of cities. We are certainly interested, will put our best foot forward, and know there is no better place for their football championship.”
Las Vegas has been working on becoming a center for U.S. and global sports over recent years. As well as the Las Vegas Raiders, the city hosts the recent title-winning Las Vegas Golden Knights of the NHL, and officials have long been flirting with the MLB’s Oakland Athletics. Formula 1 racing is also returning to Las Vegas in November, and Allegiant Stadium will host Super Bowl LVIII in February 2024.
No Better Place
The Big Ten’s championship football game has been a staple at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis since its inception in 2011. However, with the conference’s hosting contract with the Indianapolis Colts set to expire after the 2024 championship, new venues are being looked at.
Las Vegas, with its allure and state-of-the-art facilities, has emerged as a strong contender.
The Big Ten, despite its name, currently houses 14 universities. That number is set to rise to 18 as the conference expands its footprint. Notably, UCLA, USC, Oregon, and Washington are all slated to transition from the Pac-12 conference to the Big Ten by 2024.
Allegiant Stadium has been the venue for the Pac-12’s football championship for the past two years, and will host it again this year. However, the future of the Pac-12 is in flux, especially with its member count dwindling to just four by 2024.
College Sports and Betting: A Complicated Relationship
Las Vegas and college sports has been strengthening their ties since the 2018 repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, or PASPA.
Allegiant Stadium’s association with college football is evident, as it doubles as UNLV’s home field and has been the venue for the Las Vegas Bowl.
The Big Ten’s interest in Las Vegas may be controversial for some in the wake of recent college gambling scandals.
The National Collegiate Athletics Association, which sets the rules for all the college athletes involved in the Big Ten football championship, argued against legal sports betting in the 2018 court case that overturned PASPA.
That Supreme Court decision opened the doors for legalized sports betting, and the NCAA has had to deal with the consequences ever since.
However, national sports leagues have since enthusiastically embraced betting as it has spread across 34 states. That included deeper ties with sports betting and sports data firms, and even official NFL-branded slot machines.
This has contrasted against the gambling-related suspensions of more than 10 NFL players in 2023, and a wave of college sports betting scandals in Ohio and Alabama. In the second instance, the Alabama Crimson Tide Baseball head coach was fired after allegations he communicated with a youth coach placing a $400,000 bet on the team at a Cincinnati Sportsbook.
Despite all the controversies, a headline college football tournament considering moving across the country to the nation’s gambling capital of Las Vegas is just another indication of the shifting landscape in U.S. sports betting.