Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senator Chuck Schumer are being prodded to make upcoming talks on legalizing sports betting, at the state and federal level, contingent on major league sports’ willingness to significantly expand their franchise footprints into smaller markets.
The major league sports — including the National Football League, the National Hockey League, the National Basketball Association, and Major League Baseball — have been lobbying heavily for the legalization of sports betting. The prospect could means tens of billions of dollars in additional revenue for the leagues, cable television providers, and online gaming applications.
Political operatives think that it could make for a win-win for the leagues — who will instantaneously become the biggest casinos in the world — and the politicians, who can deliver major league sports teams to smaller and more politically discontent markets, in an effort to placate the masses with notions of fandom.
With four major national leagues, a modest expansion could go a long way towards rewarding longtime Senators and rising star Governors who have been friends to the industry, and who show promise for future advocacy.
San Antonio, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, and Memphis would be markets likely to land NFL expansion teams.
There are many mid-sized markets that lack a NBA franchise — including Seattle, San Diego, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Pittsburg, and Buffalo. The NBA may benefit more than other leagues from expansion, where many areas of the country lack a regional ‘hometown’ team to follow.
New Orleans, Rochester, Charlotte, and Portland would be desirable markets for Major League Baseball.
It’s unclear how aggressively the NHL would be willing to expand into warmer climate markets like Houston, Atlanta, Jacksonville, or Albuquerque — or whether an expansion in colder climate markets would be more successful (perhaps in Portland, Milwaukee, Kansas City, or Cleveland).