Las Vegas has long been a bucket list destination for people around the world for decades. The bright lights and casinos of the city in the desert have been the kind of vacation that you save up for. But apart from the big boxing fights staged in the big casino hotels of the Strip, it has not always been a perfect place for a sports fan to take a break.
All that has changed now, with a number of major league teams calling Vegas home. The Las Vegas sports betting markets – always a major part of the city – now feature local teams as well as those from around the country. Here’s our guide to the big teams in Las Vegas – and a little bit of history to explain why the current situation was not always the case.
Past Issues with Pro Sports
Until the NHL expanded its league with the Golden Knights in 2016, Las Vegas was one of the biggest cities in the United States not to have a major league pro sports team. There were a few reasons for that, but the main stumbling block was the perceived problem of legal sports betting.
All the big four pro leagues had always been very anti-gambling and the idea of a team in the center of the sports betting world was something that they just could not permit. But after fantasy sports took off, the leagues relaxed their views on the subject, allowing the possibility of teams in Vegas.
Vegas Golden Knights
The NHL was the first league to make the big move. Representatives of other sports had previously stated that getting a team in Las Vegas would be incredibly successful – and they were proved correct instantly. The city took hockey – and the Golden Knights – to their hearts.
That support was almost immediately repaid, with the Golden Knights sensationally making it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals in their very first season. No new team had managed that since 1968. There has been further playoff success nearly every year since. But there has been no championship win for the Golden Knights – yet.
Las Vegas Aces
After the instant success and popularity of the Golden Knights hockey team, pro sports leagues were clamoring for their own piece of the pie. The WNBA was the next to make the move though, with a city-based group announcing that they were buying the San Antonio Stars and would move them to Vegas.
The Aces found life a little more difficult in their first year but have made the playoffs every season since, getting as far as the WNBA finals in 2020 when they lost to Seattle. But this year will go down in history, as the Aces became the first sports team from Las Vegas to win a national championship.
Las Vegas Raiders
Las Vegas now has legions of hometown fans rooting for teams across a multitude of sports. But it is the NFL franchise that is arguably the most high profile. The Raiders are one of the biggest teams in the league and enjoyed fervent support in Oakland and Los Angeles, winning three Super Bowls over the years.
But in 2017, years of resistance ended when the league owners unanimously agreed for the Raiders to be able to relocate to Las Vegas. Three years later, in 2020, the NFL finally saw a team play in the city at the all-new Allegiant Stadium. A winning record in its second season saw Las Vegas make it to the postseason where it lost to Cincinnati in the wild card playoffs.
Future Expansion Teams
It is undeniable that major league sports has been a huge success in Las Vegas. With sports betting laws changing nationwide as well, the leagues could see that there was really no real way they could stop franchises from wanting to come to the city.
Now there will be constant rumors of NBA and MLB teams coming to Vegas. It will take money – but there is a lot of that here – and it would not be a surprise if in a very short period of time Las Vegas becomes the latest city to host teams in all of the big four leagues.