As sad as it is to accept it is time to come to the realization that the NFL season will be cut short in some way in 2011. The first preseason game is scheduled for about seven weeks from now and there is no end in sight for this lockout. There have been some predictions that the NFL may only play eight games this year. While I think it is too soon to make that dire prediction I think it is safe to say that at the very least the preseason games will be affected.
The NFL players and owners are not the only ones that will feel the pinch of the loss of games. There are countless other industries that will be affected. The TV networks, while losing money off of the NFL games, make up for that from advertising during pregame shows, post game shows, news programs from viewer loyalty and advertisements for other programming pushed during NFL broadcasts that otherwise could not be shown to the massive audiences NFL games draw.
Besides the networks there are hundreds of thousands of jobs that could be affected by a continued lockout. Communities around NFL stadiums tend to be poor and NFL games are a source of income for the neighborhoods that surround the stadium. Everything from off site parking, to street vendors, to jobs created at the stadiums will be affected and hit already poor neighborhoods even harder.
Football season can make or break a sports bar. The number of people that go to sports bars to watch out of market games or even the home team can keep a sports bar afloat during the down times of the year. In this aspect there is no city that would be hit harder by a loss of NFL games like Las Vegas.
Even though Las Vegas does not have any pro sports Las Vegas is definitely a sports town. The difference between Las Vegas and other sports towns though is that most fans are only as loyal as the team on their sports betting ticket. Nevada is the only state in the country where sports betting is legal and Las Vegas is the city that most of those bets are made. While the sports books are not very profitable overall it is a major draw for casinos and the city as a whole.
The amount of space taken up by a sports book could be more profitable if it were more slot machines or rented out to a restaurant. Brick and mortar sports books have huge overheads. They have many full time handicappers, employees to take bets, free drinks for bettors, TV game packages that must be purchased, custodial services to clean the sportsbook area, furniture that must be bought, waitresses that serve drinks, security and so much more. All of this eats into profits.
The main goal of the sports book is to draw people into the casino. While the game is being played bettors will often play video poker at a bar or play poker creating more revenue for the casino. Some casinos have TVs in the table game area so players can play higher limit games without taking their eye off of the TV screen.
Another important loss would come from overall tourism. Tens of thousands of people come to Las Vegas each weekend for the sole purpose of sports betting. If these people do not come then hotel room revenue, hotel jobs, entertainment revenue and transportation taxes are all lost.
I do not feel that this will affect the online sportsbooks nearly as much. Even though there will be lost revenue the overhead for online gambling businesses is much lower. They do not have to provide anything but payment processing, a website and a customer support center to take bets. While those are expensive it is nowhere near the expense a brick and mortar sportsbook has.
I hope that as soon as I post this it becomes obsolete and the NFL and their players announce a settlement. I have never been much of an optimist though. I can think of one positive that could come out of a loss of the 2011 NFL season. I will not have to watch my Carolina Panthers go 2-14 again.