Daniel Negreanu is exactly the type of person you’d call a betting man, and the professional poker player thinks the odds are in favor of Las Vegas getting an NHL team.
In an interview with NHLExpertPicks.com, a hockey betting website, the six-time World Series of Poker champion said he’s willing to put the chances of a team in Vegas closer to a 100 percent than many would think.
“I put it at a 92.4 percent chance that Las Vegas gets an NHL team,” he told NHLExpertPicks.com. Talk about near certainty coming from a guy who has made a living off of knowing, and playing, his percentages. The only thing that stands in the way of a team is completing the ticket drive and proving the market is a viable one for NHL hockey.
Citing great ownership in Bill Foley, whom Negreanu says is committed and simply wants to win, and having an arena ready to go in May 2015, the poker star isn’t wrong that the ticket drive is the next step. But he also doesn’t think the ticket drive will be a problem, citing the city’s population of two million and that the group only needs 10,000 people who are interested in season tickets. Negreanu added that the team wouldn’t be a gimmick, either. Las Vegas, he says, is ready to embrace its first professional sports team.
In an interview with USA Today’s Kevin Allen, Foley said market research has discovered that there are upwards of 100,000 people living less than 35 miles outside of Las Vegas’ core that are hockey fans. With numbers like that, one would expect Negreanu has reason to have confidence in his 90-plus percent estimate.
However, one of the greatest fears for the NHL, and one that has potentially kept other professional sports leagues out of Las Vegas, is the possibility of illegal betting or corruption taking place. Negreanu told NHLExpertPicks.com that corruption is simply not something that needs to be worried about.
“This is a non-issue," he told the site. "With online gambling as popular as it is now, you don’t have to make big bets in Vegas anymore. There is a possibility for corruption anywhere. Besides, with the amount of money these athletes make today, there is way too much at stake. No athletes are taking dives anymore. It’s just not going to happen.”
Whether the NHL ends up in Nevada is yet to be seen, but if Negreanu is to be believed, it’s only a matter of time before the league goes all-in on Las Vegas.