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Could Las Vegas get an MLB Team as well as an NHL one?

There is probably no shortage of baseball betting going on in Las Vegas as it is, but Sin City could end up with an MLB team of its own. League commissioner Rob Manfred has already spoken about expanding to 32 teams – citing Mexico City and Montreal as potential markets. However, with a Las Vegas expansion hockey team lacking only official confirmation to become a reality, American professional sports have come one step closer to break a tacit Vegas embargo. The four major leagues have traditionally shied away from The Gambling Capital of the World, even though it is the 42nd-largest media market in the United States.

Fans who bet on MLB and who listen to the Michael Kay Show have had an inkling on the goings on. “We passed that (the city’s gambling culture) by a long time ago, right? There are casinos all over the place,” Manfred told Kay. “I see Las Vegas as a viable alternative. I would not disqualify it just because of the gambling issue.” Manfred has been aiming to make the MLB resemble the NFL more and more (a 32-team league which in turn would warrant division rearranging; i.e., four divisions with four teams in each league), and since moving the Raiders from Oakland to Vegas has been discussed, that makes it an ever more coveted destination.

However, baseball betting fans should keep in mind that while important, expansion is not the MLBs’ top priority. First of all, Manfred wants to finalize the next collective bargaining agreement, and then settle stadium situations in Oakland and Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg. When all of that has been taken care of, then and only then can fans who bet on MLB expect the expansion to occur. The league last expanded in 1998 with the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Tampa Bay Rays. Going from 30 to 32 teams would make scheduling easier, for one thing.

Baseball betting has been a reality of the game as far back as the the 1919 Chicago Black Sox (say it ain’t so, Joe). The MLB would do well to embrace it instead of fighting it, especially when one thinks about the possible ramifications. If the league were to relax its position toward gambling, perhaps lifting Pete Rose’s lifetime ban would not be too far off? Not to go off on a rant here, but Rose obviously belongs in the MLB Half of Fame – and it surely makes you think when the WWE has more sense than Major League Baseball. After all, it’s not like Pete Rose killed anyone, so there is absolutely no reason to give him the Chris Benoit treatment.