NHL could decide on Quebec City, Las Vegas expansion in next few months: Gary Bettman

The National Hockey League could decide whether to expand to Las Vegas or Quebec City in the next few months, Commissioner Gary Bettman said.

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“We’re not under any deadlines,” Bettman said in an interview at the Beyond Sport United conference at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Expansion applications from Las Vegas, by Fidelity National Bank Inc. Chairman Billy Foley, and from Quebecor Inc. for Quebec City were the only two made before Monday’s deadline, the NHL said yesterday. Each bid had a $10 million application fee, of which $2 million was non-refundable, and the overall expansion fee is $500 million, according to the Seattle Times.

The league hasn’t decided whether either of the cities will be selected to join the 30 current franchises.

“That’s what this process is about — if we’re going to expand, and if we are, where?” Bettman said.

The NHL’s Nordiques played in Quebec City from 1979-95 before moving to Denver to become the Colorado Avalanche.

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None of the four major U.S. team sports has a franchise in Nevada, the only state that allows gambling on individual games. Bettman said Las Vegas’s gambling laws are “one of many things that has to be evaluated” during the expansion process.

The NHL, other top leagues and the National Collegiate Athletic Association are suing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to halt his attempt to add sports gambling at racetracks and Atlantic City casinos.

While National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver last year came out in favour of a regulated federal sports-gambling industry, Bettman remained more skeptical.

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

“If there’s going to be a change in gambling, there needs to be a good focus on a myriad of issues, including what will that do to the games in person?” he said. “Will it change the atmosphere, and what will it represent in terms of athletes who are typically role models for children? What will it do with respect to how sport and athletes are perceived? That’s a discussion that people should have.”

Bettman saw no such conflicts arising from the growth of daily fantasy sports, in which fans win or lose bets based on the statistical performance of players they choose to be in teams. The NHL in November announced a long-term marketing partnership with DraftKings Inc., one of the top two daily fantasy companies.

“Fantasy sports is not the same as legalized gambling,” Bettman said. “It’s completely different.”

Source: National Post Quebec Nordiques