Speaking during his keynote address at G2E, NBA Hall of Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson noted how the relationship between Las Vegas and professional sporting leagues has changed, with the city recently getting two professional sports franchises, and the possibility of nationwide sports wagering on the cards.
Following the address, Johnson, co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers and president of basketball operations with the Los Angeles Lakers, fielded questions from AGA president and CEO Geoff Freeman on the final day of the show.
“Remember all of the sports leagues were saying we’re staying away from Las Vegas,” Johnson said.
“The whole thing of betting and this and that, they wanted us to stay away from all of that.
“Now you have two teams coming to this great city, and the fans want it – it’s great for the NFL and it’s great for the NHL and great for the fans.
“The narrative is changing, the landscape is changing, you are going to see it moving towards something really good for all of us. All these regulations will change.”
Freeman once again highlighted that sports wagering remains a “big priority” for the AGA, affirming that the industry is working closely NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
“We’re working closely with other leagues to do the right thing here,” he stated.
“Increasingly there is a relationship with our industries – sports and live entertainment – and we think we have a great opportunity and it sounds like you agree.”
Reflecting casino operators’ increasing collaboration with the sports industry, Freeman asked Johnson about casinos and teams partnering as sponsors.
“Before it was, ‘Nope, you can’t do it. It’s bad for the image’, now you’re seeing sports teams having relationships with casinos and vice versa – it’s a way for everybody to win,” Johnson responded.
“Now the Lakers have a great relationship [with MGM]. We will continue to come here to Las Vegas and have games because we have a heavy fan base here [and] we look forward to years and years of partnership.”