If the Raiders want to have an officiating crew at the first game they play in Las Vegas, then the NFL is going to have change one of its weirdest rules, which you probably didn’t even know about: NFL officials aren’t allowed to visit Sin City during the season.
Under current league policy, every NFL game official is banned from visiting Las Vegas during the NFL preseason, regular season and postseason.
Once the season is over, officials are allowed to visit Vegas, but they have to notify the league office before they make that visit. Although the officials are allowed to visit Vegas during the offseason, they’re still not allowed to visit any sports books and they’re not allowed to bet on any sports.
According to ESPN.com, the rule has been in place for “decades,” and it was put in place so that the league could avoid any conflict of interest or potentially controversial situations. Just think, if an official made a bad call in a game, and fans found out he was in Vegas two days before he made the call -- and bet on the team that benefited from the call -- there might be some outrage (think Tim Donaghy and the NBA).
In the book The Third Team, several NFL officials gave author Richard Lister a few more details on what kind of rules they face during the regular season. Not only are officials banned from Las Vegas, but they also can’t visit Atlantic City, New Jersey. Not to mention, “Each official is given a list of bars and other establishments in each NFL city where there is known gambling activity, legal or otherwise, and that official is forbidden from patronizing that establishment.” (via Football Zebras).
During the offseason, NFL officials have to notify the league within 24 hours any time they visit a casino, no matter where that casino is located.
With the Raiders now officially moving to Vegas, Packers president Mark Murphy admitted that league will likely have to try to figure out ways to avoid controversy in Sin City.
“I do think that’s something we’ll discuss,” Murphy said, via ESPN.com, “and [go over] what kind of precautions are going to be taken to ensure that we don’t have a major scandal coming out of having a team in Las Vegas.”
Obviously, the “Don’t visit Vegas” rule will be lifted for NFL officials at some point before the Raiders actually move, but what happens after that? Football Zebras speculates that the league might end up sequestering officials in their hotel before they officiate a game in Vegas.
For NFL officials, what happens in Vegas might actually stay in Vegas, and that’s mostly because nothing is going to happen if they’re locked in their hotel rooms.