Editor's note: Mark Franco dominated the NFL by finishing with a fifth place finish in the Hilton Super Contest. Currently, Franco has put forth his football knowledge toward the AFL season. Be sure to cash in with his weekly picks.
Las Vegas and professional sports have seen little action out West. There have been numerous teams that have come and gone in the desert. The most recent team was the Las Vegas Outlaws of the now defunct XFL.
Sin City finally had its first professional football team. I enjoyed the excitement and was very interested in the gaming aspect of the Outlaws. Unfortunately, the league only existed one year and the rest is history.
The only football that received attention in Nevada was from UNLV. However, things have changed on the strip as the indoor game has taken center stage.
The Arena Football League is no new kid on the block. The AFL has been around since 1987 and is entering its 18th season. For a league to last well over a decade says something is going right.
The AFL has realized that embracing the sports betting audience could help them achieve their long-term goals of building a big time fan base. Odds are now posted at every major casino, while offshore sports books are accommodating customers as well.
The AFL is different from other professional sports leagues. They realize that betting on the games can create viewership and a following. I don't think a professional sports league will ever condone gambling, but the AFL seems to be generous with providing information about teams, players, injuries to the public.
I was fortunate enough to cover Sunday’s contest between Las Vegas and the upstart franchise New Orleans. The Thomas and Mack Center was pumping as the crowd gave a ninth-man advantage. (Only eight players start for each team).
The Gladiators fell behind 10-0 after one quarter, but quickly turned things around. Las Vegas outscored the VooDoo 50-20 in the remaining 45 minutes en route to a 50-30 victory.
Las Vegas cashed tickets as a seven-point home favorite, with the combined 80 points dipping ‘under’ the closing total of 97.
Gladiators QB Clint Dolezel proved to be a winner in more ways than one. Dolezel put his name in AFL history by throwing for his 500th touchdown pass.
The Gladiators have won two straight contests and stand at 2-2 on the season. Next Sunday, Las Vegas heads East to battle the Georgia Force in Atlanta.