Jason Behnken / AP
Sunday, April 2, 2017 | 2 a.m.
When the Raiders arrive in Las Vegas, they’ll bring thousands of NFL fans along with them. Fans of teams across the country will surely schedule vacations around their team traveling to Las Vegas, and it’s never too early to start planning.
The easiest travel arrangements to schedule will come for fans of teams within the Raiders’ AFC West division. The Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs will each play in Las Vegas annually once the move is complete. For the other 28 teams, it’s slightly more complex.
The NFL designs its schedule each year using a formula that rotates which division teams play from each conference. This means the Raiders are guaranteed to play each team in the AFC at least once every three years, and each team in the NFC at least once every four years.
The Raiders will play two home games and two away games against the divisions they are matched up with on a given year. As a result, we can safely project seven of the home games. The eighth is impossible to determine now because it depends on where the Raiders finish each season.
Looking ahead, fans of the New York Jets, New England Patriots, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints will be highly motivated to visit Las Vegas first, while fans of the Bears and Lions may wait until 2027.
Based on the NFL’s current schedule rotation, here’s what the Raiders’ home schedules will look like for the first eight years in Las Vegas, beginning in 2020 when the stadium is expected to be completed.
Raiders will spur even more NFL betting
With all the money they wagered on football in Nevada last year, bettors could have almost built the Las Vegas Raiders’ new stadium themselves.
Gamblers bet just short of $1.7 billion, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, marking the fifth straight year that the total amount eclipsed $1.5 billion but not quite the estimated $1.9 billion to construct the stadium. A team relocating to Las Vegas might be one of the only factors that could make the statewide handle even larger.
“The NFL already lives so far on its own that I don’t see it going through the roof or anything outrageous,” South Point’s veteran bookmaker Jimmy Vaccaro said. “But it will only enhance it; I think it will boost up about 5 percent, somewhere in that ballpark.”
The Raiders’ eight annual home games in the regular season specifically should rank among the most wagered events of the year. Vaccaro estimated a swarm of action — and not just on one side.
Sure, local recreational gamblers might load up on the home team to give themselves some extra rooting interest, but traveling fan bases are bound to do the same for the visitors.
“I guarantee if you live in Buffalo, and you know there’s a Bills game in Las Vegas on Nov. 25, you’re making plans to be here,” Vaccaro said. “And I imagine this will be a thing where people want to be a part of (sports betting). So you’ll have your point spreads, you’ll have your over/unders, your way to buy in besides just rooting for the team.”