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Las Vegas can host NCAA championships after the Supreme Court’s gambling ruling

The NCAA suspended its long-standing policy against holding championship events in the city, but the Mountain West wants a permanent decision.

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The May Supreme Court decision to strike down a law prohibiting sports gambling paves the way for states to legalize sit as they see fit.

The decision is in some ways a blow to Las Vegas, which held a near monopoly on sportsbooks in the United States, but there is a small upside for the city: The NCAA is dropping its years-long ban on having championship events in the state and others that allow single-game sports wagering:

In response to the Supreme Court decision, the NCAA Board of Governors suspended the Association’s championships policy related to sports wagering. The board’s decision will ensure championship location continuity by temporarily allowing NCAA championship events to occur in states that offer sports wagering.

The suspended policy prohibited any NCAA championship competition from occurring in any state that allows single-game sports wagering.

The NCAA had long not allowed its championship events to be hosted in Las Vegas. The party line in the past read:

“The NCAA opposes all forms of legal and illegal sports wagering, which has the potential to undermine the integrity of sports contests and jeopardizes the welfare of student-athletes and the intercollegiate athletics community.”

But while the NCAA’s suspension of the ban is temporary, the Mountain West wants to make it permanent.

The men’s and women’s basketball and hockey tournaments are potential choices for the gleaming new downtown T Mobile Arena. The Pac-12, WCC, and Mountain West have each held conference tourneys in Las Vegas in recent years. Expect the Pac-12 to bring its football championship to the city as well when the Raiders’ stadium opens in 2020, and the Las Vegas Bowl is already a postseason staple.

For its part, UNLV had been on an offensive to get the NCAA to bring championship events.

UNLV athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois is being proactive. She moved quickly following the Supreme Court ruling to discuss with the Mountain West how to bring such events to Las Vegas.

“Working collaboratively with local and regional leaders, we are confident that Las Vegas can present competitively to host future competitions, as there is a proven track record of success in hosting multiple, large-scale sporting events here in Southern Nevada,” Reed-Francois said in a statement.

Former UNLV athletic director Jim Livengood has been working to change the NCAA policy, and though he said he liked the chances of that happening, he cautioned there are steps that still need to be taken.

“The key thing right now is going to be from an NCAA standpoint — I hope it’s not whether — but when the Board of Governors will take this up,” Livengood said. “I think this is a great first step. I hope it’s more than a first step.

It will be a little while before we actually see an NCAA tournament game in any sport in Las Vegas. Currently, basketball tournament sites are booked through 2022 for the men and 2020 for women. Sensibilities have changed on Las Vegas as evidenced by the NHL and NFL bringing teams to the city. The NCAA and its championship events are following suit.