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Las Vegas Raiders Owner Mark Davis Agrees to Buy WNBA Aces from MGM Resorts

The Las Vegas Aces are set to get a new owner. But don’t expect the WNBA team to be on the move.

Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis, left, sits with Laborers Union Local 872 Business Manager Tommy White at a Las Vegas Aces game at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in August 2018. On Thursday, the Aces announced Davis would purchase the WNBA team from MGM Resorts International. (Image: Las Vegas Aces)

The women’s basketball team announced Thursday that Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis has agreed to buy the franchise from MGM Resorts International. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Davis said in a statement issued by the team that he was excited about the purchase. He would have more to say once the league’s board of governors approve the transaction and he can speak with the players, coaches, and staff.

While the Raiders just moved to Vegas this past year, Davis has attended several of the Aces games since they arrived in town in 2018.

Mark is a longtime champion of women’s basketball, and we believe he is the right person to lead the Aces into a new era,” said George Kliavkoff, MGM Resorts President of Entertainment and Sports.

Kliavkoff added that the Las Vegas-based gaming and entertainment company would maintain its “enthusiastic support of the WNBA, NBA, and basketball in Las Vegas.”

The team’s home arena is the MGM-owned Mandalay Bay Events Center.

Las Vegas Aces a Top WNBA Team

MGM purchased the Aces from Spurs Sports and Entertainment in 2017 and moved them from San Antonio for the 2018 season. The team became the city’s second top-division major professional sports franchise, following the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.

After finishing 14-20 and missing out on the playoffs in their first season in Vegas, the Aces has since become one of the league’s top teams.

After going 21-13 in 2019 and reaching the conference finals, the Aces – thanks largely to A’ja Wilson and Angel McCoughtry, two of the WNBA’s top scorers – posted a West Conference-best 18-4 record in the truncated 2020 season. The team reached the WNBA Finals before losing to Seattle in a three-game sweep.

It’s entirely possible the 2021 season may come up, pardon the pun, aces for Las Vegas. The 2020 season saw the Aces play without premier center Liz Cambage. The 6-8 center, considered one of the top post players in the world, stayed in her native Australia for the 2020 season after the WNBA granted her a medical exemption. Getting Cambage back would likely make them the favorites to win the league title.

MGM Resorts Making Moves

The sale of the Aces comes at the same time MGM Resorts pursues a takeover of Entain Plc, formerly known as GVC Holdings.

Earlier this month, MGM offered more than $11 billion for the British-based sports betting and gaming company. The two companies already work closely with each other. The two companies have a joint partnership in ROAR Digital, the online sportsbook and iGaming app operating as BetMGM.

A week after Entain turned down MGM, Entain’s CEO Shay Segev announced he would leave the company and become the co-CEO of sports streaming service DAZN.

With Segev to leave from Entain within the next six months, Reuters reported this week that stock analysts believe MGM will keep up its pursuit.

“The timing is especially awkward given the ongoing situation with MGM. But we think MGM may now be more encouraged to opportunistically raise its bid,” Jefferies said, according to the news service.

Steve Bittenbender

Horse Racing, Sports Betting, Gaming Legislation, Midwest and Gulfport Casinos----Steve Bittenbender is a veteran reporter, and brings more than two decades of experience covering sports, gaming business, and politics and legislation to Casino.org, which he joined in 2019. Based in Louisville, Kentucky -- the epicenter of the US horse racing industry -- Steve has also covered major collegiate and professional sports for the Associated Press and the Louisville Courier Journal, and is frequently featured on local network TV newscasts and podcasts for his horse racing business and legislative expertise. A Reuters contributor, he has also previously served as editor for Government Security News. Steve lives with his wife and son, and is an avid poker player, having learned from his uncle as a wholesome after-school pasttime with cookies and milk. Email: stevebittenbender@casino.org

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