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Las Vegas bets big on professional sports

Vegas Golden Knights right wing Reilly Smith (19) and Vegas Golden Knights center Jonathan Marchessault (81) are challenged for the puck by Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen (2) during their NHL hockey game Saturday, December 23, 2017, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. CREDIT: Sam Morris/Las Vegas News Bureau

(CNBC) Professional sports teams are about to bring Sin City a big chunk of revenue as non-gaming sources add to Las Vegas' coffers.

The NHL's newest franchise, the Golden Knights, are tied for first in their division, bringing local and visiting fans to the T-Mobile Arena.

"They're spending money, so we are creating a lot of business momentum for Las Vegas by being this hometown team," said Golden Knights owner Bill Foley.

Hockey isn't the only sport Las Vegas has to offer. The Raiders broke ground on the stadium where they'll play professional football in 2020, and the United Soccer League is bringing the Las Vegas Lights to town next year.

Now, companies with global gambling dominance are betting big on sports. MGM owns a big stake in the arena where the Golden Knights play, and just bought the WNBA's worst performing team, the Las Vegas Aces.

While other teams are struggling to make a profit, MGM's CEO Jim Murren says he's prepared to ante up. "I'm very optimistic about the future of the WNBA, particularly in a market that is so entertainment focused as Las Vegas."

Murren says 65 percent of MGM's revenue now comes from non-gaming sources, but believes the sports industry is more than just the bottom line. "It sure certainly feels good that we're going to be able to bring another opportunity to bring the community together," said Murren.

For decades, sports leagues and gaming's governing bodies resisted putting professional teams in Las Vegas because they were worried about the overlap between sports and sports betting. That has changed as the nation moves toward widespread acceptance of gambling.

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