Vegas Mayor says Gambling scandal no effect on quest for team

AP

Mayor
Oscar Goodman is confident allegations that an NBA referee bet on basketball
games won’t damage

Las Vegas’
bid for a team.

If
anything, Goodman said it could strengthen his city’s case.

“I
think that there’s going to be a public recognition that

Las Vegas does monitor this kind of alleged
activity,” Goodman said Friday.

“I
don’t want anyone’s bad fortune to cause us good fortune, but I think it will
cause people to look at

Las Vegas
in a light perhaps differently than they do, because we do in fact regulate
this kind of activity.”

The FBI is
investigating allegations that veteran NBA referee Tim Donaghy bet on
basketball games over the past two seasons, including ones in which he officiated.
The probe also involves allegations that he had connections to organized crime
associates, the kind of suspicious link the mayor says is closely watched in

Nevada.

Though NBA
commissioner David Stern previously had said he would not put a team in

Las Vegas as long as
there was betting on basketball, he amended his position earlier this year. He
said a decision would be left to the owners and allowed Goodman to submit a
proposal to them before the Board of Governors meetings in April.

After
those meetings, Stern said a committee would be formed to further review
Goodman’s plan, and Goodman said there since have been “light
conversations” with the league.

Goodman’s
proposal offered no compromise on gambling, such as a plan to prohibit action
on a

Las Vegas
team. He doesn’t think it’s necessary, because the Nevada Gaming Commission and
Gaming Control Board would keep a close eye on it.

“We’re
the only regulatory agency in the world that really looks at unusual activity
as far as the movement of the line and that type of conduct,” Goodman
said. “That’s why whenever red herrings are thrown up that somehow

Las Vegas is a bad place
because we have sports betting, I look at it just as a reverse. I think it’s a
good thing that

Las Vegas
has the type of regulation that makes sure that bad things don’t happen.”

Las Vegas
hosted the NBA’s All-Star game in February, the first outside of a

league city, and more
than 20 clubs sent teams here for summer league earlier this month. USA
Basketball is holding its minicamp here this weekend, and the FIBA Americas
tournament, a regional qualifier for the 2008 Olympics, comes to the campus of
UNLV next month.

“The
players conduct themselves like gentlemen, the community embraces them, and
there’s not even the slightest hint of impropriety,” Goodman said.

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