Las Vegas Mayor: Gambling Allegations Won't Hurt City's Quest For A Team

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 submita 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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