Vegas mayor doesn't think gambling allegations will hurt city's NBA dream

LAS VEGAS -- 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

"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

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.