FBI Probes NBA Referee’s Alleged Betting

“I think it’s a good thing that Las Vegas has the type of regulation that makes sure that bad things don’t happen.”

Benson said he didn’t work with Donaghy much.

Goodman argues that legalized gambling, monitored by the Nevada Gaming Commission, prevents these types of suspicious activities.

Kornegay said legal sports betting in Nevada represents a fraction of sports betting worldwide, with 98.5 percent of all action taken outside the state. “Those are people that you work with and that you literally — you spend more time with those people than you do with your family.”

The investigation first was reported Friday by the New York Post.

“We would like to assure our fans that no amount of effort, time or personnel is being spared to assist in this investigation, to bring to justice an individual who has betrayed the most sacred trust in professional sports, and to take the necessary steps to protect against this ever happening again.”

“Whispers would have happened on the street, and we would have heard something,” Kornegay said. The NBA, for example, discusses gambling at rookie orientation, even bringing in former mobster Michael Franceze to speak.

Defense attorney John Lauro confirmed Donaghy is under investigation but refused to comment on the allegations or the case.

“We haven’t seen anything like that in the NBA that I can remember,” he said, “and we haven’t been contacted by anybody.”

The FBI probe, which began recently, also involves allegations that the referee had connections to organized crime associates. Clayton cited a 2005 estimate by the National Gambling Impact Study Commission that found $380 billion is wagered on illegal sports betting, compared with $2.25 billion in legal sports betting in Nevada.

Jay Kornegay, executive director of the sports book at the Las Vegas Hilton, said he had never seen any unusual activity in NBA betting, and was surprised not to have heard about an investigation until Friday.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Donaghy officiated 68 games in the 2005-06 season and 63 games in 2006-07. … “Any type of suspicious or unusual movements, you usually hear in the industry. We’re so regulated and policed, any kind of suspicion would be discussed.

The referee had a gambling problem, according to the official, and was approached by low-level mob associates through an acquaintance.

“At this point, it’s too early to know if any games were affected,” Avello said, adding that no regulators or investigators had contacted him about the case.

According to a law enforcement official, authorities are examining whether the referee made calls to affect the point spread in games on which he or associates had wagered.

“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,” he said. “However, we will continue to monitor them to ascertain whether there is any connection to Nevada’s licensed sports books.”

“As we previously stated, we have been cooperating with the FBI in their investigation of allegations that a single NBA referee bet on NBA games that he officiated,” commissioner David Stern said in a statement Friday afternoon.

“I’m shocked, terribly shocked,” said Gary Benson, an NBA official for 17 years who retired two years ago because of knee problems.

The law enforcement official, who spoke to the AP on Friday on condition of anonymity, said the referee was aware of the investigation and had made arrangements to surrender as early as next week to face charges. He also worked 20 playoff games, including five last season.

Although asked by the government not to comment, Stern said the naming of Donaghy prompted a fuller statement.

Gambling long has been a problem in sports, and leagues have made a point of educating players of the potential pitfalls. Other arrests are expected, the official said.

The law enforcement official said the bets involved thousands of dollars and were made on games during the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 seasons.

. The official, who did not identify the referee, is familiar with the investigation but was not authorized to speak publicly about the ongoing investigation.

Nevada gambling regulators were not involved in an investigation and had no information about the allegations, said Jerry Markling, enforcement chief for the state Gaming Commission and Gaming Control Board.

“You have a lot of acquaintances and very few friends. I probably worked a handful of games with him overall, just a handful.”

Veteran oddsmaker John Avello, at the Wynn resort on the Las Vegas Strip, said that without specific information it would be difficult to identify wagering irregularities over the last two seasons.

NEW YORK –  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.

NBA commissioner David Stern had long objected to putting a team in Las Vegas because it permits betting on basketball, though earlier this year allowed Mayor Oscar Goodman to submit a proposal to owners on how the city would handle wagering on a team if it moved there.

Markling, in Las Vegas, said he learned of the probe from news accounts.

“The allegations were new to us,” said Mark Clayton, a control board member

NBA bets on winning back fans | Reuters

Over the last decade, none have been better at collecting championships than the San Antonio Spurs, who enter the new campaign seeking their fifth title in 10 years.

Referee Tim Donaghy’ admission he bet on games he officiated and passed on inside information to bookies has inflicted severe damage to the NBA’s credibility with the toll likely to mount as investigations continue.

The night’s other matchup will see two of the league’s marketing dynamos clash when Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers host Yao Ming and the Houston Rockets.

Trade rumors have once again started to circulate, the Chicago Bulls reportedly making another bid for Bryant.

After spending much of summer demanding a trade, Bryant is expected to be on the floor for the Lakers despite a wrist injury that kept him out of the team’s final exhibition contest.

The Miami Heat and Detroit Pistons also look ready to figure into the Eastern Conference battle.

In Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal the Miami Heat still pack the NBA’s best one-two punch and if the two all-stars can stay healthy another championship could be headed to South Florida.

San Antonio will be part of the opening night action against the Portland Trail Blazers and the Utah Jazz take on the Golden State Warriors.

While restoring integrity will be the NBA’s newest priority, the goal for the league’s 30 teams remains the same — winning a title.

Garnett, who came to Boston in a blockbuster trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves, joins Ray Allen and Paul Pierce in Beantown, instantly transforming the crumbling Celtics into championship contenders.

By Steve Keating

| NEW YORK

NEW YORK After a summer spent expanding its global brand with exhibition games from Shanghai to Rome, the NBA opens a new season on Tuesday looking to win back home fans following a gambling scandal which rocked the sport to its core.

Yao, however, could be in for some stiff competition off the court following the arrival of compatriot Yi Jianlian, who has hogged the international spotlight since the Milwaukee Bucks took the seven-footer with the sixth overall selection in this year’s draft.

The aging Spurs will have a familiar look with 12 players back from last year’s squad, former league and playoff MVP Tim Duncan leading an all-star international cast that includes Frenchman Tony Parker and Argentine Manu Ginobili.

NBA commissioner David Stern dismissed the incident as nothing more than a rogue employee but the league must now concentrate on regaining the confidence of American and Canadian fans instead of wooing interest abroad.

Stung by the failure, James dedicated himself to an off-season of intense training in his bid to guide the Cavaliers to the championship and secure his place among the game’s greats.

There appears, however, to be a new powerhouse taking shape in the Eastern Conference with 10-times all-star Kevin Garnett’s arrival in Boston.

The Phoenix Suns and their high-octane offence led by twice MVP Steve Nash, once again look the best in the West alongside the Spurs and Dallas Mavericks.

LeBron James is no stranger to the spotlight and is certain to be the focus of attention again after leading the Cavaliers to the NBA finals for the first time last year only to be swept in four games by the Spurs.

Since the Rockets made Yao the top selection in the 2002 NBA draft, the towering 7ft 6ins center has blossomed into one of the NBA’s most dominant players and one of world’s most recognizable athletes.

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