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Thursday, October 25, 2007
David Stern: Review Finds EVERY Referee Gambled


ESPN's Chris Sheridan reports:

Stern said an internal review had found that all of the league's 56 referees violated the contractual prohibition against engaging in gambling, with more than half of them admitting to placing wagers in casinos. But Stern said none of the violations was major, and no referees had admitted to wagering in a sports book or with a bookie.

"Our ban on gambling is absolute, and in my view it is too absolute, too harsh and was not particularly well-enforced over the years," Stern said. "We're going to come up with a new set of rules that make sense."

(Side note: this sure blows that Mitch Lawrence story out of the water, huh?)

All of the violations were minor, says Stern, like betting in NCAA pools, visiting table games at casinos, gambling on golf, and the like. 

Wow, huh? That's something. The idea, I guess, is that everyone does a little of that, so what's the big deal? This may well be the only correct response.

But the counterpoint is that the league needs to have some mechanism to detect those who might have big gambling debts and presumably could be influenced, by their need for cash, to throw games. Be interesting to see how the league plans to address that. Not sure where you draw the line now. No really big bets? No betting if you are a lousy bettor?

Also, this seems like a little bit of a valentine from the NBA to the gambling industry. David Stern is clearly no longer looking down his nose at casinos, saying society has changed and how he's even cool with his referees gathered around the craps table.

Stern's also, he happened to mention, still open to expansion to Las Vegas. 

Read Sheridan's whole story. There's a lot more news. For instance: The NBA expects to get to interview Tim Donaghy soon, Stu Jackson and Ronnie Nunn are having their responsibilities trimmed so they will ultimately have less oversight of referees, Stern is open to punishments related to the Anucha Browne Sanders case, and every employee of every NBA team will undergo sexual harassment training.