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Gaming Guru

Richard N. Velotta

Bets May Be off for 2007 All-Star Game

6 June 2005

The state Gaming Control Board on Wednesday will consider prohibiting wagering on the National Basketball Association All-Star Game in 2007 if the contest is played in Las Vegas.

The request was made by the NBA, which is considering placing its annual midseason showcase event in a city that doesn't have a basketball franchise for the first time in league history.

Gaming industry leaders aren't expected to mount any opposition to the request, which will be heard by the three-member board in Carson City. The reason: Wagering on most sports' all-star games is minimal and filling hotel rooms with NBA fans would almost certainly generate more revenue than what resorts would make in the sports books.

One of the clauses in the regulation says the Nevada Gaming Commission can prohibit wagering on an event if "the team's governing body files with the commission a written request that wagers on the event or series of events be prohibited, and the commission approves the request."

An NBA spokesman said today that the only way the league would consider placing the game in Las Vegas is if the state's sports books took the game off the betting board.

League spokesman Tim Frank also said while there have been reports that the NBA would announce the site of the game by mid-June that "there is no strong time frame on the selection process."

He said the site-selection process is proceeding on schedule. While he would not confirm what other cities are in contention for the game, it was reported last month that Memphis, Tenn., home of the league's Memphis Grizzlies franchise, also has presented a bid for the game.

Informed sources said they expect the Control Board will recommend approving the request to the commission, which would then likely consider it at its June 23 meeting in Carson City.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has been on the bandwagon to bring the 2007 NBA All-Star Game to the city for weeks, with board members saying the benefits of having the game would outweigh the expenses.

The LVCVA's bid to the league would include the use of free venues for game and fan activities, 100 hotel rooms and 30 suites for four nights plus $750,000. The expenses are expected to be in line with the amount the LVCVA spends to promote other major athletic events, such as the National Finals Rodeo and next week's Arena Bowl championship football game.

Mayor Oscar Goodman, who also chairs the LVCVA board, has championed hosting the game as has the Maloof family, owners of the Palms and the NBA's Sacramento Kings franchise.

"Everybody's on board and everybody's excited," said Palms resort owner George Maloof. "The first thing the NBA wanted to know was if there was an appetite from the town to host the game, so I made a round of calls and everybody seemed excited about it."

Maloof said the league sent representatives to the city to conduct site surveys, but the decision is still contingent upon prohibiting wagers from being taken on the game.

"Once they get a feel from the (Gaming Control) Board and then the commission, they can make a decision," he said. "But it's still contingent on working things out with the hotels."

The MAGIC Marketplace, a major fashion convention, comes to Las Vegas in February, but Maloof said the show isn't expected to conflict with the tentative date set for the All-Star Game.

Rossi Ralenkotter, chief executive of the LVCVA, has said the event could generate between $75 million and $100 million in nongaming revenue and that the city would benefit from the worldwide exposure, noting that the game would be seen in 600 million households in 15 countries.

"The betting situation was part of what the destination needed to do to host the game," Ralenkotter said today. "We've continued to follow their request for information and we're concentrating on putting out the best bid possible. They've been going back and forth on documentation with the Thomas & Mack Center and with the hotels."