Nevada vs. NCAA finds TV spotlight

Apr 3, 2001 8:29 AM

   The Nevada gaming industry had its say in the national spotlight Sunday.

   ESPN’s Outside the Lines, a weekly broadcast show that looks into a hot sports topic, focused on the NCAA vs. Nevada in the possible college sports bet ban.

   With the NCAA men’s basketball semifinals played Saturday, the championship game the next night and legislation for the ban to be introduced this week, the debate is reaching its climax.

   ESPN correspondent Jeremy Schaap interviewed Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Brian Sandoval, who said his commission polices fixed games.

   “If there’s something going on in a game, the game gets pulled off the board,” he said. “The legal authorities are notified. The NCAA would be notified.”

   In the mid-1990s, the gaming industry detected a point-shaving scandal involving Arizona State’s men’s basketball team. A sudden change in the betting line prompted gaming officials to tip off the FBI. Eventually, the FBI apprehended and prosecuted the fixers.

   “We monitor these games,” Sandoval said. “We monitor the lines. We protect the integrity of the games, which in turn protects the athletes.”

   The show also interviewed unidentified gamblers, a sports book manager, Rep. Jim Gibbons (R-Nev.), Jerry, an illegal career bookmaker, and Bill Saum, NCAA Director of Agent, Gambling and Amateurism activities, during the hour-long show.

   Gibbons highlighted the amount of illegal wagering in the country.

   “Illegal sports betting outside the state of Nevada accounts for more than 98 percent of all money wagered on athletic events,” he said. “Yet the NCAA has misrepresented this issue. They would like for the American public to believe the problem lies with Nevada’s gaming industry.”

   Also interviewed was Pete Newell, a Hall of Fame coach, who backed Nevada.

   “I hope they don’t go along with this (ban) because politically it’s correct to say, ‘Boy, we’ve got to get rid of gambling.’ I understand that. But practically, can you do it? They haven’t been able to do it.”