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Palms gets approval to start taking NBA bets

Oct 28, 2008 4:04 AM
by Kevin Stott |

The sports book at the Palms is finally poised to share in the NBA betting pie, which eclipsed more than $30 million in Nevada last season. Regular season action kicks off Tuesday, Oct. 28.

The NBA’s Board of Governors on Thursday announced that it had unanimously voted to relax its betting ban imposed on the Palms Hotel & Casino.

The ban was put on the Palms because the casino’s owners – the Maloof family – also own a stake in the league’s Sacramento Kings. George Maloof, the owner of the Palms, was ecstatic to finally be able to offer professional basketball betting at his off-Strip casino and told how the change all came about.

"We approached the NBA [about lifting the ban]," Maloof said in an exclusive interview with GamingToday. "We’ve been bugging them for years. When Harrah’s [Entertainment] chairman Gary Loveman bought into the Celtics, the NBA made an exception for Harrah’s which allowed them to book all games in the NBA except the Celtics – so it was kind of just a natural thing at that point to approach the NBA."

Maloof said he actually offered up the idea that the casino not post betting lines on the Kings to avoid any notion of a conflict of interest.

"We actually suggested that – that there be no betting on the Kings [at the Palms] just to keep any conflict at all away from the deal," Maloof revealed. "We didn’t really want to book the Kings."

Maloof said it took a while for the NBA to warm up to the idea, saying that Harrah’s relationship with the Celtics and the NBA and the city’s hosting of the All-Star game helped the league "get it" a little bit more.

"Over the last few years, as the NBA started doing more stuff in Las Vegas, we started bugging them a more about it. We just decided when Gary [Loveman at Harrah’s] made that move [to have NBA betting at Harrah’s properties] to go ahead and formally request it."

Maloof, who flew to New York City in April to make a formal presentation to the league, said it all came down to trying to keep the customer happy in the long run.

A call to the NBA’s league offices in New York City for a comment on the news went unreturned.

As far as putting up NBA lines at the casino, the Palms wasted no time and started booking preseason action on Friday morning.

Palms Sports Book Director Fred Crespi – who said it was not a big problem logistically to start booking the NBA immediately – loved the early response to the big news in the sports book.

"I’ve been here since 9:30 [a.m.] and there might have been 10 different people who said ‘Man, I’m so glad you’ve finally got the NBA. I don’t want to go across the street.’"