Thorne: NFL needs sports bet interest

Jan 21, 2003 12:49 AM


Count ABC Sports and ESPN telecaster Gary Thorne on the side of Las Vegas and sports betting.

Thorne, a Maine resident and noted baseball and hockey announcer, wrote an opinion piece for the local Bangor News last week pointing out the "hypocracy" of the NFL in rejecting a Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Bureau ad for Super Bowl XXXVII.

"The NFL fights against its own success when it comes to gambling," said Thorne, who graduated from the University of Maine School of Law in 1973 and was admitted to the Bar of the U.S. Supreme Court four years later. "As the Las Vegas Review-Journal stated, the NFL¡¦s not so well kept secret is that the game is tailor-made for gambling and the league survives because of it."

Thorne went on to say that what makes viewers often watch games on television long after the outcome is obviously the pointspread.

"Why do many follow the games? Thorne questioned. "The office pools and the bets, legal and illegal run into the untold millions weekly."

Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman blasted the NFL decision on the ads by saying the league has to "deal with dysfunctional athletes and refs who can¡¦t make the right call."

The NFL maintains it has a long-standing policy that prohibits the acceptance of any message that makes reference to or mentions sports betting.

Thorne mentioned a Las Vegas newspaper¡¦s reference to the late Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder, who became a national TV personality predicting outcomes of games according to the pointspreads.

Thorne cited a 1977 U.S. District Court judge¡¦s ruling in a previous battle between Delaware and the NFL over the gambling issue that favored the state.

"The court found that extensive gambling on NFL games as existed for many years and that this fact of common public knowledge has not injured the NFL or their reputation," Thorne stated.