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THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO / RANDY HARVEY

Call for Ban on Gambling Could Have Reverse Effect

May 25, 1999|RANDY HARVEY

The National Gambling Impact Study Commission's call last week for a ban on legalized wagering on college sports will eliminate sports gambling on college campuses and ensure the purity of the games our scholar-athletes play.

Yeah, you bet.

As someone who makes a living covering sports, I'm reminded every time there is a gambling scandal, such as the recent ones at Arizona State and Northwestern, of how fragile the industry is. If sports fans stop believing in the integrity of the games, they're not going to pay to attend them, watch them on television or read about them in the newspaper.

For that reason, I'm glad to see the nine persons commissioned to report to Congress on gambling's effect on society address the issue. But the only thing they accomplished was to prove how little they know about gambling.

Their solution not only does nothing to curb gambling on college campuses--does anyone really believe student bookmakers won't find a betting line just because Las Vegas isn't allowed to establish a legal one?--it actually increases the risk of scandal.

Who do you think alerts the authorities when point shaving is suspected?

In the case of Arizona State's basketball team in 1994, Nevada sports book officials noticed unusual betting patterns and called the Pacific 10 Conference, which instigated an FBI investigation.

"The legal sports books police the sports," Danny Sheridan, a handicapper and sports analyst from Mobile, Ala., said Monday. "Any time a red flag is waved, it's in their best interests to report it because if bettors believe the games are fixed, they're not going to bet on them."

If college sports gambling is forced underground, that will be an open invitation for the Mafia.

As Jay Kornegay, the race and sports director of the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas, told sports columnist Joe Hawk of the Las Vegas Review-Journal last week, "It's not like you're going to get Al or Guido calling the FBI and saying, 'Hey, guys, we're seeing some unusual betting patterns here.' "

*

On the night the St. Louis Cardinals stole seven bases against Todd Hundley, scouts timed his throw to second base at 2.2 to 2.5 seconds. They said it should be 1.7 to 1.9. . . .

When you see Hundley's eventual successor, Angel Pena, throw from his knees, you can be assured he doesn't think he's the next Roy Campanella. . . .

It's just that he needs more work on his timing. Too bad the Dodgers had to rush him up from Albuquerque. . . .

Hundley's predecessor, Charles Johnson, was traded by the Dodgers because he couldn't hit. . . .

In his last 19 games with Baltimore, he has nine home runs and 18 RBIs. He credits Oriole hitting coach Terry Crowley. . . .

On a hot streak at the plate for the Pacific Coast League's Las Vegas Stars is David Newhan. In a recent four-game series against Fresno, he went 13 for 19 with three home runs, three doubles, six RBIs, four runs and three stolen bases. . . .

He's the son of Times baseball writer Ross Newhan. . . .

Since the merger, no ABA franchise has advanced to the NBA finals. But both conference champions this year could be from the old red-white-and-blue ball league in Indiana and San Antonio. . . .

Of all the strange things about the Lakers this season, the strangest is that they finally acquired the outside shooter they've been talking about for two years and then didn't do anything to make sure he had open shots. . . .

That also seemed strange to Glen Rice, who took six fewer shots Sunday than Tyronn Lue. . . .

Asked if he might be more effective if he went through training camp with the Lakers, Rice scoffed. . . .

"It should take about two days to figure out how to get Glen Rice involved in the offense," he said. . . .

Rice calls himself "Casper." . . .

Chuck Daly sounded resolute when he announced his retirement from coaching Monday. But if anyone can talk him out of it, Laker Executive Vice President Jerry West can. . . .

Then again, it's just as likely they'll start talking and Daly will persuade West to retire. . . .

In the course of a five-minute interview with reporters after Sunday's game, West went back and forth on that subject three times. . . .

It makes your head spin. . . .

It also makes you wonder if he's not still thinking about becoming an executive with Los Angeles' NFL expansion team if it's awarded to Michael Ovitz. . . .

I thought Michael Eisner might emerge as a bidder for the NFL team, but it looks as if Disney's disposable income is going to Jeffrey Katzenberg. . . .

You think Katzenberg is a football fan?

*

While wondering if I've already said that Tim Duncan should be the MVP, I was thinking: I'm not picking another L.A. team to win a championship until one of them does it, the Lakers need a point guard more than they need a power forward, Dodgers beware--we're all watching now that the Lakers are out.

Randy Harvey can be reached at his e-mail address: randy.harvey@latimes.com.

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