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NBA board votes to lift betting ban at Palms

At odds with Las Vegas sports books for years, NBA commissioner David Stern finally is showing a new line of thinking, and an assist goes to George Maloof.

The league’s Board of Governors voted Thursday to lift a betting ban on NBA games at the Palms. Maloof, the owner of the Palms, said he lobbied for the change “on and off for a long time.”

Maloof said the Palms will begin accepting bets today on the NBA. But the Palms cannot book Sacramento Kings games. Joe and Gavin Maloof own the Kings.

“It’s great news. It’s the right thing, and it’s fair. We’re just happy the NBA sees it that way, as well,” George Maloof said. “The NBA has a great working relationship with Las Vegas, and I think it’s a major step for them. Every time I saw David Stern I would bring it up to him.”

The NBA-mandated betting ban was in place since the Maloof family purchased the Kings franchise in 1997. The Maloofs opened the Palms in 2001 and previously owned the Fiesta Rancho casino.

“It would be silly for us to jeopardize our license for not following the rules or doing anything that would compromise our NBA standing or our standing here in Nevada,” George Maloof said.

He said he did not ask for wagering to be allowed on the Kings. “We want them to be excluded because we wanted to distance ourselves from any conflict at all,” Maloof said.

The NBA banned Harrah’s Entertainment properties from accepting wagers on the Boston Celtics last season after Harrah’s chairman and CEO Gary Loveman became a minority owner of the Celtics. But Harrah’s sports books continued to take action on other teams.

“We decided to formally make a proposal to allow the Palms to do the same,” Maloof said.

Contact reporter Matt Youmans at myoumans@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2907.

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