NEW YORK — David Stern acknowledged Thursday that more than half of his 56 referees had violated NBA policies about casino gambling, but said none will be punished because he felt the rules were outdated.
Instead, Stern said he is altering the policies, leaning toward allowing referees to gamble in casinos during the offseason — except for betting in sports books.
The league's strict gambling policies toward referees became public after the Tim Donaghy scandal. The NBA currently prevents its officials from entering the gaming area of a casino, or doing any betting at all except for going to race tracks during the offseason.
But Stern admitted he did a poor job of enforcing the policies, and with views toward gambling changing, decided he wouldn't "penalize people for behavior that I'm about to change."
"It's too easy to issue rules that are on their faith violated by $5 Nassau, sitting at a poker table, buying a lottery ticket and then we can move along," Stern said after wrapping up the league's Board of Governors meetings. "And by the time I got through and I determined going into a casino isn't a capital offense ... I'm the CEO of the NBA and I'll take responsibility."
Stern also said Stu Jackson and Ronnie Nunn, in charge of monitoring officiating, will both have their roles altered. But he stressed they were being "expanded" rather than demotions — even though Jackson's job now will be divided between two people.