Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Rick Tocchet Gambling

Rick Tocchet, the Phoenix Coyotes assistant coach (he took over the head coaching job for a short period of time when Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky took a leave of absence when his mother died) has been served a criminal complaint for financing an illegal nationwide American sports gambling organization. He has been charged with promoting gambling, money laundering and conspiracy. Also charged was New Jersey state policeman James Harney. It is alleged that over a forty day period, more than 1000 bets for over $1.7 million were made. It is alleged that at least 12 NHL players and other people closely associated with the NHL have placed bets (no names have officially been released so I wont speculate as to wo they are despite the fact that many reports and guesses of who they might be are available on the internet). There is no claim at this point that anyone bet on hockey.

The problem with gambling by people associated with pro sports (aside from the fact that it is illegal and may lead to prison time for the people convicted) is that it leads to these players associating with organized crime. Should a player owe a lot of money or other favors to the organized crime members, they may be pressured to fix NHL games. If this occurs it is a major black eye on the NHL that could ruin its integrity permanently.

However, if sports betting is run legally by the state much of these problems do not exist. Thus I support state run sports gambling. It already exists, why not legalize it and take the profits from organized crime and allow it to be taxed?

As for Rick Tocchet, he goes from being a promising assistant coach who has a very good chance at earning a head coach in the near future to someone facing criminal charges who will likely never be given another NHL coaching position at any level.

Here is TSN's story on this topic. Here is a TSN story about why this police investigation might be awful for the NHL.

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