NBA approves sale of Mavs to families that run casino company

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The NBA on Wednesday approved the sale of controlling interest of the Dallas Mavericks from Mark Cuban to the families that run the Las Vegas Sands casino company.

The deal was approved just shy of a month after the families of Miriam Adelson and Sivan and Patrick Dumont announced their intention to buy the club. The purchase is in the valuation range of $3.5 billion.

Patrick Dumont, Adelson’s son-in-law and president and chief operating officer of the Las Vegas Sands company, will serve as Mavericks governor. Adelson is the widow of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.

Cuban is expected to maintain control of basketball operations, and there’s no indication the club will leave Dallas.

Cuban has said he wanted to partner with Las Vegas Sands with a long-range plan of building an arena in downtown Dallas that also would include a hotel and casino.

Gambling isn’t legal in Texas, and efforts to legalize it face steep odds. Still, Miriam Adelson has made no secret of her push to bring casino gambling to the Lone Star State.

She pumped more than $2 million last year into a political action committee, called Texas Sands, which donated lavishly to state legislators and swarmed the GOP-controlled Capitol with lobbyists. She gave an additional $1 million separately to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.

But the spending blitz failed to deliver a breakthrough this year in the Texas Legislature, where resistance to legalizing casinos runs deep.

Texas already has a billionaire NBA owner who is a casino operator, Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta, who also supports bringing casinos to his home state but has watched lawmakers sink the idea year after year.

News of the sale of the Mavs broke last month, hours after Las Vegas Sands announced that Adelson was selling $2 billion of her shares to buy an unspecified professional sports team.

It remains to be seen how the sale will affect Cuban’s place in the spotlight.

While the 65-year-old likely will continue to make basketball decisions, the sale comes as he is stepping away from the popular business TV reality show “Shark Tank” after a 16th season next year.

Cuban was a highly visible owner almost from the day he bought the team in 2000. He never hesitated to speak his mind, for many years meeting with reporters while he worked on an exercise machine before most home games.

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The NBA has fined Cuban millions through the years, often for his criticism of officiating but more recently for comments about tanking for draft picks.

Dallas was one of the worst franchises in pro sports in the 1990s but turned into one of the best under Cuban, with a lot of help from star forward Dirk Nowitzki — now a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and the leader of the team that won the 2011 NBA championship.

A self-professed basketball junkie who graduated from Indiana University, Cuban is almost always courtside for Mavericks games.

The spotlight may not fade much if Cuban has a role in trying to push casino gambling through the Texas Legislature in the coming years.

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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