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Originally published Friday, April 3, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Ty Lawson wins $250 at craps, raises eyebrows

North Carolina guard Ty Lawson has already won big at the Final Four. Don't expect the NCAA to make commercials about it, though. Hours after arriving in...

AP Sports Writer

DETROIT — North Carolina guard Ty Lawson has already won big at the Final Four.

Don't expect the NCAA to make commercials about it, though.

Hours after arriving in Detroit, the North Carolina point guard hit a downtown casino and left with a little extra cash.

"We got in last night, and Coach (Roy Williams) gave us a curfew of 1:30," Lawson said when asked if he had visited any casinos. "I went over to Greektown and won about $250. So I already had my time there. It's probably the last time I go there before the games start."

Lawson said he played only craps and earned his winnings in about an hour.

"The only time I lost was in Reno; that's when everybody on the team lost," he said. "It's the only place I lost. The other five or six times I did gamble, I won at least $500."

Team spokesman Steve Kirschner said the 21-year-old is legally of age to visit a casino.

"I'm just amazed that people are going to make a big deal about it," Kirschner said.

While neither illegal nor a violation of NCAA rules, gambling is a touchy issue for an organization already skittish about holding its biggest event in a city that counts three casinos among its attractions.

In a separate news conference at Ford Field, NCAA president Myles Brand said the organization only prohibits gambling on college and professional sports. But Brand said he would prefer athletes don't gamble at the casinos.

"Well, I warn against that slippery slope. It's a fair question," said Brand, who was not asked specifically about Lawson. "What a student does, play bingo in his church for example, while we discourage that, we prefer not to try and regulate that particular kind of activity. But it's highly discouraged."

Calls to fellow Final Four participants Villanova, Connecticut and Michigan State regarding whether their players have visited casinos or were prohibited from going were not immediately returned. The teams play in the national semifinals Saturday night.

In February, the Caesars Windsor casino in Canada said it would support the NCAA's request to suspend betting on men's Division I basketball for one week ending with Monday's national championship game. The casino is located across the Detroit River from Detroit; casinos in Michigan and most other states are banned from offering sports wagers.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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