|One offshore player takes a giant step forward, while another relectant participant bails out. In a deal with a potential value of $185million, U.K.-based Sportingbet.com acquired Antigua-based SportsBook.com, an offshore book which reportedly has investors with ties to CBS Sportsline. Three weeks ago, Sportsline entered into a three-way deal to produce the NFL's Internet site.|
Sportingbet, which has stated its goal is to become a dominant global gaming conglomerate, is rapidly becoming one of the most significant players in the North American sports betting market. In this acquisition, Sportingbet paid an initial $51.25 million in cash, debt and shares, with part of the deal keyed to profitability. The remainder of the cost, up to $133.8 million, will be spread over seven years, based on profitability during that period. SportsBook claimed 347,550 customers at midyear, with about 70,000 having made a bet within the preceding three months. Last year, Sportingbet acquired Costa Rica-based Betmaker.com and integrated its customers into SportingbetUSA.com. The company's strategy is to brand the SportingbetUSA name throughout the North American market.