|SportsLine.com has stamped out a deal to produce a website for all of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's championship events, beginning with the men's basketball tournament next month. However the deal, which runs until 2006, suggests that Fort Lauderdale Company must sell its two gambling-related businesses.|
SportsLine.com's CEO, Mike Levy said the long-term benefits of having a partnership with the NCAA and the possible revenue from this deal overshadowed what the company now collects from vegasinsider.com and its Las Vegas Sports.
Levy also said ''We felt it was in SportsLine's best interest to sell these sites and move forward with the NCAA,’’ Whilst NCAA President Myles Brand was very much interested in reducing gambling in college sports. SportsLine.com's planned sale reinforces his stand against sports wagering.
At a news conference held at CBS Sports headquarters in New York on Wednesday morning Brand said ''The NCAA would not have made the deal without such an arrangement,''
Clearly sports betting is a major business in Las Vegas as well as online. Christiansen Capital Advisors in New York, a consulting company following the online gaming industry suggested that online gambling sites are expected to bring in about $6 billion in profits this year. Gross online betting should reach about $63.5 billion. A vast majority of that amount will come from sports betting and the NCAA men's basketball tournament is a big part of that sports gambling scene, second only to the Super Bowl.
''We couldn't begin to be the office pool police,'' It's not illegal and it's not gambling unless money is involved. We're making sure that we're looking at sports wagering in those areas where it starts to threaten the integrity of the game.'' said Wally Renfro, senior advisor to the NCAA president. Wagering around March Madness ranges from casual office pools to serious online betting, running up enormous credit card bills.
Mr. Levy further said that divestiture will allow SportsLine to focus on its principal businesses; one of them will be producing co-branded sites such as NFL.com, SuperBowl.com and PGAtour.com.
What’s more Levy said the new NCAAsports.com site, which will be up by March 1, has gotten sponsorship interest from Cingular Wireless, Kraft Foods, Monster.com, Coke and GM's Pontiac division.