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Kevin Smith Severs Gaming Ties

3 March 2003

After years of having to explain its relationships with gambling-related Web sites, the National Collegiate Athletic Association is finally ridding itself of

Myles Brand, the newly appointed president of the NCAA, on Wednesday joined officials with CBS Sports and to announce the launch of a new Web site that will take coverage of NCAA sports to new levels. will produce the launch of, which is expected by March 1, through a sublicensing agreement with CBS Sports. The deal runs through 2006 but officials with all three groups let it be known that the deal was only able to happen because is willing to sell its sports-gambling related Web sites.

Michael Levy, the founder and CEO of, told reporters during a conference call that his company hopes to sell its Las Vegas Sports Consultants group and within a few months.

"We felt that it was in our interest to sell these entities and move forward with the NCAA. It would have been impossible to move forward in this area and still have the gambling-related stuff."
- Michael Levy

Ever since its partnership with CBS Sports began in 1997, when was created, the NCAA has been plagued by accusations of double standards and hypocrisy because even while it criticized sports gambling, it had ties to the gambling industry through its business partner. CBS Sports became a 20-percent owner of as part of the partnership and now owns more than 30 percent of the company’s common stock.

With its part ownership in the company, CBS was able to convince Levy that links for Vegas Insider and other online bookmakers be removed from the site. No active links to have been on the site since 1997, Levy said.

CBS Sports is the official broadcast partner for the NCAA’s flagship event, the Men’s Division I Basketball Championship Tournament.

Officials with and CBS Sports said they hope to include streaming audio and video on the site as well as news and content that will create a yearlong home for fans of all college sports.

Las Vegas Sports Consultants is the leading odds maker and line provider for sports books in Las Vegas as well as the burgeoning offshore sports book industry.

CBS Sports President Sean McManus expressed relief that is severing ties from the gaming industry.

"I always knew and understood what Michael (Levy) was doing," he said. "He was running a public company and had to answer to its shareholders. But it has always been an issue that we would rather not have had to deal with. This now gives us one less thing to worry about. It is good news for us and removes an annoyance and something that was just an added factor and just not a lot of fun to deal with."

Brand indicated that without Sportsline’s willingness to get out of the sports gambling business, another company would have been picked to produce the site.

"We are very pleased they decided to divest themselves of the Las Vegas properties," he said. "We would not have made the deal without those conditions."

For Levy, the appeal of aligning with the new and official content site of the NCAA far outweighed any ties to the sports betting industry.

"We felt that it was in our interest to sell these entities and move forward with the NCAA," he said. "It would have been impossible to move forward in this area and still have the gambling-related stuff."

Levy said the gambling-related entities only represented 10-15 percent of his company’s revenue. While he expects revenue to be affected in the short term, he is confident the long-term revenue from the new site will more than make up for what is lost.

"We will still make our goals that we gave to analysts, which were $62-78 million for the year," he said. "We just think they will be more towards the $62 million range."

The new site will bring an end to the massive, and often confusing, sites the NCAA has housed. In the past, each sport’s championship tournament and was given its own separate site.

Revenue form the site, which will come mostly from advertising with a small portion generated from subscriber fees, will be split between and CBS.

McManus said another selling point for the new site will be the ability for new and current corporate sponsors of NCAA events to merge all their efforts across multiple media outlets.

With selling its gaming-related business, McManus said it "clears a hurdle to making us intertwined with the sales of CBS Sports." is a portal site devoted to delivering sports information news and analysis of teams and games. All of the content is designed for the sports-betting minded fan.

Levy said an exact value has yet to be determined for and its companion, Las Vegas Sports Consultants. He said that in the next couple of weeks, officials hope to determine a reasonable asking price before cementing a deal within the next quarter. Severs Gaming Ties is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith